The Battle for (Bio)Diversity

February 23, 2018
By David Riera, Fellow Alum

Social equality – or the lack thereof — has played a deciding role in how communities identify, thrive, survive, or die. Every community — from the veteran community to the conservation community — has to actively find those voices that have been left out of the conversation, and empower them to be heard.

As I reflect on the works of African American legends like Dr. King, George Washington Carver, the Buffalo Soldiers, and other personal heroes of mine, I am prompted to be mindful where social, economic, and environmental justice for all can (and needs to) be intertwined.

Volunteering with the National Parks Conservation Association through The Mission Continues Fellowship Program catapulted me into my desired field: environmental conservation.

Now as a veteran, scientist, and conservationist, I’ve begun to think more about the social dynamics of conservation. Continue reading “The Battle for (Bio)Diversity”

How a Veteran and His Family Transitioned Together

January 3, 2018
By Derek Auguste, Platoon Leader

Derek Auguste's wife and son volunteering at a service project with The Mission Continues

I feel this is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention.

After you transition out of the military and into civilian life, you might be coming back to a family that’s been living without you for a while. It’s not just you that’s “transitioning” — it’s your family too. That transition is tough. It was for me. It was for my wife and kids.

 

Feeling Like an Outsider

I taught my children that celebrating birthdays and holidays were not as important as the time we had together overall. This philosophy was meant to protect them from being disappointed if I was unable to be home for such special occasions. I thought I was protecting them. But really, I was protecting myself from feeling guilty. Continue reading “How a Veteran and His Family Transitioned Together”

Nailed It: Using My Fellowship to Construct a New Beginning

December 22, 2017
By Rana Moore, Fellow Alum

 

Residential construction is not a field in which many women choose to make their careers, but I have found that the time management, organization, strategy, and leadership skills — all skills I learned in the Marine Corps — are highly valuable there.

I originally joined the military wanting to make a little difference in the big world, and I wanted to challenge myself. I discovered that ability to make a difference and to challenge myself in the military. I served my country for five years, and when I had to leave to raise my children, it left me with a hole in my heart after which I found myself wandering and wondering what to do with my life after leaving the Corps.

I needed to be a part of the big picture again. The Mission Continues Fellowship Program gave me the opportunity to begin the path to a new career. My fellowship host site, Pensacola’s Habitat for Humanity, offered me the opportunity to make a big difference in a small community. Continue reading “Nailed It: Using My Fellowship to Construct a New Beginning”

How I Was Inspired to Become a Platoon Leader

December 8, 2017
Anthony Fedele, Platoon Leader

Anthony Fedele volunteering with The Mission Continues

Before I became a platoon leader, I was unsure of where I was headed. I was lost, floating in the sea of confusion, misdirection, and distraction.

I was first introduced to The Mission Continues through their Mass Deployment program. That intense week of service made me feel as though someone had pulled me up onto the ship, gave me an oxygen mask, and patted me on the bum saying, “Go this way…”

I felt alive again.

After Mass Deployment I decided to travel to visit service platoons in the Northeast. I was in awe of the platoon leaders’ selflessness, community-driven motivation, and commitment to service. These were individuals who showed me what the word “leader” really meant.

Anthony Fedele volunteering with The Mission Continues

This inspired me to become a platoon leader too, and to grow into the shoes of my predecessors.

Being a platoon leader has given me the opportunity to do just that — bring veterans and civilians together. Together we have contributed almost 1,600 volunteer hours in Philadelphia this past year.

Platoon leaders have the ability to bring people together for a common cause. To benefit both our veteran brothers and sisters and the communities in which we belong to that have been desperately waiting for leaders like us to show up. We know deep down inside our actions have had a real impact on our community.

I have seen our youth volunteers grow throughout the year. They started out having no idea what tool names were, and now they are able to build planters, benches, dugouts, and sometimes even share their newfound knowledge with adults.

But the most impactful experience for me is being able to watch veterans transform through this process too. Being able to see that light reignited in their eyes as they work with the youth, teaching and coaching them throughout the day.

I can see that hole inside them start to close up just a little bit.

People often ask me why I do the things that I do here in Philadelphia. Here is my answer: I have been fortunate enough to find a new direction to follow and as I continue down this path, it is on me to be the one who turns around and reaches back into the darkness to the next individual who is looking for that guidance.

Our Mission Continues.

 

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.

Miami 1st Platoon: Hurricane Irma Meets its Match

October 5, 2017
By David Riera, Platoon Member & 2016 Fellow

Volunteers from The Mission Continues in Florida after Hurricane IrmaVolunteers from The Mission Continues in Florida after Hurricane Irma

Irma took three days to show up at my door in Miami. As a member of the Miami 1st Platoon, we responded in the same way the team in Houston did to Hurricane Harvey. The feeling was intense to say the least, but very focused and organized. I felt a surging calmness as I prepared for the worst.

Over three days our team purchased supplies using our own resources, and executed the lockdown of nearly 25 homes (not counting our own). This included everything from hanging steel window shutters, bolting down plywood sheets, and slamming down sandbags.

