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.
My most vivid memories of my grandma are those in which she exemplified engaged citizenship, a can-do attitude and showcased how powerful a woman could be. She was the first in her family to go to college, valedictorian of her high school class, while working in the restaurant her immigrant parents owned after school and on weekends.
For as traditional as she was, she was also unconventional. She didn’t marry until she was nearly 30 years of age – almost rebellious in the 1950s. Her husband, a World War II Army Air Corps vet and firefighter, passed away after less than a decade of marriage.
Left with two small children to care for, my grandmother went back to school to get her master’s degree in education and spent nearly the next 25 years of her life teaching elementary school while pushing two successful young adults to pursue their dreams.
She did this while proving she didn’t need to subscribe to the traditional family structure of the time – husband, wife and 2.5 kids. She fiercely proved her independence and place in society even when others questioned her ability to do so.
Through years as a public school teacher, dedicated volunteer at the Historical Society, Garden Club and Ronald McDonald House, and her consistent involvement in local politics, it was easy to have a commitment to service ingrained in my lifestyle. I had seen it consistently for 33 year of my life.
We lost her one year ago, after she quietly made a profound difference for 96 years on this earth. It wasn’t until after I had finished cleaning up from Baltimore’s first #HerMission project on May 20th that I realized it had been a year since she passed. Exactly one year since her memorial service. Continue reading “How One #HerMission Project Inspired Future Generations”
July 5, 2018 Shannon Thompson, Platoon Leadership Team
There’s this saying my father, a US Navy veteran, said to me as a child: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” I live by this saying. It’s what motivated me to enlist in the military at the age of 17 to earn a college education, and it’s what inspired me to see what else I was capable of after completing 12 years as an airman.
It’s what inspired me to serve again with The Mission Continues.
My transition into civilian life catapulted me into a world that didn’t understand my military career. My new civilian job didn’t challenge me at all, and I didn’t have anything outside of my routine. It all felt so mundane.
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.
Meet the group of exceptional women veterans who are on the frontlines of community change. There were a total of 75 participants attending the Women Veterans Leadership Summit, and while every woman who attended is a rockstar, we wanted to share a sample cross-section of 10 participants from across the country as examples of the variety of backgrounds, experiences, and stories that are represented at our summit each year.
77 dynamic women veteran leaders will gather in DC for this weekend for our 3rd annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit. Together they’ll engage in communication and writing workshops, experience inspiring speakers, and grow their personal and professional networks.
This is a unique forum to exchange ideas and solutions around the challenges women veterans face while developing pathways to increase women veteran leadership within their communities.
As we countdown the days to the summit, we want to highlight some of our participants and how they came to The Mission Continues. Here’s Karen Quiles’s story.
How the Military Empowered Me
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I grew up in a very humble environment and I had a simple upbringing. Growing up in Puerto Rico was hard for me in many ways. I felt like a lot of programs were out of reach. I started working when I was 15 and became homeless in my late teens, on top of a lack of educational opportunities, family problems, and an unstable government.
“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” -Malala Yousafzai
Across the country, our women veterans have been raising their voices through service on behalf of children, families, and neighborhoods in need. They’ve helped youth to learn about healthy eating, caregivers to open pathways to economic success, and communities to rally around safe and uplifting public spaces.
The #HerMission campaign is our effort to not only recognize those successes and the incredible women who fuel The Mission Continues, but also to unify and catalyze a diverse group of women veterans who will shape our future.
It began last year in Pittsburgh, where the Hazelwood Platoon created the very first #HerMission project, with over 50 women veterans, family members, staff, and residents of the Hazelwood community helped renovate the library at Center of Life community empowerment organization.
This past weekend, nearly 150 women in Boston, Lowell, Pittsburgh, New York City, Newark, and central Florida came together to collectively raise their voices, and their call to act will reverberate for generations.
Volunteering with The Mission Continues has exposed me to people that come from all walks of life
We live in a time when our nation is divided along many lines. Political affiliations, religious beliefs, and personal convictions all set people apart. We hold tight to our beliefs and our individuality, pledging allegiance to the causes we deem worthy.
There is nothing wrong with that.
Because I see that this division stems from the passion that American citizens have for the land we call home. Ultimately, we all want the best outcomes for our country; we strive for brotherhood and unity. We are all unique, and no two people are exactly the same.
I believe that’s what makes us strong as a nation.
And yet, among this division, there is an even more powerful force that can draw even the most divided close.
This force is service!
When we shift our focus to serving as a unit, which I’ve learned is The Mission Continues way, something occurs that is hard to put into words. It illuminates the human spirit. Continue reading “Divided We Serve”