Boston Veteran Finds a Home in Solving Homelessness

October 3, 2018
By Kat Saldana, platoon leader

Integration back into civilian life was a bit of a struggle for me. The biggest struggle was losing my soldier identity and the camaraderie that came with it. On top of that, I became a military spouse, and that in itself has its own set of obstacles. I never really had time to process what that loss looked like because I just went from one role into another and then straight into motherhood.

Kat Saldana

I was often lonely because I didn’t have anyone that understood what I went through. I struggled mentally and emotionally to find someone that would understand my loss, and when you don’t live close to military installations, it is near impossible to find those people.  

It took me a long time to reach out for mental health resources partly because of my busy schedule, but partly due to the stigmatization of reaching out for help — it made you weak.

I wouldn’t cry. Alcohol was my way of coping. I was slowly spiraling mentally and emotionally out of control.

As it would happen, I found The Mission Continues in 2017 at one of the lowest points in my life. My depression and anxiety were in high gear and I was having suicidal ideations.

Continue reading “Boston Veteran Finds a Home in Solving Homelessness”

Houston Hosts Platoon Leadership Summit 2018

September 28, 2018

We see veterans as assets, not liabilities. This strongly held belief is core to our programs and events, and Platoon Leadership Summit is no exception. For 2018’s Summit, our goal was to support veteran leaders in our Service Platoon Program in their personal growth, connectedness with other veterans, throughout communities, and within themselves.

Continue reading “Houston Hosts Platoon Leadership Summit 2018”

5 Tips to Help You Plan Awesome Service Projects

September 20, 2018
By Marvin Cadet, Mission Continues Staff

Running service projects requires a lot of planning, coordination, and execution. Projects can include tasks such as painting classrooms, building pergolas & benches, and landscaping a large open space.  You have to gather input from a number of different people to ensure you’re fulfilling a need the community truly wants.

As you get closer to the day of the project, things get a lot crazier as everyone scrambles to check things off their to-do list, make sure all the materials are prepped and ensure it’s a great event.

Believe it or not, project planning gets easier the more you do it. Here are 5 tips to help you plan awesome service projects!

Continue reading “5 Tips to Help You Plan Awesome Service Projects”

It’s a Seattle Block Party! Veterans Support Immigrant and Refugee Communities

August 24, 2018

 Volunteers celebrating the day’s accomplishments.

On Saturday, August 11th, 2018, more than 100 veterans, community members and partner volunteers reported for duty in Seattle’s International District for the 2018 Seattle Service Block Party. For this day of service, volunteers focused on driving local impact on behalf of immigrant and refugee communities in the heart of Seattle’s International District.

With support from Starbucks, The Mission Continues volunteers collaborated with The Danny Woo Community Garden and InterIm CDA to help beautify the neighborhood. This synergy was riding on the initial momentum garnered by the Schultz Family Foundation, who gave initial support for the Service Platoon Program’s spread to Seattle.

Continue reading “It’s a Seattle Block Party! Veterans Support Immigrant and Refugee Communities”

#FixOurParks: Summer Service in Our National Parks

August 21, 2018

In partnership with the National Park Service and the National Parks Conservation Association, Operation #FixOurParks took place on the weekend of July 27-29.

The last weekend in July was the final weekend of our Summer Service Slam series. The West Region ended it with a bang, getting busy at three national parks: Grand Canyon National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and Mount Rainier National Park!

In partnership with the National Park Service and National Parks Conservation Association, over 100 veterans and active duty military personnel from around the west coast joined forces for a weekend of community service and impact in these four national parks.

We are The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact, offering a variety of ways for military-connected folks to get involved in volunteering. Volunteer opportunities range from the casual one-timer to the serious — and we mean serious — community-leading volunteer.

Our 2018 Summer Service Slam was a nationwide series of service projects during the month of July, enlisting 250+ veterans across the country who were interested in rolling up their sleeves to volunteer in service of their country — this time in a different way.

Continue reading “#FixOurParks: Summer Service in Our National Parks”

A Platoon Leader Continues Mission After Tragedy

August 15, 2018
By Kristle Helmuth, Platoon Leader

This year marks the 6th year that I have been part of The Mission Continues in one capacity or another. From the fellowship, to being a platoon leader, to now with my new role as an external affairs intern. The journey hasn’t been an easy one, but what’s a journey without a little adventure, right?

I first found the organization years after I got out of the Army. I had spent several years caring for my husband who was wounded in Iraq, and I felt like I had lost myself in that. I was looking for something, anything I could grab onto that would be mine, something I did.

I felt like I had not accomplished anything since I got out, and I felt useless.

