Hometown Huddle: A Detroit Veteran’s Day and MLK Day Collaboration

By Emily Ferstle, City Impact Manager

On Veterans Day, The Mission Continues Detroit Platoons were joined by The Detroit Lions, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Comerica Bank, and Caniff Electric Supply Co. for a day of impact at the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan.

Veterans, civilians, community members, and corporate partner employees joined forces to make an impact in the lives of Detroit youth. The Lloyd H. Diehl clubhouse serves 60-100 children and teens daily, and is in continuous need of support to create and maintain a safe, welcoming environment for the youth to gather, learn, and play.

Check out the impact we made for Veterans Day and join us for more during our MLK Day of Service at the clubhouse for Blue Door Blitz!

Continue reading “Hometown Huddle: A Detroit Veteran’s Day and MLK Day Collaboration”

Columbus 1st Platoon’s Veterans Day with Hamilton Township High School

By Ian Haynes, City Impact Manager

This event was a new opportunity for the Columbus 1st to help fight food insecurity through the creation of an urban farm learning lab! Through a partnership with Hamilton Township High School and the YMCA of Central Ohio, the platoon was able to rehab an old greenhouse and the surrounding outdoor space at Hoover YMCA Park which is about ½ a mile from the high school. Students and staff from the school joined veterans from The Mission Continues for this impactful day of service.

Kim Tapia, a member of the Columbus 1st Leadership Team stepped up to lead the project. 20 volunteers including nine veterans and six students put in 90 volunteer hours total for our Veterans Day campaign with Hamilton Township High School (HTHS).

Students from Hamilton Township High School join The Mission Continues for a service project

It was an awesome day with good people and a great project for the community. I will definitely do more projects in the future. Being involved with The Mission Continues has really opened my eyes to see that our community needs help and I’m happy to be involved.

Dana Erikson, platoon and community member

Our work with HTHS focused on the rehab of a greenhouse at Hoover YMCA Park. The project was part a new partnership between Hamilton Township High School, the YMCA of Central Ohio and The Mission Continues and was the culmination of several months of discussion and planning between the three organization.

Corey O’Brien, an Army veteran and high school science teacher at HTHS approached The Mission Continues over the summer with the idea of turning a greenhouse into a learning lab for his Environmental Science students. He was searching for a way to provide opportunities for his students learn an employable skill, earn some of their volunteer hours required for graduation and to connect with veterans.

I think the task for last Saturday went very well, and in my opinion this was proven by the before and after pictures. Some of the other pictures show that even despite the cold, we all came together as a team, and had fun doing it.

Chris Ray, veteran

As one of the first Purple Star Schools in the nation, HTHS has a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military and is always looking for ways to connect with veterans. Over a cup of coffee Corey shared his vision with Ian Haynes, a City Impact Manager with The Mission Continues, and asked there might be a way to collaborate.

Hoover YMCA Park, which is about a half mile from the school, happened to have a greenhouse that had fallen into disuse. They offered it to the school on the condition that the school make any repairs needed to get it up and running.

A survey of the space revealed that the structure of the greenhouse was in great shape, but that there was a ton unused space inside and outside that could be tapped for gardening. With a bit of TLC, this would be the perfect space for the 25 students currently interested in urban farming to gain valuable hands on experience. And, with the potential for up to 90 students to be a part of the program, there was space to grow at the park.

This work is important to me as a veteran because like many veterans I still have a strong, intrinsic need to find meaning and purpose in my work. This is part of what attracted me to the military. This work allows me to feel like I am still doing good in the world and giving back to my community.

Katherine Scheutte, veteran, platoon member and Service Leadership Corps member

The Veterans Day project in Columbus was the first step in making this a reality. The project focused on returning the inside of the greenhouse to a clean slate, adding growing capacity inside and outside the greenhouse, purchase of an irrigation system and general grounds maintenance.

Inside the greenhouse, the two garden beds were cleared of all weeds and plants and had leaf compost added to the soil to enrich it over the winter. Additionally, another garden bed was added to the greenhouse to increase the growing capacity.

Finally, an irrigation system was purchased to be installed in the spring. The system, designed to run on a timer, was a major need since student will have limited time on site during the school year.

Outside the greenhouse, we built two garden boxes to go with the one garden box already in place. Further, we cleaned up the space around the greenhouse and added three cubic yards of mulch.

By the project’s end, the new HTHS Learning Lab at Hoover YMCA park totaled more than 550 sq ft of growing space, including 168 sq ft of new space in three new garden beds. Three cubic yards of mulch and two cubic yards of leaf compost had been added and the entire space was cleared out and prepped for growing in the spring!

“What was compelling about this particular service project, helping restore a greenhouse space for Hamilton Township High School, was that there was so much passion behind why the teacher of the school helped launch this partnership. The teacher spoke about using this space to help teach his students to be good people. As he mentioned, often times teachers only focus on academics because this can be easily measured. To hear a teacher talk about his obligation to also help teach students how to be good people by giving back to others was amazing. It was awesome to see a fellow veteran using other veterans to help teach his students about the importance of giving back.”

Katherine Scheutte, veteran, platoon member and Service Leadership Corps member

Here’s a lovely note from Corey O’Brien, who is a veteran and Environmental Science teacher at Hamilton Township High School:

There is no gift greater than that of your time. Freely giving your time to someone to work shows commitment, builds character, and is the American way. We help those in need. It makes me feel a positive energy to help someone, to do something good.

