What It Means to Be Today’s Veteran

November 7, 2016

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Here at The Mission Continues, we have our own way of honoring Veterans Day. As a veteran service organization whose mission is to empower veterans to serve again in their communities, Veterans Day is one of our biggest opportunities to show the country that veterans can make a positive impact in cities for youth, for the environment, for other veterans, and everyone in between. To this end, we are mustering hundreds of veterans nationwide to serve in all kinds of service projects this Veterans Day weekend, and we invite civilians to come serve alongside us too.

Time to Shine, Hampton Roads, Renee Foster is Here!

November 4, 2016

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We are happy to welcome Renee Foster, our new City Impact Manager for Hampton Roads in Virginia. As a Navy veteran and former Platoon Leader, Renee is already familiar with The Mission Continues family. But we want to introduce her to you too. After interviewing her, we’ve put together a little Q&A about Renee.

Describe your city for someone who has never been to it. What do you

The Blue that Binds: Why We Love ToolBank USA

October 28, 2016

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Have you ever noticed hammers, power drills, and hard hats with sprayed blue paint at some of our projects? Well, if you have, you’ve seen firsthand the remarkable work of ToolBank USA. ToolBank’s nonprofits lend a wide variety of tools to groups who want to accomplish a project to benefit their community, at heavily discounted costs.

As you may know, we are a nonprofit that prides itself on forging partnerships with other nonprofits on both national and local levels. In our central Fellowship Program, each Fellow we place at a host site organization is an obvious example of this, and more examples can be found by looking at the nonprofits our platoons work with to paint classrooms, build playgrounds, and more. But we have a relationship with a nonprofit that is so mobile and so essential that we felt it deserves its own blog post.

Who Do I Want to Be? Finding My Identity After the Military

October 22, 2016
By Ian McCall, Fellow Alum

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In recognition of his perseverance and dedication to service in the face of overwhelming adversity, Ian McCall received the Mark Weber Award at this year’s Delta Orientation. Through his fellowship, Ian launched a campaign for women’s empowerment which has grown exponentially through his efforts. He wrote children’s books to empower young girls, which was well received and supported by his community. But his six months as a Fellow were met with unforeseen challenges. This is his story — an adapted version of his speech to the Fellows of Delta Class 2016.

I’ve never felt as lost as I have since I’ve left service. I’ve repeatedly asked this question, and had life present it to me:  “Did going in make me who I am? Or did who I am make me go in?

They’re two very different questions. One assumes that the Marine Corps gave me some essential quality that I didn’t have already, without which I am less than or incomplete. The other assumes that I gave some essential quality to the Marine Corps, some quality I came with, then went out into the world with, without which the world is incomplete.

What’s New with the Los Angeles Office?

October 19, 2016

Two more team members have joined The Mission Continues family in Los Angeles! We are pleased to welcome Emily Hummel and Nestor Ramirez, who will be greatly increasing the capacity for our Communications and Research and Evaluation teams, respectively. Both Emily and Nestor will help our organization on a national level — you’ll be able to see their hard work reflected in our social media, impact reporting, and improvements in our programs.

The Mission Continues 2015 Annual Report

October 15, 2016

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Thousands of veterans are answering this new call to serve. By serving, they are finding purpose in their own lives, while pursuing significant impact in their community. In our 2015 annual report, available here, you’ll find stories of veterans overcoming challenges and of the neighborhoods and cities that are now stronger because of their continued service.

Mission Continues Fellows and Service Platoons combined for nearly 200,000 hours of volunteer service in 2015. Fellows deployed to more than 300 nonprofit and community organizations nationwide including Horses4Heroes in Las Vegas, Headstrong Project in New York City, and the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia.

Furthermore, 62 total Service Platoons were launched by the end of 2015 focused on community issues as broad as school revitalizations, mentorship of at-risk kids, eliminating food deserts, bringing arts and culture to disadvantaged neighborhoods, and the restoration of our parks.

We also took strides in 2015 to help ensure the health and wellbeing of the organization. The Mission Continues received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, the highest score available, in 2015 when assessed by measures of “Financial Health” and “Accountability and Transparency.”

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And there is still much to do in the final months of 2016.

An Update: How I’m Working Toward My Mission

October 14, 2016
By Vince Loran, Fellow

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As a Bravo 2016 Fellow, I’m doing so many things right now that it’s hard to keep track sometimes! But I wanted to share an update on what I’m doing and where I’m going — and most importantly, why I’m doing it. I serve on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization, Fifty Shades of Purple against Bullying. I’m also volunteering as a Wounded Warrior Project Peer Support Group facilitator in Northern Virginia. I’m also a Fellow, volunteering at the United Way. But to understand all the things I am doing now, I need to give you a glimpse of the person I have become.

Meet Our Newest Executive Director, Tony Arendt

October 8, 2016

We recently welcomed Tony Arendt to the Mission Continues family as our Midwest Executive Director. Tony will be spearheading our plans for building local relationships and making a sustainable impact in cities like Chicago, Detroit, and more. Hopefully you’ll get to meet Tony yourself, but in the meantime, here’s a brief introduction.

Making a Mural for My Community and for Myself

October 6, 2016
By Aaron Skapik, Fellow

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I see art as a valuable tool for anyone to express ideas, create conversations, and heal. For veterans, art can change their life by giving them a sense of purpose, giving them a platform to say something about their time in the military, and to heal through the therapeutic properties of art.

Two semesters ago the art department at Pittsburg State University offered a mural painting class. Having been inspired by murals I’ve seen of artists like Thomas Hart Benton and Michelangelo, as well as the murals near Route 66 close to where I live, I jumped at the opportunity to learn such fascinating craft.

After the class I was so inspired that I came home, took out a pad of sticky-notes and began writing down goals and giving myself small challenges to get me out of my comfort zone. At that point I had been ready to drop out of school and see if I could make it as an artist by selling my artwork. But the mural class made me stay. I decided to change my degree program from Art Education to General Studies and finish school by building a degree that would allow me to be an artist and give back to my community.

How Did You Come to Work at The Mission Continues?

September 29, 2016
By Chris Randall, Fellowship Program Specialist

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Why I Wanted to Serve

From the time I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a Marine. Growing up in North St. Louis, my father was my role model – a standout in a tough neighborhood. He was determined to not let anything, let alone age requirements, get in his way. He enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 15 — before he could drive, vote or buy a beer — and served during the Korean War.

I wasn’t exactly a great student as a kid, but I was dedicated in other ways, and most important, I was dedicated to my dream. More than anything, I wanted to be part of the military like my father. So I started early. I joined the Young Marines Program when I was 8 years old, and attend Cleveland Jr. Naval Academy in St. Louis for high school.

In many ways, just like my father, I didn’t want to waste any time. I felt ready, more than ready, to achieve my dream as soon as possible, so much so that I made sure to graduate high school ahead of schedule so I could enlist at the age of 17.