In the Wake of Tragedy, How You Can Help Pittsburgh

On Saturday, October 27, 2018, a horrible act of violence occurred in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. The city and our country continues to process these acts and grieve for our brothers and sisters who have been directly impacted by these horrendous acts.

Through the darkness, there has been some brightness; one of those rays being that all 11 people who were killed, have their funeral costs covered by over $200K raised by the local Islamic community.  

As the city continues grieve, our City Impact Manager Stephanie Grimes is working with the local service platoons and partners to see where our efforts can best support the needs and desires of the Jewish community, residents of Squirrel Hill, and all others affected by this act of hatred.

For Pittsburgh locals, here’s what you can do this weekend

Join The Mission Continues 3rd Platoon as it stands with the Jewish Community. The Jewish community in Pittsburgh is calling for unity, and opening their doors to the entire community this Saturday for Shabbat services. There are services at 9:30 am at Beth Shalom, and 10:30 at Rodef Shalom. Volunteers with The Mission Continues will support both.

On November 3, 8:30 am-12:00 pm we will meet to organize at the Smallman Street Deli, discuss our mission, and form a plan for how best to support the community at each site. We have been asked to be on call to help with presence, but all that wish to attend the services are encouraged to do so. Those who do not will remain outside to increase the presence of allies and to demonstrate the strength of the bonds between the veteran and Jewish community.

Signs of support and love are encouraged, but must be free of any political messaging, and in good taste. Our power is our unity, and our mission is to heal and protect. Please tailor all messages to this goal.

Continue reading “In the Wake of Tragedy, How You Can Help Pittsburgh”

Chris Hayes on Why The Mission Continues’ Unique Model Is Not Replaceable

September 25, 2018

On September 18th we hosted our annual Commitment to Service Breakfast, a gathering of individuals who believe in supporting our work. This year’s event was held at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan.

Our president, Spencer Kympton and our Northeast Region executive director Mohan Sivaloganathan welcomed guests with opening remarks. We also heard from Joey Whimple about his transformative experience volunteering with The Mission Continues.

Loree Sutton, Commissioner at New York City Department of Veterans Services presented us with a Certificate of Recognition for our contributions to veterans in New York City. We also bestowed Community Solutions’ Brownsville Partnership with our Commitment to Service Award. Taurean Lewis, Resource Specialist for Community Solutions and Brownsville resident, accepted the award.

Our keynote speaker was Chris Hayes, Host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. His speech was so moving that we wanted to share it with you in full:

Continue reading “Chris Hayes on Why The Mission Continues’ Unique Model Is Not Replaceable”

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”

#WhatsNext in the West from New Executive Director Doug Pfeffer

These past few months have been very productive and transformative for The Mission Continues West Region. Shortly after Mass Deployment in Los Angeles, we said farewell to Regan Turner as the Executive Director and welcomed back Doug Pfeffer (former Seattle City Impact Manager) to the role as West Region Executive Director.

Here’s an update on what’s happening in the West Region from Doug himself!

Friends,

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Doug Pfeffer, and I am honored to assume the role of West Region Executive Director. Regan Turner was a huge influence on this region, as well as across the country.

Although I am trying to fill some pretty big shoes, I plan on doing my best to not only maintain the current form that has generated so much success in the West, but to see it taken to an even higher level, as we continue to impact communities across the West, and activate veterans across the entire region.

Continue reading “#WhatsNext in the West from New Executive Director Doug Pfeffer”

How I Learned to Select a Diverse Team (And Why it Matters)

August 28, 2018
By Mary Beth Bruggeman, VP of Program Strategy

At The Mission Continues, diverse teams are representative of the veterans and the community members that we serve.

Why bother to build diverse teams in the first place, and how can you do it effectively?

If you’re wondering why diverse teams matter, I’ll break it down in terms that translate to everything we (and others) do. Diverse teams — in race, gender, identity, experience, age and many other factors– are proven to make better decisions.

There is ample evidence that companies with the higher percentages of racial/ethnic diversity are more likely to have higher financial returns than companies with less diverse teams. Among other benefits, organizations that embrace diversity have employees that are more likely to feel connected to others in the workplace, which fuels collaboration and innovation.

