Celebrating the 6th Annual Sully Memorial

August 3, 2018
By Amy Sullivan, Supporter

August 11, 2018 will be the 6th Annual Sully Memorial, an annual golf tournament at Tapawingo National Golf Course, held in memory of Chief Petty Officer Sean Patrick Sullivan. The tournament gives its proceeds to veterans.

(We have player spots available and welcome donations anytime!)

I first heard about The Mission Continues through my work, as I participated in our United Way annual campaigns and attended a sponsored Veteran’s Day breakfast. I was so excited to learn that there was a local support program for my then active-duty husband, Sean.

He had always been passionate about supporting each community in which we lived. And, often coordinated volunteer events himself with his military peers. There was also the appealing prospect of staying connected with the military community post-retirement – which was just a few short years away for him.

Sean Patrick Sullivan

Unfortunately, my husband never got the chance to participate with The Mission Continues and passed away while on active-duty.

We – myself, friends and family – were eager to do something to honor his memory. We decided to host an annual golf tournament with the proceeds given to veteran support. Knowing how Sean felt about community and connection, The Mission Continues was the ideal organization with which to partner.

This year we will host our 6th Annual Sully Memorial. Friends and family have traveled to St. Louis from all over the country, and sometimes overseas, to participate in the golf tournament. We are so grateful for all of the volunteers and local sponsors and donations from the community that make the event possible.

The Annual Sully Memorial golf tournament

It is a time to remember, reflect and celebrate. There are somber moments, but there is much more laughter. Sean always said, “Live every day like it’s your last.” And we take this event to do just that. Creating memories together. Just the way he would have wanted.

Reporting For Duty: An Update To Our Partners

August 1, 2018

As a valued partner of The Mission Continues, you deserve our transparency. I am committed to being open and honest with you in good times, as well as in challenging ones. Today, I am excited to share new developments about our organization and our work.

More importantly, I want to assure you that despite the turbulence of the first half of this year, we press forward – unabated – on our mission to empower veterans to grow, connect, and find purpose through community impact.

 

New fuel for our mission

In the first half of 2018, several new partners joined our network of support. We also created collaborations with longtime donors to support veterans and communities in unique new ways. These meaningful investments reflect our partners’ vision, dedication and generosity. The combination of this support, with unwavering support from all of our donors, energizes us and fuels our continued impact. Thank you for your faith in us and for your commitment to report for duty alongside us.

A sampling of new donors and partners that have increased their commitment to the organization in 2018 so far, include:

  • Diageo
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • The Schultz Foundation
  • The Bob Woodruff Foundation

 

New leaders driving the mission

We’re proud to share that last month, we named Doug Pfeffer the new Executive Director of the West Region, Dr. Kate Thomas as Director, Service Leadership Corps and Angel Torres the new Executive Director of the Midwest Region.

Doug was promoted from his role as Senior City Impact Manager for Seattle, where he grew our Pacific Northwest operations into some of the most highly-engaged units in the country. Doug served a combined 24 years on active duty with the United States Navy and the United States Army. Prior to joining The Mission Continues in 2016, Doug was the Executive Director for Rainier Therapeutic Riding, an equine therapy nonprofit focused on veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. Doug will lead the West Region from our Seattle office.

Kate is a professor, researcher, published author, and proven thought leader in the field of mental health promotion for military personnel. Prior to embarking on her academic career, she was a Marine Corps Military Police Officer leading teams in law enforcement, training, and combat commands—including a combat deployment in 2005 to Fallujah, Iraq. Kate holds a Ph.D. in public health promotion with graduate degrees in management and women’s studies. Kate is based in our Washington, DC office.

Prior to joining The Mission Continues, Angel spent 27 years in the United States Navy, leading one of the Navy’s first Non-Compliant Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams. He was selected for a commission to Chief Warrant Officer in December 2011 and worked with the US State Department. He has also spearheaded numerous community outreach and involvement projects throughout his naval career. He currently serves as the co-chair for the Veteran Leadership Council of Chicago.

 

Still reporting for duty

Our third annual Mass Deployment – Operation Watts Is Worth It – was an enormous success, driving impact in Los Angeles’ historic Watts neighborhood. Over a week of coordinated, large-scale service projects, engaging more than 1,000 volunteers including veterans, corporate partners, and local organizations, the team provided a surge of resources to strengthen under-resourced schools, revitalize aging public housing, and reinvigorate under-utilized community spaces. See some of the powerful images here.

