A Veteran Mother, Embarking on Her Post-Military Career

May 13, 2018
By Sarah Silva, Fellow Alumna

My fellowship with The Mission Continues has had an incredible impact on my life. I spent five years in the Marines. During that time, I met my husband, and we had our two sons.  When I left the Marines in 2011, I was lucky to be able to spend a few years at home with the boys while they were still tiny.

Once they were both in school, I went back too, finally completing my bachelor’s degree. However, as I reached my final year of college, I was no closer to figuring out what I wanted to do with my degree once I had it.

Since moving here, one of the things my family has loved the most about San Antonio is its parks. In particular, we spend a lot of time at Hemisfair, a downtown park that is being redeveloped.  We watch movies on the lawn, attend festivals, and the kids see how filthy they can get between the splash pad and the sand area. We’ve spent a lot of amazing Saturdays together there.

I saw on Facebook that the Hemisfair Conservancy, which handles philanthropic support for Hemisfair, was looking for a veteran to spend six months assisting them in their mission and learning from them as a Mission Continues fellow. Continue reading “A Veteran Mother, Embarking on Her Post-Military Career”

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.

The Path to Transforming Veterans and Dallas Public Schools

April 6, 2017

Finding That Connection

“I felt for the first time like we were on the same page while volunteering for the service project,” said Nissa Salas, a Mission Continues volunteer in Dallas.

Nissa met her husband Mark Salas after he had separated from the U.S. Marine Corps. Nissa noticed Mark had a hard time relating to her and to other civilians. “He had only one or two friends, and did not trust anyone. His habits were very much military-style and he was shut down from any social activity,” she said.

At the recommendation of their counselor, Nissa and Mark tried volunteer service with The Mission Continues.

Nissa describes their first project. “Our first assignment was painting a computer lab at the Interfaith Housing building, when my husband had just experienced knee surgery. We participated while he was on crutches, and my husband had a smile on his face the entire time.” Continue reading “The Path to Transforming Veterans and Dallas Public Schools”

To Truly Help Communities, We Need to Become a Part of Them

February 15, 2018
By Rahiel Alemu, City Impact Manager

I’ve discovered that “helping” is not as simple as it sounds. It takes a lot more than just “showing up” to make the kind of impact that is actually needed in a community.

I have always been passionate about nonprofit work, and have dedicated my career to the nonprofit sector. Part of what fulfills and drives this passion is my background and my desire to pay it forward.

Let me take you back twenty years ago when Ethiopia instituted the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. It’s a lottery system with a prize of a life-changing opportunity: a plane ticket and green card to America. With its unveiling, tens of thousands of people applied.

By a rare draw of luck, my family was selected. Continue reading “To Truly Help Communities, We Need to Become a Part of Them”

The Start of Long Term Recovery in Houston

October 20, 2017

The Mission Continues service project with veterans

While shoppers all over the country rushed to grab Friday the 13th sales, 90 veterans from all over the country rushed to grab rakes, power tools, and paint brushes to help restore Houston neighborhoods after the damage Hurricane Harvey dealt.

Immediately following the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey, volunteers with The Mission Continues responded with neighbor-helping-neighbor efforts and rallied together to execute an inspiring 9/11 Day of Service project shortly thereafter.

In the time since then, we have committed to help Houston communities with long-term recovery efforts. Rebuilding in Houston is a mission that will take years to accomplish, but with a little help from Delta Class of 2017, it was off to a great start. Continue reading “The Start of Long Term Recovery in Houston”

We Made an Impact in Houston, and You Can Too

October 12, 2017
By Alex and Celene, Mission Continues Supporters

Following the devastation Houston experienced by Hurricane Harvey, we asked ourselves the question: If we went, would our help make an impact? The answer was yes.

Even though there was only so much the two of us could do, we thought, if the effort was multiplied by many volunteers, the results would be greater. So we traveled to Houston from New York and with the guidance of The Mission Continues, participated in service projects where many people had gathered to volunteer.