“While there is no way to measure the number of lives saved by these actions, it is safe to say lives have been saved” said the Miami 1st Platoon Leader, Derek Auguste.   Continue reading “Miami 1st Platoon: Hurricane Irma Meets its Match”

Charlie Class 2017: Kicking Off A New Path of Service with Sports for Youth

July 14, 2017

Today we welcome 96 fellows and 14 platoon leaders of Charlie Class 2017 to a weekend of Orientation in Boston. We will be joining forces with the Boston 1st Platoon to help them kick off a new mission in the Dorchester area. These fellows and platoon leaders are veterans who have committed to serving their country again, this time in a different way. They have decided to use their leadership, discipline, and teamwork skills to combat homelessness, climate change, childhood poverty, and many other challenges we face here on the home front.

Our fellows will be embedding with local nonprofits in their cities for six months, while our platoon leaders will be leading groups of veterans to complete service projects to support places like nonprofits in underserved neighborhoods, national parks, urban gardens, and public schools.

The Boston 1st Service Platoon, a group of dedicated volunteers, have identified Dorchester as the best place to focus their efforts. Dorchester is Boston’s largest and most ethnically diverse neighborhood, as it is home to large Irish, Vietnamese and Cape Verdean communities. Dorchester has the second highest rate of child poverty in the Boston area, coming in at 39.2 percent, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. In addition, the Boston Police report that a few Dorchester neighborhoods are gang “hotspots.”

City Impact Manager Stephanie Grimes said that the platoon’s goal in Boston is “to expand athletic, nutrition and academic programming available to community members.” With this in mind, she found a partner in a nonprofit called All Dorchester Sports & Leadership. Continue reading “Charlie Class 2017: Kicking Off A New Path of Service with Sports for Youth”

I Became a Gladiator for the Environment

June 5, 2017
By David Riera, Fellow

Capitol Hill is like a Roman Colosseum, complete with all the ornate statues, marble surfaces and fountains. Both attract the affluent and impoverished alike, the streets filled with merchants, guards, and citizens waiting to attend the “games.” Who would have ever thought I would find myself participating in these great political games?

I traveled to Washington D.C. with the National Parks Conservation Association to ask Congress to protect our public lands. I visited their home office, a two floor hub filled with everything an environmentalist and champion for the parks could ever hope to have in order to prepare for the lengthy battles ahead. Continue reading “I Became a Gladiator for the Environment”

Jon Stewart Joins The Mission Continues for Earth Day

April 24, 2017

On Earth Day, TV personality and veteran advocate Jon Stewart joined Mission Continues volunteers to help restore the Bronx Forest. We worked with Bronx River Alliance, New York City Parks, and community volunteers to remove invasive species, add reinforcements to native species, blaze a new path in the Bronx Forest, and clean the Bronx River.

Jon Stewart welcomed the crowd of volunteers, saying, “Our country – our world – has so many problems, veterans and first responders are solutions waiting to happen. When we can combine veterans and first responders to our problems, we can do anything.”

It was heartening to see veterans from across New York City gather to protect the Bronx Forest’s natural landscape. This service project was one of many led by The Mission Continues where veterans mobilized together to solve challenges specific to their communities. In the Bronx, The Mission Continues’ local New York 2nd Service Platoon is committed to neighborhood beautification and arts development.

Continue reading “Jon Stewart Joins The Mission Continues for Earth Day”

#HerMission: Pittsburgh 1st Platoon Pioneers All-Women Service Project

April 14, 2017
By Stephanie Grimes, City Impact Manager

Whatever you did with your Saturday, the Pittsburgh 1st Service Platoon did something you’ll definitely want to hear about. This platoon pioneered a special kind of project on April 8th — one empowering women veterans and civilians.

This platoon tackles neighborhood revitalization in a part of Pittsburgh called Hazelwood, and this project’s objective was to give the library classroom at the Center of Life a makeover. Over 50 women veterans, family members, Center of Life staff, and Hazelwood residents, brought the vision of the Hazelwood’s children to reality.

Center of Life is a community empowerment organization in Hazelwood that offers academic, music and sports programming. They are committed to empowering families to bring economic revitalization to their communities. For this project, women of the Hazelwood community and female staff at Center of Life worked with women of the Pittsburgh 1st Platoon to plan, and execute the #HerMission Library Room Makeover project.

During the project planning stage, local Navy veteran Lauren DelRicci, jumped right in as a project lead. This was her first time serving with The Mission Continues, and she said, “I can already tell, the sense of group accomplishment will motivate me to continue serving.” As for this project’s significance, Lauren said, “An all-female service project shines as a beacon of inspiration for women everywhere, especially female veterans.”

We also welcomed women from Wounded Warrior Project, Team Rubicon and Team Red White and Blue to come out to serve alongside their sisters. Most impactful of all, we gave leadership roles to platoon members who hadn’t yet had the opportunity to step up and show us what they are made of. After trying their hand at leading, several women veterans expressed interest in taking on formal leadership roles within the platoon, and even the possibility of working towards becoming a Platoon Leader.

This project was funded through a generous grant the Center of Life received from The Heinz Endowments. Project activities included making puppets while teaching children how to sew and building a puppet theater and a reading loft. We painted the walls and bookshelves to go with the room’s new theme, “The Sunrise.” We ordered new lighting, organized books and games, upholstered new seating made from milk crates, and put together new furniture from IKEA.

By the end of the day, the platoon had inspired female veterans to join in unity through service at home while showing the children and families of Hazelwood that there are people who care about them and are invested in their success.

 

 

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.