A 40 Year Journey for Unity in My Childhood Community

February 27, 2018
By Derrick Clark, Platoon Leadership Team Member


As a child growing up in the inner city of Pittsburgh, I was always made aware of the importance of Black History Month. So when February came around, we students knew there was going to be some cool classroom projects, autobiographies, and pictures surrounding the classroom that month for us to learn more about African American culture and Black History.

We learned about Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, and a host of other well-known African American leaders. Some of us would even get to dress up and reenact their life stories in plays, skits and musicals.

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Although it is not blatantly obvious, the undertones of segregation and racial discrimination are prevalent throughout Pittsburgh. To get a glimpse of how separated Pittsburgh can be, one would only have to step one foot into my childhood community, Homewood.

Homewood is a predominately African-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh. When I was a young boy in Homewood, the neighborhood was fun and recreational – there were plenty of activities for children to do around the neighborhood – a skating rink, sports programs, and the like. But the effects of poverty, low-income housing, underemployment, and the drug crisis of the 90’s have since crippled the community.

Pittsburgh has invested millions of dollars into infrastructure and community development, but Homewood was left out of the redeveloping plan. The community still provides programs for youth, but they are not well supported anymore — they have less funding, less manpower, and fewer resources.

Crime is still prevalent in the area and many children and residents have little to no one to look up to. A lot of its residents share the sentiment that no one outside Homewood cares about them.

The struggles of the community and its children resonate with me on a personal level. Like many children in the community today, I grew up with no father in the home. I had a single mother who was addicted to drugs, and it seemed at times that no one cared about the harsh realities of poverty-stricken families in less affluent, drug polluted, communities.

All we had was each other, and with the community being almost completely African American, it seemed as if the outside world simply did not want to deal with the issues in Homewood.

And yet, in the face of this adversity Homewood has always been a proud community.

February 27th, 2018|All, Editor's Picks, Mass Deployment, Service Platoons|

To Truly Help Communities, We Need to Become a Part of Them

February 15, 2018
By Rahiel Alemu, City Impact Manager

I’ve discovered that “helping” is not as simple as it sounds. It takes a lot more than just “showing up” to make the kind of impact that is actually needed in a community.

I have always been passionate about nonprofit work, and have dedicated my career to the nonprofit sector. Part of what fulfills and drives this passion is my background and my desire to pay it forward.

Let me take you back twenty years ago when Ethiopia instituted the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. It’s a lottery system with a prize of a life-changing opportunity: a plane ticket and green card to America. With its unveiling, tens of thousands of people applied.

By a rare draw of luck, my family was selected.

February 15th, 2018|All, Editor's Picks, Staff Perspectives|

I Felt Like Myself Again at Mass Deployment

February 9, 2018
By Heather Cereste, Mass Deployment volunteer

Veteran Heather Cereste volunteering at Mass Deployment with The Mission Continues

My first experience with The Mission Continues was as a participant of Mass Deployment, which was dubbed Operation Westside Surge (OWS), and took place in Atlanta, Georgia that year. My volunteer work up until OWS, while enjoyable, hadn’t yet filled the void in me, or given me a new life’s purpose.

I sought something more in my life, but, until OWS, wasn’t quite sure what.

Today I share this journey with you.

February 9th, 2018|All, Editor's Picks, Mass Deployment|

Introducing Our New Northeast Executive Director

January 19, 2018

Mohan Sivaloganathan, Executive Director - Northeast for The Mission Continues

We’re excited for you to meet Northeast Executive Director Mohan Sivaloganathan. While the Mission Continues community will get to know him in good time, we wanted to break the ice and let him introduce himself in these three questions.

January 19th, 2018|All, Editor's Picks, Staff Perspectives|

“When I look at the youth in Boyle Heights, I see myself”

November 30, 2017
Majken Geiman, Former Platoon Leader

For a long time I let the fear of disappointment hold me back. Life in Chicago’s south side as the eldest child of a single mother was what you’d imagine. I attended a large public high school, spent hours every day commuting on the bus and subway, failed multiple classes, pawned 35 cents off my friends daily so that I could buy reduced-price lunches,

November 30th, 2017|All, Editor's Picks, Service Platoons|

The Unexpected Revelations of an Army Spouse

November 17, 2017
By Emily Ferstle Angus, City Impact Manager

Though my tenure as City Impact Manager at The Mission Continues began prior to marrying my husband, an Army reservist, you may be able to imagine that since working here, I’ve dragged him into the mix and he’s become very involved.

Truly, volunteering is the type of work he would do on his own anyway, even if his wife wasn’t asking him to help out her volunteers on a regular basis. He really seems to enjoy the physical nature of the mission and learning about different neighborhoods and their challenges around the city.

He’s one of those guys who is reluctant to volunteer the information that he is a veteran. For someone who identifies his greatest abilities and talents with his job in the Army, this always has been a quandary to me. He is proud to serve, and proud of his reasons why, but he is conservative with that information, reserving it only for his inner circle.

At the Detroit 2nd Platoon Veterans Day project this past weekend, we had a lot of fun and got a lot of work accomplished, but what I will share with you now is the revelation I had as an Army spouse, not as a staff member.

November 17th, 2017|All, Editor's Picks, National Days of Service|

Boeing and The Mission Continues Empower Veterans to Soar

November 3, 2017

The morning of September 9th, at East Capitol Urban Farm in Washington D.C. was EJ Delpero’s time to shine. He had prepared for this moment for over a year.

During EJ’s six-month fellowship with The Mission Continues and subsequent tenure as a service platoon leader, he was able to translate his military leadership skills into civilian contexts.

Now as a seasoned volunteer for The Mission Continues, he and his teammates stepped up to the plate this fall when they were tasked with leading the planning and execution for this year’s 9/11 Day of Service.

November 3rd, 2017|All, Editor's Picks, National Days of Service, Service Platoons|

What are you doing to honor 9/11? I know my answer.

September 8, 2017

Civilians and veterans gather to volunteer in their community

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 affected all of us in one way or another. For some, it meant deployment. For others, it meant the loss of a loved one and a charred city. And for all Americans, it meant a shaken country and the dawn of a new era.

“I remember the day well, as most Americans do,” says Melissa Shipley, a longtime volunteer with The Mission Continues. “I remember turning on the television and being in complete shock. I felt so many different emotions–anger, fear, sadness.”

But it wasn’t until she started getting involved with veteran service organizations like The Mission Continues that she met veterans who had actually deployed because of it.

Eric Leverone is one such veteran who enlisted in the United States Army to protect his country right after 9/11. “Up until that point, I had never even thought about joining the military,” he said.

September 9th, 2017|All, Editor's Picks, National Days of Service, Service Platoons|

In My Service Platoon, I Can See the Impact I Have Is Real

June 20, 2017
By Majken Geiman, Platoon Leader

When people ask me why I joined the Army, I usually talk about my desire to serve, wanting to challenge myself, and the satisfaction and pride that I feel being able to help my soldiers learn new skills and develop as leaders. I could gush for hours about happy I am that I signed on the dotted line at 17 years old.

It

June 20th, 2017|All, Editor's Picks, Service Platoons|

TEDx Talk: Bringing Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

December 29, 2016

Mary Beth Bruggeman, our Executive Director for the Southeast Region, was invited to give a TEDx Talk at Georgetown University. She made a strong case explaining why it is important to bring your authentic self to work, and gave suggestions on how companies can encourage a more open culture that values a diverse workforce. In tandem, she published an article in the Huffington Post entitled, Embracing Diversity, on the Battlefield and

December 29th, 2016|All, Editor's Picks|