Why I’m Passionate about Veteran Community Leaders

What was at first a volunteer passion project has turned into a career.

By Nitza Rivera, volunteer

I have been able to see first-hand how something that may seem so insignificant to one person, can improve the quality of life for another.

Nitza interviewed by the press for her Veterans Day 2018 service.

I truly believe that veteran leadership in our communities is just as important for the veteran as it is for the community it’s impacting.

With all my military moves through the different parts of this country and abroad, one thing remains constant, and that is the lack of leadership within our communities. It doesn’t necessarily mean that communities don’t care, I think that a lot of the times community members don’t know who to reach out to or where to look for guidance.

Planting and Clearing Garden Beds at Seeds of Faith Community Garden

For me, and other veterans, leaving the service left a void in our passion to serve others. Having the opportunity to use our leadership experience to serve and help mentor members in our communities fills that void. It also provides a platform of peer support for other veterans within the community, and the opportunity for the community to interact and learn about veterans.

Continue reading “Why I’m Passionate about Veteran Community Leaders”

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!

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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”

Bravo Class of 2017: Changing Our Life Story by Helping Youth Do the Same

April 5, 2017

This weekend The Mission Continues is rising to new heights by coming to the mountainous city of Denver, Colorado, for our Bravo Class of 2017 Orientation. Orientation marks the beginning of a new chapter for our new fellows and platoon leaders, as they will embark on a new mission to serve again. In doing so, they will be changing the veteran narrative, where they step up to the plate to serve their country even after they’ve come home. We are pleased to welcome this new class of platoon leaders and fellows into our Mission Continues family. Their first act of service will take place at the Tennyson Center for Children, where they will kick off our new relationship with a day of meaningful impact. Continue reading “Bravo Class of 2017: Changing Our Life Story by Helping Youth Do the Same”

Teaming Two Unlikely Pairs in Orlando

March 17, 2017
By Melissa Geiwitz, Community Partner

The Mission Continues recently asked Home Builders Institute (HBI), “How are we doing?”

Immediately, we reminisced about the unique and special relationship The Mission Continues has helped forge between our Central Florida veterans and youth. In an effort to bring positive role models into the lives of juvenile justice-involved youth, a program called Project Bridge has teamed the two unlikely pairs, and it has led to meaningful and impactful work for so many.

Since September 2015, HBI and Eckerd Kids Project Bridge have partnered with The Mission Continues Orlando 1st Service Platoon. With this innovative partnership, veterans can continue serving at home while solving specific challenges in their communities.

In Orlando, the mission of the local platoon is working with Project Bridge youth who are at risk of failing in major tasks necessary to assure a productive life. Continue reading “Teaming Two Unlikely Pairs in Orlando”

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. Continue reading “The Blue that Binds: Why We Love ToolBank USA”

Everybody Wins When Nonprofits Partner

September 22, 2016
By Jessica Herring, Fellow Alum

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How My Story Began

It was February of 2003 when I learned my first trip to see the world would be to a giant sandbox, and unfortunately it wouldn’t be to build sandcastles. I had joined the military partially to see the world, and partially to continue my family legacy of service. I was in basic training when the attacks of 9/11 occurred. It was then that I knew I might be deployed. But little did I know that serving at the time I did and deploying to the middle east would change my life in more ways than I can count.

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Being in the military allowed me to push up my curls and pull on my boots, and ensure that everyone saw the badass I believed myself to be. But while I was on deployment, my convoy was hit by an IED, and I sustained injuries which sent me out of country in January of 2004, and eventually lead to my medical retirement in 2006.

In many ways, I had a successful transition back to civilian life. I found a civilian job and had a family. But my battle with PTSD and TBI was my achilles heel, and I fell into a rather dark place. Feeling alone, lacking usefulness, and feeling lost and unsure of the path I should be taking in life, was soon my norm.

Luckily, a fellow veteran recommended I try out The Mission Continues service platoons as an outlet, and that they partner with other nonprofits and communities to amplify everyone’s impact. Who knew that hammering nails and digging holes with a bunch of mouthy vets would be what I needed?

