November 28, 2017
By Kathy French, Mission Continues Supporter
I was raised a very practical person – a necessity – as we were a middle class family where purchases were thought out and used to meet needs. Wants were covered by allowance money from mowing the lawn and other chores.
A key phrase from my childhood if I wanted something was “save your money.” Saving my money wasn’t enough to get me to my childhood dream of being an engineer to help our country tackle its infrastructure challenges.
However, through the generosity of others via scholarships, I got to achieve my dream via graduation from the top-rated Harvey Mudd College with a general engineering degree. My degree got me into a career of environmental engineering and emissions compliance from power plants.
In the last several years after my debts were paid off and I was able to actually establish a savings account, I took stock of the road I was headed down and realized that I had lost that discernment between needs and wants and I had to break from keeping up with the Smiths and Joneses.
By not buying a new car just so I could say it was new or carrying a brand-name purse just to create an appearance, or upgrading my 1970’s era fully functional kitchen, I found I was able to create a bucket of disposable income that I knew, borrowing the term from the 2000 movie, I wanted to “pay it forward.”
However, I was left with the struggle of finding a hardworking, deserving person to pay it forward to.
Following up from a co-worker’s email of a great new charity, I attended the Veterans Day Weekend Celebration held by the Mission Continues in 2009 and instantly knew I found my hardworking deserving party.
That 2nd annual event had each of the receiving Fellows from the year telling their stories of serving their country first in our Armed Forces and then stepping up again to serve in their communities.
Those stories showed how The Mission Continues had found a way to cover over two needs of our country, reintegrating our Veterans into their communities and rebuilding or improving those communities by utilizing their passion for service, experience and leadership.
I left that night realizing I had to sponsor a Fellow as my means of paying it forward. My first check followed shortly after that first exposure to The Mission Continues.
In 2010, The Veteran’s Day Celebration was upgraded to a Gala and there I had the honor of meeting Felicia, the first Fellow I sponsored. After talking to her for 10 minutes I was in awe of the passion she showed for the emergency counseling she had done in her Fellowship and the boundless energy and passion she had for helping her community all while raising kids.
I left that conversation so energized and proud to have been a part of helping focus such incredible energy in a positive direction.
Our conversation was the catalyst for me to write another check for a Fellow sponsorship and each time I attend a service project or Gala, I continue to come away knowing that paying it forward means so much more to me than a new kitchen.
This year I got to meet Jonathan, another Fellow I sponsored. We spent about twenty minutes where I had the privilege of learning his dreams and plans which included both his family and his community.
Yet again I was in awe and humbled by his strength of conviction of wanting to continue serving his community and country. I left that conversation teary eyed and ever more resolute that my sponsoring of Fellows is better than any new car, piece of nice jewelry, or remodeled kitchen.
I am paying it forward and helping The Mission Continues fulfill needs.
Today is #GivingTuesday, and if you feel inspired, we would appreciate if you would consider make a contribution to further our mission.
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.