Mark your calendars for 2019’s Mass Deployment, Operation Charm City Charge, taking place next summer in Baltimore!

Our Summer Service Slam brought more than 400 veterans and community volunteers together in eight cities from coast-to-coast throughout the month of July. In Kansas City, we joined forces to help refurbish and beautify an elementary school on the west side. See here the coverage in the Kansas City Star “The mission really does continue; Charity moves out of shadow cast by Greitens.”

We’re now planning more than 40 service projects to honor those who stepped up to serve in the wake of the 9/11 attacks 17 years ago. Check out our calendar of events and sign up to serve alongside local veterans at project in your community.

Our 9/11 calendar of events in your community

 

Continuing our mission

As you may be aware, formal investigations involving former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens are drawing to a close. The Mission Continues cooperated with all official requests related to these proceedings, and as stated before, we did not provide, nor authorize the use of, private donor information for political activity. We also demonstrated that the actions and decisions of our founder are not consistent with our vision, mission, or core values. We look forward to putting this chapter behind us.

You place great trust in us, and we value that trust enormously. We respect your feedback, and over the past few months, we have embarked on further steps to ensure we continue to earn that trust:

  • We conducted an all-staff training to reinforce our guidelines pursuant to our non-partisan status, including a review of all related regulations and policies.
  • In keeping with best practices, we strengthened internal controls on our data processes and technology access and reviewed our donor and website privacy policies.
  • Daily, we hold each other accountable to acting in accordance with our core values, which represent everything we stand for as an organization.

 

Our gratitude

None of this work is possible without you. The collective action of the veterans, donors and volunteers who report for duty with us generate tremendous value in communities nationwide. We are stronger than ever, and we expect to continue this mission long into the future, with historic levels of impact.

Thank you for walking this path with us, and for your continued support.

 

Charlie Mike,

Spencer Kympton
President, The Mission Continues

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”

A Boy Scout’s Mission: Hazelwood Food Insecurity and Literacy

July 19, 2018
By Christian Polk, Volunteer

Platoon Leader Patti Gerhauser and Boy Scout Christian Polk

Ever since I joined Boy Scouts, my ultimate goal was to reach the rank of Eagle Scout — the highest rank in Boy Scouts. One of the many requirements for this rank is to complete a service project.

This year, at the age of 16, I was able to become an Eagle Scout by leading a service project in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood in collaboration with The Mission Continues’ Hazelwood Service Platoon.

I was motivated to do it there because of my strong family roots in the community. My grandmother grew up in Hazelwood throughout her childhood and attended Burgwin Elementary School. My father also spent a portion of his childhood in Hazelwood. This community means a lot to me and my family. Continue reading “A Boy Scout’s Mission: Hazelwood Food Insecurity and Literacy”

Veteran Volunteers with The Mission Continues Create Summertime Community Impact Nationwide

PRESS RELEASE

The veteran’s nonprofit builds stronger communities with its newest service event Summer Service Slam

NEW YORK (PRWEB) JULY 13, 2018 — This July, more than 250 veteran volunteers in eight cities across the country will rally to drive community impact through their service. Together with community partners, the veterans plan to revitalize community spaces through a series of weekend-long projects, addressing local needs such as safe access to green space, the building of urban gardens and development of resources for underserved schools.

The veterans are volunteers with The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to find growth, purpose and connection through community impact. These projects are part of a broader event dubbed Summer Service Slam. The inaugural national event spans three consecutive weekends from July 13th – 29th in cities including Baltimore, MD; Cleveland, OH; El Paso, TX; Kansas City, MO and four national parks including the Grand Canyon in AZ, Mt. Rainier in WA, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in CA, and the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in HI.

“Our Summer Service Slam campaign is the embodiment of collective impact in our most under-resourced communities,” said Mary Beth Bruggeman, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and vice president of program strategy at The Mission Continues. “When veterans and community members come together in action, their potential to create lasting, positive change is both inspiring and unlimited.” Continue reading “Veteran Volunteers with The Mission Continues Create Summertime Community Impact Nationwide”

All About Our 2018 Summer Service Slam

July 11, 2018

This summer 250 veterans from across the country are putting an end to #summerdaze and reporting for duty with The Mission Continues to kick-off our first ever Summer Service Slam!

We’re hosting eight events in all five regions coast to coast. This July, for three consecutive weekends veterans will deploy to cities within their regions for a weekend of impact, personal growth and camaraderie. Our goal for these veterans is to leave the weekend with new skills, motivation and an expanded network of civic leaders to continue their mission of service at home.

