Years After Fellowship, Veteran Recalls Renewed Purpose

Once told by doctors she’d never be able to work, this veteran defied expectations by volunteering daily with The Mission Continues.

One serendipitous day at church, Howard Kympton met a veteran named Meeka McWilliams. After some chatting, they discovered they had something in common: The Mission Continues!

It turned out that Howard was the father of the president of The Mission Continues (Spencer Kympton), while Meeka had participated in its Fellowship Program in 2017. After hearing all that Meeka overcame as a veteran, Howard concluded that her story was “nothing short of remarkable.” He told us, “She’s an amazing young woman with a marvelous experience to share.” Today we share with you Meeka’s fellowship story, as told by her.

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San Diego Veterans Are Making an Impact with Future Achievers

By Tristan Williamson

If you were to mention the name Logan Heights to the residents of San Diego whose experience with the historic neighborhood amounts to driving past it on Interstate 5, it’s likely that their reaction would be largely informed by the decades-old stigma brought on by the Tijuana Cartel-allied gang bearing this community’s name – the Logan Heights Gang. You would hear about the 1-square mile community’s reputation for violent crime, how its poverty level sits three times higher than that of San Diego, or its quadrupled population density compared to the rest of the city.

You probably wouldn’t hear about the culture of historic resilience in Logan – how what was once the largest Chicano population on the west coast became displaced by new infrastructure as San Diego grew, sowing the seeds of grassroots activism and neighborhood advocacy.

There’s a certain grit about Logan Heights derived from that legacy of collective efficacy that has made neighbors out of co-residents. Shared trust and solidarity bring neighbors out of their homes to keep an eye on the side streets and alleyways or to help a neighbor in need.

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The Road to Mass Deployment

By Janet Newsome, Senior Regional Admissions Specialist

The Mission Continues has officially launched applications for our 4th Mass Deployment, Operation Charm City Charge (OC3), which will take place for one week in beautiful Baltimore, Maryland in June 2019! As any previous attendee can attest, the Mass Deployment experience is more than just a week of high-impact volunteerism in one city. It’s an investment in yourself as a community leader.

With all of this excitement circling around Mass Deployment, we want to offer you a behind-the-scenes look at our selection process! (Shhh…don’t tell anyone! It’s supposed to be a secret!!!)

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My Transition Was Easy, Finding Meaning After Service Was Not

By Heather Byington

On paper, I’m one of those vets who lack job stability and goal attainment after serving. Nearly four years after retirement, I’m back to square one. I wear many part-time hats: platoon leader, personal trainer, student, and Lyft driver.  It’s not the traditional definition of success, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Mission Continues Jobs and How To Get Them

By Caitlin Zbikowski, staff

My name is Caitlin Zbikowski and I’m the Manager of Talent Acquisition & Onboarding at The Mission Continues. Eight years ago, I began my search for employment. I was a Senior at the University of Missouri – Columbia (“Mizzou”). I aspired to work for a nonprofit organization in St. Louis (my hometown) after I graduated.

I had never heard of The Mission Continues before. They never came up in my searches. I had never thought about working with veterans, which was very strange because my brother was a post 9/11 veteran. After I started reading about their mission, vision and the programs they had to offer veterans like my brother, I WAS HOOKED! I really put my heart and soul into my application and interviews, so when I was extended an offer, I cried a little.

No more about me though. Let’s shift gears – talk about you – and what you can expect as an applicant.

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Including Women in our Stories of Service

By Aryanna Berringer, volunteer

No one’s story should be suppressed or ignored, but all too often, that is the case for women veterans. We strive to empower women veterans to be leaders in and through our programs. We want to highlight one such story in anticipation of our 4th annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit and in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Aryanna Berringer is a Women Veterans Leadership Summit attendee and an active volunteer with our Pittsburgh service platoons. Here is her story as told by her. If you’re as inspired by these stories as we are, consider donating. Your support empowers women veterans to realize their full potential as civic leaders.

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Is it Enough? A Piece of Justice Blues

By David Riera, platoon member

I can remember being in school when Columbus Day was still on the calendar and MLK Day was celebrated as part of Black History Week. Now in 2019, almost 22 years after my last Black history report in U.S. History class, and 12 years since I received my honorable discharge, I reflect back and note that a day or a week was not justice at all.

As we completed our 2019 MLK project at Brownsville Middle School in Miami, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many other civic and community groups come to lend their strength, ‘cause three hours of raking dead leaves is no laughing matter, but at the end we all had smiles on our faces.  

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