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.

Continue reading “Years After Fellowship, Veteran Recalls Renewed Purpose”

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”

A Last Salute: Reflections from the Fellowship Program

August 17, 2018

Now that our final class — Alpha 2018 — of fellows have completed their term of service, we’d like to reflect on the legacy of fellows throughout the program’s 11 years. Here are a few fellow alumni from across the country on where they are now and what the fellowship meant to their personal growth and professional leadership. Continue reading “A Last Salute: Reflections from the Fellowship Program”

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!

Hale Pono Boys & Girls Club
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”

Woman Fashion Designer, Veteran, and Immigrant Turns Challenges into Opportunities

July 31, 2018

Inspired by her childhood in Mexico, Carolina was destined to become a fashion designer with a purpose. Carolina said, “I used to observe my mother making clothes for my siblings and myself. Seeing her transform fabrics into garments intrigued me to the point that it motivated me to come to the United States.”

At the age of 18, Carolina left everything she knew in the hopes of attending design school in the United States. “The simple pleasures that most natives took for granted like simply understanding a movie in English was a daunting task,” she describes.

Thrust into a different culture and language was challenging — but she pushed herself to adapt to her new environment. For five years she worked during the day and completed English as Second Language classes (ESL) at night. Continue reading “Woman Fashion Designer, Veteran, and Immigrant Turns Challenges into Opportunities”

Veterans Create Stars of Hope in Puerto Rico

May 24, 2017

On Saturday, April 28, veterans from The Mission Continues Puerto Rico Service Platoon partnered with Panamericano Hospital for an impactful day of service they dubbed Stars of Hope.

Since Hurricane Maria struck the island, veterans and community members from The Mission Continues Service Platoons in Puerto Rico, Miami and Orlando have been working hard to provide support and service to the individuals, families and communities impacted by the hurricane’s devastation. Continue reading “Veterans Create Stars of Hope in Puerto Rico”

You Are Never Too Far Gone to Make it Back Again

May 23, 2018
By Luke Merideth, Fellow

I have been a medic, a nurse, an electrician, a drug dealer and a chaplain. That last career change was, of course, the most substantial. This is the story of how I overcame drug addiction and am now helping others do the same.

I don’t remember a time when my mother was not on drugs, and I do remember being hungrier than I should have been. Though my mother struggled, she taught my siblings and me how to love others even when she was not very good to herself. I moved out when I was 16 years old, forging paperwork to sign myself into high school as a minor.

Once I was in the military I soon found a camaraderie and acceptance I had been looking for. I wasn’t the poor kid, I was an equal. There was no black or white or brown, we were all green. (Or blue, or tan, depending on which uniform we were wearing, but you get the idea.)

Then came 9/11…Afghanistan…Iraq. I had no idea what to do. What I found is that all of the people getting deployed with me to a war zone were regular human beings like me. We banded together and did the job, but the job was ugly.

I was a Naval Hospital Corpsman deployed in support of the Marines to Al Qi’Im, a city in Iraq near the border of Syria. We received mortar fire, but much worse were the casualties from the patrols in town.

I ate breakfast with friends and then saw them die on my table hours later. We banded together and we did the job, the ugly job, and we decided to bottle it up and feel it later.

It took a while… but later came. Continue reading “You Are Never Too Far Gone to Make it Back Again”

Now a Veteran, Chicago Native Volunteers to End Gun Violence

May 16, 2018

Rogelio was born and raised in the South Side of Chicago, and found his sense of purpose when he joined the Army National Guard in 2005. Three years later he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

As a gunner Rogelio’s primary job was to be the eyes and ears for his truck team, and first line of defense for his convoy. However, the most challenging part for him during his deployment was being separated from his two young daughters. To push through, he focused on his mission and duty to his team.

However, the most challenging part for him during his deployment was being separated from his two young daughters. To push through, he focused on his mission and duty to his team.

After six years of service, Rogelio was honorably discharged from the US Army in 2011. “Some of the challenges I faced reintegrating back in the civilian life were pretty rough,” Rogelio recounts. “My second daughter was only about 7 months old when I deployed. I came back a year later she didn’t know who I was, and would run away from me when I tried to hug her.”

When Rogelio returned home to Chicago he also struggled to find work. He said, “I needed a mission in my life to help me deal with my personal issues, one of these being PTSD.” Motivated by his sense of civic duty, he found a new mission volunteering as a mentor at the YMCA’s Urban Warriors program, which connects at-risk youth with veteran mentors. Continue reading “Now a Veteran, Chicago Native Volunteers to End Gun Violence”

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”

In Pittsburgh, the Story of How I Made My Veteran Identity Meaningful

March 29, 2018
By Patricia Gerhauser, Platoon Leader

Patricia Gerhauser is a Navy veteran and Mission Continues rockstar. She is not only a fellowship alumna, but is supervising a current fellow, and platoon leader for the Hazelwood Platoon in Pittsburgh, Pa. Patricia was recently selected to attend this year’s Women Veterans Leadership Summit. Read her story to get to know one of our kickass attendees. Continue reading “In Pittsburgh, the Story of How I Made My Veteran Identity Meaningful”