My Mission Continues Fellowship gave that pride back to me, along with a rekindled love for service, something that would become a part of the new me in ways I couldn’t anticipate. It also gave me some new skills and the confidence to make things happen. Continue reading “A Platoon Leader Continues Mission After Tragedy”

How Two Rockstar Volunteers are Supporting Hawaii’s Keikis

August 10, 2018
By Lori Respicio, Nonprofit Partner

About a little over 11 months ago, Errol Ingram Jr. reached out to the Hale Pono Clubhouse and expressed an interest in becoming a volunteer. He shared his passion for helping and mentioned that he was volunteering through The Mission Continues. Surprisingly, the mission of The Mission Continues was right along the lines of the Boys & Girls Club movement.

Errol was volunteering five days a week, and our youth, especially our teens built a positive rapport with Errol. He even became Coach Errol to our basketball youth and has since continued to mentor our youth on and off the court.

Hale Pono Boys & Girls Club

The impact he was making became more than noticeable, and one member in particular took to him. One of our male members age ten did not have much social interaction skills, causing him to display certain behaviors. He signed up for our basketball season — and was placed on Errol’s team.

In the beginning, this member expressed his frustration, but with the help our staff and Coach Errol, he stuck it out the whole way through. As time went by, I noticed a change in his behavior. This member displayed a higher level of social skills and was able to express himself in a more positive manner!

Hale Pono Boys & Girls Club
Mission Continues Fellow Errol coaching basketball

After the basketball playoffs and celebrating their championship win, his mother had approached me and said, “he’s amazing.” At first, I thought she was referring to her son, but she clearly pointed out Errol. Continue reading “How Two Rockstar Volunteers are Supporting Hawaii’s Keikis”

Cheers to 5 Amazing Summer Service Slam Weekends

August 8, 2018

What an incredible set of Summer Service Slam weekends we’ve had! We worked hard, made an impact, and had fun in the process. That’s what it’s all about.

Thanks to our incredible volunteers who made these weekends go from a plan on paper to a real experience, and hopefully, to fond memories for all.

Much love to the long-time volunteer champions who stepped up to share their remarkable expertise and aspirations with all of us. And a high five to our incredible partners who will launch from this weekend’s foundation even more impact in their communities.

Take a look at snapshots of each Summer Service Slam weekend that took place throughout the month of July! Continue reading “Cheers to 5 Amazing Summer Service Slam Weekends”

Woman Fashion Designer, Veteran, and Immigrant Turns Challenges into Opportunities

July 31, 2018

Inspired by her childhood in Mexico, Carolina was destined to become a fashion designer with a purpose. Carolina said, “I used to observe my mother making clothes for my siblings and myself. Seeing her transform fabrics into garments intrigued me to the point that it motivated me to come to the United States.”

At the age of 18, Carolina left everything she knew in the hopes of attending design school in the United States. “The simple pleasures that most natives took for granted like simply understanding a movie in English was a daunting task,” she describes.

Thrust into a different culture and language was challenging — but she pushed herself to adapt to her new environment. For five years she worked during the day and completed English as Second Language classes (ESL) at night. Continue reading “Woman Fashion Designer, Veteran, and Immigrant Turns Challenges into Opportunities”

How One #HerMission Project Inspired Future Generations

July 27, 2018
By Melissa Maskulka, Platoon Member

My most vivid memories of my grandma are those in which she exemplified engaged citizenship, a can-do attitude and showcased how powerful a woman could be. She was the first in her family to go to college, valedictorian of her high school class, while working in the restaurant her immigrant parents owned after school and on weekends.

For as traditional as she was, she was also unconventional. She didn’t marry until she was nearly 30 years of age – almost rebellious in the 1950s. Her husband, a World War II Army Air Corps vet and firefighter, passed away after less than a decade of marriage.

Left with two small children to care for, my grandmother went back to school to get her master’s degree in education and spent nearly the next 25 years of her life teaching elementary school while pushing two successful young adults to pursue their dreams.

She did this while proving she didn’t need to subscribe to the traditional family structure of the time – husband, wife and 2.5 kids. She fiercely proved her independence and place in society even when others questioned her ability to do so.

Through years as a public school teacher, dedicated volunteer at the Historical Society, Garden Club and Ronald McDonald House, and her consistent involvement in local politics, it was easy to have a commitment to service ingrained in my lifestyle. I had seen it consistently for 33 year of my life.

We lost her one year ago, after she quietly made a profound difference for 96 years on this earth. It wasn’t until after I had finished cleaning up from Baltimore’s first #HerMission project on May 20th that I realized it had been a year since she passed. Exactly one year since her memorial service. Continue reading “How One #HerMission Project Inspired Future Generations”