We know that it takes all different kinds of support to have a community like this thrive. While we are not fellows, platoon leaders or even military veterans, we still feel the call to serve by contributing what we can. We felt the call to serve in Houston, and for us, the best way to do that was with veterans at the helm. Continue reading “We Made an Impact in Houston, and You Can Too”

#HoustonStrong: Rebuilding After Hurricane Harvey

September 7, 2017
Barry Mattson, Central Region Executive Director

It has been heartening to see our Mission Continues family rally together to help us in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. As we have worked with Houston communities for years, it is saddening to see the damage done. While our platoon members and staff are focused locally with neighbor-helping-neighbor efforts as well as working with their operational partners right now, we are planning our long-term recovery efforts too.

I know there are no quick fixes for all that Houston has endured. We weathered this storm and we are committed to rebuilding our communities. We are adjusting the objectives of all five of our Houston operations to include long-term, ongoing recovery operations. This is what Mission Continues is all about — we’re in it for the long haul.

To help us with this commitment, many generous Houstonians and friends from across the country have stepped up as we’re getting closer to reaching our Hurricane Harvey response fundraising goal to help our veterans continue to report for duty in our Houston communities. Continue reading “#HoustonStrong: Rebuilding After Hurricane Harvey”

Change Happens from the Ground Up, and that Starts with Me

May 23, 2017
By Mason Leist, Fellow

I was in the fifth grade when I saw the terrorist attacks of 9/11 unfold on television. Though I was only a child, the day left me with a strong desire to defend my country. The call to serve rang even louder as I grew up listening to my granddad and uncle telling stories of their time at war. I answered the call when I joined the United States Army at the age of 20, and deployed to Afghanistan soon thereafter. It was time for me to live my own war stories.

As an infantryman I trained the Afghanistan Uniformed Police to make the roads safe for civilian travel. I was proud of the work I did to support my team. Though I was grateful that we all got home in one piece, the person who came home in 2015 stood in stark contrast to the one who enlisted in 2012. The smallest things incensed me. So I drank and told myself things would be better in a couple months. A couple months came and went. I was still drunk and still mad.

Seeing the effect this had on those I loved made me come to terms with post-traumatic stress and seek help through the PTSD Foundation of America. After I navigated my own challenges, I knew it was time for me to forge my own path forward. Luckily a friend introduced me to The Mission Continues, and just like that, it was time to find my sense of purpose again.

That’s what made The Mission Continues stand out to me: they inspired me by proving I could change the world, starting in my own community.

My Mission Continues Fellowship at the PTSD Foundation of America empowers me to do exactly that in my city of San Antonio. I bring the community together by mentoring veterans and their families. After my six-month fellowship concludes, I hope to do even more to help veterans like myself navigate the challenges of PTSD.

Change happens from the ground up — and that starts with me. It’s why I enlisted in the military, and it’s why I continue to serve today. It’s also why I ask you to support veterans like me who are impacting their communities through fellowships and service platoons all over the country.

I was inspired to serve by the war stories of my uncle and grandfather. And now, with your support, my generation of veterans has its own stories to tell: stories of how we continued serving our country even after we came home.

 

 

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.

The Decision I Made, 15 Years Ago Today

September 11, 2016
By Brandi Peasley

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I vividly remember the day I left active duty. It was October 1999 and I’d completed my 5-year commitment in the United States Army after graduating from West Point. I signed the paperwork to switch to a Reserve commission and assume my placement into the Individual Ready Reserve. At the time, I thought it was odd how much it bothered me to take off the uniform but I was very determined to go find success out in the civilian world.

Continue reading “The Decision I Made, 15 Years Ago Today”

Equest Gets a Hand from Dallas/Ft. Worth 1st Platoon

November 18, 2014
Jeff Hensley

What do you do when you have all the puzzle pieces needed to serve veterans but not enough manpower to put them in place? Call The Mission Continues!

I’m the Program Counselor at Equest, a Dallas-area non-profit that has helped special needs children and adults through the power of equine therapy for over three decades. Two years ago, Equest began the “Hooves for Heroes” program, leveraging their expertise in equine therapy to help transitioning veterans and military families. We’ve accomplished much, but the need is great. Continue reading “Equest Gets a Hand from Dallas/Ft. Worth 1st Platoon”