Veterans at our 2018 Women Veteran Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

It matters in our work at The Mission Continues, because diverse teams are representative of the veterans and the community members that we serve, along with being generally more effective decision making bodies. Continue reading “How I Learned to Select a Diverse Team (And Why it Matters)”

Our Summer Interns Are Rockin’ It

August 14, 2018

Summer is a busy time here at The Mission Continues. With high impact service events taking place across the country our teams are hard at work making sure everything goes smoothly both on the ground, and behind the scenes.  

This summer, our team includes 5 interns who are experiencing first hand exactly what it takes to make all of this come together.

They are rocking it this summer, and we want you to meet them!

Continue reading “Our Summer Interns Are Rockin’ It”

A Letter to Our Veterans: Thank You for Continuing to Make Our Nation’s Communities Stronger

July 10, 2018

To our veterans:

A burning desire to serve others bonds all veterans – across generations, geographies, and demographics. That desire rests in the heart of The Mission Continues. I have been uniquely privileged to see that desire – your desire – in action over the last seven years. And I am humbled by what you have been able to achieve.  

In recent months, I have been saddened and frustrated that the unacceptable decisions and actions of our founder, former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, have unfairly cast a shadow over that desire, and the significant impact we’ve had.

I recognize that the last 6 months have likely also saddened and frustrated you too. As our frontline leaders, you have likely had to help others make sense of this situation. You may have faced unwelcome scrutiny from the community, from your team members and partners, and even from the media. I’m sure it was uncomfortable, stressful, or disheartening.

Regardless of someone’s history with The Mission Continues, we do not stand by actions that violate the core values we all strive to embody. And as uncomfortable as it may be, we must not fail to pronounce that.

I want to make this clear to you: the actions of one individual will never detract from our achievements. Communities across the country are stronger because of your sweat and grit. No one can take that away from us.

I cannot adequately convey my gratitude for your steadfast leadership during this time. In the face of adversity, you did what we perhaps do best: continue the mission. You had to…because veterans’ desire to grow, connect, and serve has not waned over the last 6 months. And the problems we address in communities have certainly not gone away.

  • To our platoon leadership: Thank you for leading in your city—encouraging other veterans to mobilize, organize, and participate in your service projects to benefit your community.
  • To our fellows: Thank you for your enduring focus on your volunteer service, and your dedication to growing through serving.  
  • To our volunteers: Thank you for continuing to show up en masse – for working hard and for committing yourself to improving our local communities.
  • To all: Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. You are The Mission Continues.

When you look at our ongoing operations across the country, you see that we are stronger than ever. And I look forward to finishing 2018 with historic levels of impact, and an unabated desire for more.

 

Reporting for duty,

Spencer Kympton
President, The Mission Continues

Why Watts Is Worth It

June 29, 2018
By Regan Turner, West Region Executive Director

The Mission Continues launched our service platoon program in Los Angeles just over four years ago. Since then, we have engaged more than 1,000 local veterans and community members in service with our three service platoons, and have grown our local staff from two remote employees to seven full-time staff in an office in the LA Promise Zone.

It was actually right here in Los Angeles that The Mission Continues piloted our very first “operation,” which has now become our national model for collaboration and community impact.

Thanks to encouragement and introductions made by our friends at Bad Robot and The Wasserman Foundation, we connected with an organization called the Partnership for LA Schools more than three years ago.

The Partnership serves some of LA’s most under-resourced schools in Watts, Boyle Heights and South LA by providing their staff and community with additional resources to improve educational outcomes.

Local volunteers at Operation Watts Is Worth It

In speaking with the Partnership staff, we realized that they had not just one school in need of renovation work, but an entire portfolio of almost 20 schools that could use the help of The Mission Continues and our veterans.

Since our first project at Stephenson Middle School in 2015, The Mission Continues has performed more than 15 projects at Partnership Schools. We were honored to receive their Community Partner of the Year award in 2016.

Many of those school projects were in Watts, at Markham Middle School, Grape Street Elementary, Gompers Middle School, and 107th Elementary School, among others.

So last year, when The Mission Continues began looking across the country to determine the location of our 2018 Mass Deployment, Los Angeles — specifically Watts — was a natural choice. Continue reading “Why Watts Is Worth It”

Volunteering Is the New Network

April 20, 2018
By Brian Wilson, Mission Continues alumnus

Brian Wilson is a Mission Continues Fellowship Alumnus and a veteran of the US Army. He is currently the Creative Technology Manager at Combined Arms in Houston, Texas. 