Summer Service Slam Calendar of Events

The Mission Continues service project with veterans

Slam up your summer and Report for Duty with The Mission Continues. Do something that counts with people you won’t forget to make a real difference for summers to come! Continue reading “All About Our 2018 Summer Service Slam”

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

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

July 5, 2018
Shannon Thompson, Platoon Leadership Team

There’s this saying my father, a US Navy veteran, said to me as a child: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” I live by this saying. It’s what motivated me to enlist in the military at the age of 17 to earn a college education, and it’s what inspired me to see what else I was capable of after completing 12 years as an airman.

It’s what inspired me to serve again with The Mission Continues.

My transition into civilian life catapulted me into a world that didn’t understand my military career. My new civilian job didn’t challenge me at all, and I didn’t have anything outside of my routine. It all felt so mundane.

I knew something was missing. I knew I could do more, be more, and offer more to others. I needed to get out of my comfort zone again and grow; The Mission Continues and volunteering gave me the opportunity to do just that. Continue reading ““A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.””

Broward County Veteran Gets Youth Excited About the American Flag

July 4, 2018

Angual Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues

While many Americans are aware that there is a “proper” way to raise, fold and store the American flag, not many actually know the rules by heart. Air Force veteran Angel Gual is one exception. Recently, Angel noticed that the Boys & Girls Club where he volunteered had an old flag pole — with no flag. Just in time for Independence Day, Angel helped the Club obtain a flag, but he just didn’t stop there.

Motivated by his love for the American flag and his desire to share it with the youth at his local Boys & Girls Club, the Nan Knox Club, it was important for Angel to teach them about the flag’s history and significance. And so began Operation Raise the Flag.

Angual Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues
Angel Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues
Angel Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues
Raising the flag with Angel Gual, platoon leader of the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues.

Angel worked tirelessly to secure a flag donation and coordinated with the fire department to install it. He then held a workshop explaining how to raise, lower, and fold it properly, and organized an art project where veterans from the Broward County 1st Service Platoon in Florida joined youth to paint the American flag on their hands.

“I taught them that the flag represents all of us as Americans. That men and women from all walks of life and cities wake up every day under this flag to protect their rights,” said Angel.

“It meant so much to see how truly excited the kids were at the opportunity to learn about the flag and how to handle it and what it means. I could see how gently they held the flag with the sole purpose of not letting it fall out of their hands.”

City Impact Manager Matthew “Mateo” Tanner for The Mission Continues explains, “The Nan Knox Club, where Operation Raise the Flag took place, is located in a historically black community known as the Sistrunk Boulevard. This small community faces the daily challenges of extreme poverty and lack of local businesses and resources for residents.”

Angel Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues
The art project held at the Nan Knox Club. Pictured is City Impact Manager Mateo Tanner with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues.
Angel Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues
Veterans volunteering with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues at Operation Raise the Flag.

Angel’s commitment to youth goes way back. Growing up, Angel regularly volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club in his hometown of New Jersey. It’s even where he landed his first job at the age of 16, and maintained good relationships with the youth and their families over the years. “I helped take care of and mentor younger inner-city kids. The staff there helped mold me into the man I am today.”

The reason Angel returned to volunteering after 20 years of military service is because without it, “I felt lost and empty. For several years I searched for a new mission.”

Angel Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues
Having fun at Operation Raise the Flag’s art project. Pictured are Angel Gual and Mateo Tanner with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues

That new mission came to him when he found The Mission Continues, a volunteer organization for veterans looking to help under-resourced communities. When he joined The Mission Continues’ Broward County 1st Service Platoon as its platoon leader, “I felt complete again.”

Angel Gual with the Broward County 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues
A young girl showing her American flag hand at Broward County 1st Service Platoon’s art project.

As its platoon leader, Angel collaborated with Mateo to build a relationship with The Boys & Girls Club, advocating for it to become the platoon’s operational partner. This meant that the platoon would work primarily with and through The Boys & Girls Club for the benefit of the community.

For Angel, it’s all about coming full circle. “For me, returning to help the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs after all these years feels like I’m coming back home and doing what I love.”

To volunteer alongside veterans like Angel, sign up for the Broward County 1st Service Platoon’s next project! You don’t have to be a veteran to volunteer with us – non-veterans are most welcome too.

Contributing Sponsors of the Broward 1st Service Platoon are All Within My Hands and The Henry & Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation. We thank them for their support, which makes stories — and impact — like this possible.