 

Serving Again, with Nonprofits who Partner

My first real introduction into the importance of giving and caring for others and the foundation of my life’s ambitions comes from my mother. After divorcing my father, my mother took care of me and my three siblings, and took in local children in need of a place to stay, ensuring they had everything they needed to get by on a daily basis. That same spirit of caring for others I saw growing up came back into my life with my volunteer work.

After several years of serving with my local service platoons, a fellowship opportunity with a local nonprofit came up. Again, partnering with other nonprofits seemed to be a win-win all around — for myself, The Mission Continues, their partner nonprofits, and the communities we all were serving. Being aware of my desire to ultimately work with nonprofits, my platoon leader thought I’d be a perfect fit for Hemisfair Conservancy, as they were willing to teach me all the gooey innards of nonprofit management, and I would be able to experience how urban development could have a positive impact on the local culture and community.

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I earned a fellowship, and I quickly fell in love with Hemisfair, its mission, the work it does and the people who ensure it’s a well-oiled machine. This park is a place to go for those who cannot afford to go to Seaworld or Six Flags or travel out of the state, or even out of the city. It is wonderland for many. It is a place of adventure for children and one where they have access to free books, activities, games and time with their friends and family in a safe and fun environment.

Being part of Hemisfair Conservancy contributed to my overall self-growth and gave me the ability to work on the goals I had set with Mission Continues, and ultimately with myself.

Even though they were able to accomplish so much, the Conservancy was still suffering from the one thing that plagues most nonprofits: a lack of funds and manpower. With an office consisting of just two employees, my entrance empowered the Conservancy to utilize my skills, freeing time for them to work on researching, writing and completing grants and funding options for the park and its programming.

This partnership allowed both organizations to help each other achieve their goals: The Mission Continues helped veterans find a place in the world, the Conservancy gained the manpower they needed to make their organization more efficient and impactful.

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It is wonderful to be able to tell myself that I will not go back to bed and cover my head, hiding from the world. Rather, I will work to get everything I can out of life, the world and its people. Through my fellowship with The Mission Continues at the Hemisfair Conservancy, I was able to build a solid framework for myself, one that I can always build upon.

 

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 Mission Continues, Community Partner of The Year

June 10, 2016

Last year we teamed up with Partnership for L.A. Schools (PLAS) to help youth in underprivileged neighborhoods. The Mission Continues was recently recognized for this work as “Community Partner of The Year,” a distinction given to a PLAS partner who “passionately and generously works to develop and strengthen the school community.” The award was given at the Up Awards, which are hosted by PLAS annually to honor parents, teachers, and leaders in the community that support PLAS Schools.

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The Mission Continues 2nd and 3rd Service Platoons in LA served in the Boyle Heights and Watts communities, respectively. Platoon Leaders Richard Krykew and Majken Geiman have lead the way in both leadership and heart to make this partnership flourish.

Continue reading “The Mission Continues, Community Partner of The Year”

Forging Doghouses, and Bonds, with The Mission Continues

June 10, 2015
By Jessica Broussard

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Whenever I tell anyone that I am a middle school math teacher, the typical response is, “Oh, I’m sorry. I was never good at math!”

Math needs a real good PR guy.

I love the rules, the creativity that it allows, how often you get to make mistakes and learn from them. I just finished my sixth year as a teacher in the second largest school district in the country, Los Angeles Unified School District, where my students build, design and learn. Most of our students are bused from the inner city every day.

My colleague and mentor Jeff Nielsen and I came up with this crazy idea: students would use geometry to design and build dog houses, sell them and then donate the money to local animal shelters. The only problem was that neither of us knew how to build a dog house.


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I have no idea what made me think of veterans to help us. For some reason they seemed like people who would know how to take a team of kids and build something. So I googled “veterans helping their community.” Best Google search of my life. The Mission Continues website was the first hit and I clicked. As soon as I got in touch with Tristan Williamson and their team, I knew this would be a life affirming experience.   Continue reading “Forging Doghouses, and Bonds, with The Mission Continues”