Veterans have helped to fight the war on drugs, to fight the war on terrorism, why not help the fight the war on hunger? We’ve helped others around the world, and now we can help those in our backyards and community.

The project helps serve a greater purpose and is multifaceted:

  1. It will help fight hunger in our community, which is compelling in and of itself, but there are many other positive ripples from this project.
  2. It is a teachable opportunity to demonstrate to younger generations how to grow food, which can lead to and help with self-sustenance.
  3. It builds confidence in the ability to actually grow/produce food.
  4. It allows people to get their hands dirty and promote connections to the Earth and stewardship of the planet.

There is a food insecurity on the south side of Columbus and Operation Southside Thrive helps us grow food specifically to help fight this battle. We are trying to help fulfill a need of those in our area.

I value the ability to contribute and feel meaningful, to make a difference, and promote selflessness through servitude. There were times in my life where I felt invisible, unnoticed, unimportant, and meaningless. They were dark days and they were hard to push through. I lost my focus, lost my fire, lost my way. I struggled with being normal, again. I was feeling isolated, alone, and separated. Being able to help someone else when they needed it is a motivating force. It gave me purpose.

Veterans help other veterans. If it helped me, it may help them, too.

Thanks to our supporters!

We had in kind support from Kurtz Bros Landscaping (donation of leaf compost), Polanko Consulting (speed bump to protect garden hose running across road). Additionally, Kirk Caudill from the Makery Company, a professional photographer, took the photos for us. Finally, we greatly benefited from the free tool rentals from Rebuilding Together Central Ohio.

Overall, we had a great Veterans Day service project with a new mission partner and, given the weather Saturday morning (20ish degrees and wind!), we had a pretty good turnout!

A Glimpse of What We Accomplished on Veterans Day in 2018

We’d like to share a compilation of just a few of the many service projects veteran and non-veteran volunteers accomplished in honor of Veterans Day. For us, Veterans Day is not about thanking veterans for their past service. Rather, we seek to redefine it as a day when we tell veterans they are STILL assets to their country, and they can serve again in new ways. So instead of saying “Thank you” — we say “We still need you–thank you for your CONTINUED service.”

Check out additional service projects like the one in Orlando!

Of course, our heartfelt thanks to our friends at BAE Systems, Inc., who made these projects possible through their support. We’ve had an incredible impact as a result!

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, where our Philly service platoon members joined our friends at Travis Manion Foundation, Student Veterans of America, Team Red, White & Blue & Team Rubicon to serve alongside President George W. Bush, Mrs. Laura Bush, and folks from the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

South Hills Platoon (Pittsburgh 3rd Platoon) supports of the food security, literacy and civic engagement of refugee and immigrant population in the South Hills communities of Pittsburgh. This Veterans Day project ensured that the community garden was cleared to borough standards and prepared them to sustain their garden for next year.

Together, members of the Bhutanese refugee community joined with area veterans and other volunteers to cleared the entire garden, with over 50 plots, and built 11 new garden beds.

Continue reading “A Glimpse of What We Accomplished on Veterans Day in 2018”

Kicking Off Veterans Day with a Sunshine State Boriqua Build

On Saturday, November 3, veteran leaders drove large-scale impact in Orlando, Florida in celebration of Veterans Day. Saturday’s event is just the beginning of The Mission Continues’ Veterans Day service campaign, in which 50 cities will be celebrating veterans by joining forces with them in community impact.

Fifty platoon members from Miami, Broward County, Tampa, and Jacksonville joined Orlando 1st and 2nd Service Platoons for a high-impact project. Volunteers built furniture for displaced Puerto Rican families resettling in central Florida.

Hurricane Maria forced more than 2,000 Puerto Rican families to evacuate to central Florida with only their most personal possessions in tow, leaving behind heavier items such as furniture.

Continue reading “Kicking Off Veterans Day with a Sunshine State Boriqua Build”

See How We Put MLK’s #LegacyofService in Action

January 24, 2018

The Mission Continues MLK Day of Service

Putting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service into action this past weekend, volunteers with The Mission Continues accomplished large-scale service projects in local communities. In 34 service events across the country we drew 1,902 volunteers, totaling 9,332 hours of service — and captured the event in this Impact Report.

The Mission Continues’ platoon operations are our way of bringing about the unity Dr. King envisioned for the country. The National Day of Service in his honor was our opportunity to reiterate our commitment to diverse and underserved communities, and to show our fellow citizens the power of veterans as unifiers as they tackle community challenges.

If we collectively broaden our outlook and use our diversity as a resource to implement change, then together, city by city, block by block, veteran by veteran, we can come together and create a better tomorrow.

While our service projects took place in dozens of cities, eight of them in particular stood out to embody Dr.King’s values: Equality, Faith, Nonviolence, Education, Love, Leadership, Selflessness, and Hope. Continue reading “See How We Put MLK’s #LegacyofService in Action”

Our Values in Action: Living up to Dr. King’s #LegacyofService

January 5, 2018

During the weekend of MLK Day, we’re activating our veterans and civilian allies to bring Dr. King’s core values to life. This is your chance to translate shared values into positive action and make a difference!

The aim of these #LegacyofService projects is to get folks of all backgrounds, civilians and veteran alike, to come together to continue what Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement did for our country: make it a better, stronger, more equal place. Continue reading “Our Values in Action: Living up to Dr. King’s #LegacyofService”

Veterans Day at a Glance

December 1, 2017

Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.