After 2 years of working at Edison High School, Philadelphia 1st Platoon is expanding their operation to include additional schools throughout the district.
In order to ensure that the expansion and growth is done in a strategic, human-centered way, our staff (City Impact Manager Stephanie Grimes and Regional Project Specialist Marvin Cadet) traveled to Philadelphia to facilitate a visioning and design session with stakeholders from the Philadelphia School Districts Office of Special Education and leadership and JROTC students from Martin Luther King High School.
When my son was younger, I loved reading him a children’s book about a community in Chad, Africa. Following the rainy season each year, neighbors came together to rebuild the local school, which they’d made the previous year from mud bricks. The bricks eroded in the rains, and people of all ages joined hands to erect a new building. It is a beautiful tale of shared experience and purpose.
I’m drawn to stories of collective action: modern “barn raisings” where communities come together to build playgrounds in urban centers, revitalize and restore our schools, and repair homes for those in need. It’s both the outcome(structures that are needed by the community) and the process (endeavors that bring people together in sweat, challenge, and joy) that make these stories inspiring.
As a country, we seem to have lost our way in this regard. As we succumb to the many forces that divide us, we lose out on both the structures, and the bonds, that result from shared experience and shared purpose.
The good news is that there are ways to restore this human characteristic and long-standing aspect of our country’s history. With your help, The Mission Continues is building a veteran-led movement to recapture unity. By locking arms in support of shared missions, veterans and their neighbors are addressing important needs in under-resourced communities across the country.
I loved being a soldier and I am proud to be a transgender person. No one deserves to endure what I did.
I had the desire to join the Army as a result of two driving forces. The first, my grandfather was a disabled World War II Veteran who fell madly in love with my grandmother, an Army nurse who treated his wounds. As you can tell by that quick anecdote, military service was deeply rooted into my family’s framework.
The second motive to enlist was that I desperately needed to feel a connection to something. I needed some sense of belonging. I needed a community. My childhood was fairly grim and clouded. Being transgender but not being able to identify my feelings to an actual concept caused me to have crippling social anxiety and overwhelming sorrow.
I isolated myself, and fell into a deep, daunting, depression. It was as if I was drowning.
I needed to belong to a group and contribute to a cause larger than myself. I had no time to waste–I left home for the United States Army at the age of 17, a few days after my high school graduation.
Earlier this year Puerto Rico Service Platoon Leader Frankie Perez embarked on a 3 month, 1000 mile journey, walking across America with three British and two American veterans with Walking with the Wounded. The group started in Los Angeles on June 2nd and finished in New York City September 6th with a special appearance from former Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.
It is our duty as veteran leaders to inspire change
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on the principles of equality and selflessness that Dr. King embodied. Dr. King believed in celebrating and promoting the worth of every person. He championed for diverse cultures to live and thrive together in a spirit of love, understanding and service to one another.
Through his example, Dr. King challenged and empowered individuals to take action and lift up their neighbors and communities by volunteering. This January, The Mission Continues is issuing a call to serve through our campaign #LegacyofService.
This event was a new opportunity for the Columbus 1st to help fight food insecurity through the creation of an urban farm learning lab! Through a partnership with Hamilton Township High School and the YMCA of Central Ohio, the platoon was able to rehab an old greenhouse and the surrounding outdoor space at Hoover YMCA Park which is about ½ a mile from the high school. Students and staff from the school joined veterans from The Mission Continues for this impactful day of service.
Kim Tapia, a member of the Columbus 1st Leadership Team stepped up to lead the project. 20 volunteers including nine veterans and six students put in 90 volunteer hours total for our Veterans Day campaign with Hamilton Township High School (HTHS).
It was an awesome day with good people and a great project for the community. I will definitely do more projects in the future. Being involved with The Mission Continues has really opened my eyes to see that our community needs help and I’m happy to be involved.
By Mohan Sivaloganathan, Northeast Executive Director
You don’t have to be world-famous to make an impact – you just have to dedicate the time, energy, and effort to work with your community from the ground-up and lead by example.
Derrick Clark, Navy Veteran and The Mission Continues Platoon Leader
For generations, our veterans have inspired people to affect positive change. Here in New York – a city that prides itself in coming together to advance the greater good – our veterans are continuing to step up on behalf of children and families.
From promoting healthy lifestyles to developing youth leadership to creating safe recreation spaces, veterans who serve with The Mission Continues are reclaiming a sense of purpose and gaining recognition as one of the city’s most vital levers for social impact.
As we look forward to 2019, we see that we’ve reached a tipping point for our work in New York City. In the coming year, we will activate more veterans than ever and truly position veterans at the forefront of the city’s service movement.
On Sunday, November 11th the Tampa Platoons brought together volunteers to transform the home of disabled Air Force veteran Gary Westmoreland in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Hillsborough County.