I have volunteered since I was 12. My dad talked to a person at the Parks and Recreation department in our small town and for six hours a week I pulled weeds at parks and picked up trash. I was paid in free soda, which was priceless to a 12-year-old.

Since then, I have volunteered at a variety of different places. From being a volunteer firefighter to cleaning up an inner-city school. Each time I volunteered, I came in contact with a new person or group of people that I never would have met through my normal channels. I would be landscaping next to a CEO of a major company, putting together hygiene kits for disaster relief while chatting with an IT manager, or proofreading a resume with a fellow military veteran.

After spending six years in the military, I entered college and once again found myself volunteering. It seemed like a natural place to go meet people. Do some good for others, do some good for yourself. My volunteer work landed me my first corporate job in human resources at a medical school. They found me at one of my volunteer projects, setting up networking events for military veterans. From there, I moved on to working at a non-profit, where I now recruit more volunteers.

Each volunteer opportunity that I had, I learned more about aspects of business and program management that are usually reserved for employees. One of the main complaints I hear when people are job hunting is that they are turned down for not having enough experience. Their first response is, “How am I supposed to get the experience if I can’t get the job?” And the best answer is to volunteer to get the experience.

A lot of people of people mistake volunteering with physical labor, such as building homes or cleaning up parks. The truth is that most non-profits work in the social services sector, providing after-school programs, career counseling, refugee services, crisis centers, and many, many more. Volunteers at these organizations have an opportunity to work in a variety of programs and operations management, administration, finance and grant writing, social services, and career services.

Do you have a goal to work at a law firm? Go volunteer at a legal clinic and you could meet your future employers. Not sure if you should be a social worker? Volunteer at a community center and see if you find that spark. There are hundreds of opportunities for you to jump-start your career, build your resume, and grow your network.

Check out The Mission Continues, especially if you are a veteran or otherwise military-connected. There are also plenty of other opportunities. Vist the local United Way in your town, VolunteerMatch, or head over to the new LinkedIn volunteer opportunity site. There are some full-time volunteer opportunities that pay a living stipend as part of the program, such as AmeriCorps VISTA. Each of these programs can help you access the perfect volunteer position that meets your skills and your goals.

Now, go forth and do great work.

 

The Mission Continues is proud to connect veteran leaders to community service through our programs, but we need your support to continue the work our volunteers do in communities–please donate in honor of National Volunteer Week!

 

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.

Introducing David Diaz, Vice President of Regional Operations

April 13, 2018

We recently welcomed veteran David Diaz to The Mission Continues as our Vice President of Regional Operations. Here’s a sneak preview of the impact David plans to bring to the team.

 

How do you plan to support the mission as its new VP of Regional Operations?

I plan to support the mission of The Mission Continues by synchronizing our program execution for maximum impact. I see my role as a conductor of an internally-acclaimed orchestra. I have the honor of leading a talented team of dedicated professionals and volunteers who possess a diverse array of skills and abilities. l look forward to synchronizing the program execution of our five individual regions into a harmonious delivery system.

 

David Diaz in Washington D.C.

Why are you excited to be at The Mission Continues?

I am super excited because our team is at the forefront in innovating and ideating on solutions that promise to transform the lives of our veterans and our communities across the country. The Mission Continues is poised to develop a comprehensive and unified approach to an outcome-based delivery system for veterans.

 

How do your experience and interests enhance and weave into your new role?

My passion for revitalizing cities and my experiences as a city planner help me to understand how to elevate our community impact on our host cities. I am working closely with our research and evaluation team to take our community impact to a new level. My experiences as an Army captain will help me explore opportunities for aligning our operations with every function in our organization. Our operations are at their best when we are collaborating with our wonderful partners and funders.

 

How are the regions going to rock it this year?

The regions are going to rock it this year through the launch of a new Summer Service Slam campaign across the country. This is the first time that each region will simultaneously launch dozens of service projects during the month of July. We also plan to establish our presence in new cities across the country later this year.

 

Stay tuned for more about Summer Service Slam and how you can take part!

 

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.