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”

“When I look at the youth in Boyle Heights, I see myself”

November 30, 2017
Majken Geiman, Former Platoon Leader

For a long time I let the fear of disappointment hold me back. Life in Chicago’s south side as the eldest child of a single mother was what you’d imagine. I attended a large public high school, spent hours every day commuting on the bus and subway, failed multiple classes, pawned 35 cents off my friends daily so that I could buy reduced-price lunches, and never intended to pursue education beyond a high school diploma.

Even if I made it as far as college, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pay for it.

All of that changed when I stumbled upon the United States Army’s website. Free college and a commission as an officer? I was sold. By some incredible stroke of luck, I made the cut. That unusual success changed my entire attitude toward life.

I suddenly had people telling me I could be a leader—that I had the ability to inspire others. Being afraid to try was replaced by a belief that I could lead and change the world.

After transitioning from active duty into the National Guard I didn’t have the same type of discipline or feeling of empowerment in my life. But then a Marine friend invited me to attend a service project with The Mission Continues in Pittsburgh.

It was incredible–for the first time I found myself surrounded by people who knew what I was going through and who I could talk and joke with veterans as if I’d known them for years. Finally that sense of purpose and leadership came back.

When I decided to move to Los Angeles I didn’t know anyone, but I did know how to look up the local platoon. I ended up joining the Los Angeles 2nd Platoon, which focuses on youth development and education in Boyle Heights, a low income neighborhood in East LA.

The opportunity to lead the platoon came in 2015. My time as a platoon leader transformed me in ways I never expected. I no longer let fear hold me back; instead I remember my strengths as a leader.

After two years of dedication, we have strong connections with several schools and organizations in Boyle Heights, and regularly hold service projects with and for the students.

I’ve taught a group of teenage girls how to use a drill, and saw their faces light up when they built a bench completely by themselves. I’ve talked to students about college and shared my own experiences. I’ve put veterans and kids together in charge of things when they weren’t sure they knew how, and watched them crush it!

When I look at the youth in Boyle Heights, I see myself. I see kids who have the drive and ability to make it, but who might be afraid to try.

The military helped me push myself at a time when I needed it the most. In the same way my mentors did, I hope I can look the youth of the next generation in the eye and tell them, genuinely, “you can change the world.”

With your support today, veterans like myself can make an impact in neighborhoods like Boyle Heights across the country. I serve and will continue to serve all of them. Please join me by giving this year.

 

Yours in Service,

Majken Geiman

 

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.

The Tampa Ten Join Operation Everglades City

November 18, 2017

During the weekend of October 27th-29th, a group of 30 veterans and civilians converged on Everglades City, FL, a small fishing community of roughly 400 residents. With a quarter of the community’s homes destroyed and deeply damaged by Hurricane Irma, our volunteers arrived with donations, tools and an unwavering spirit of service.

For the past two months, Floridians have faced the adversity of preparing for and recovering from the destruction that Hurricane Irma left in its wake. Measuring 650 miles wide and with storm force winds eclipsing 185 miles per hour, Irma was the strongest recorded storm in the history of the Atlantic.

With millions of residents without power and shelter, and thousands more with homes damaged and destroyed, the veteran leaders of The Mission Continues showed us once again why they are our country’s heroes.

Recognizing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, veteran leaders and volunteers from our Service Platoons in Miami, Broward, Orlando and Tampa decided to join forces and pool resources to maximize their community impact in a community that is outside their normal purview.

Continue reading “The Tampa Ten Join Operation Everglades City”

Catching the Rain: Local Veterans Protect Hawaii’s Water

August 4, 2017

A delicate breeze. A glistening ocean. A beaming sun.

To most Americans, this is our picture of Hawaii. What we don’t picture is all the effort by its residents to keep the islands as beautiful as we imagine they are. But as inhabitants and stewards, it is clear to local Hawaiians that a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle is the best for the islands and future generations of residents.

Christina Finley, Platoon Leader for the Honolulu 1st Service Platoon is on a mission to protect Hawaii’s water. Luckily, she’s not alone — other organizations like Plastic Free Hawaii, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and Clean Water Hawaii all share the same vision. Meeting with them, as she said, inspired her “to help with all that they do to protect the waters of Hawaii. My vision is to lend a helping hand with these projects and assist in the solution of these problems.” Continue reading “Catching the Rain: Local Veterans Protect Hawaii’s Water”

Mass Deployment: “Just another op? I thought so, until it wasn’t”

July 6, 2017
Peggy Schnack, Fellow Alum

Not long after our Mass Deployment to Atlanta, the impact of their weeklong service intensive was apparent to our crew of volunteers. One crew member, Peggy Schnack, shared through our Operation Westside Surge Facebook group a poem about this experience and the impact volunteering has had on her life. Today on the blog we share that poem with our entire Mission Continues family.

I was in a dark place.

A place of despair.

I did not eat

exercise

talk.

Continue reading “Mass Deployment: “Just another op? I thought so, until it wasn’t””

In this Turbulent Time, This Is as Grassroots as I Can Get

June 30, 2017
By Shannon Doty, Platoon Leader

When I took over the Minneapolis 1st Platoon as Platoon Leader last summer, our future was uncertain, but my vision was not.

Shortly before I took over as the Minneapolis Platoon Leader there was a police involved shooting of a man named Philando Castile, a St. Paul resident. His death became national news when his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the aftermath on Facebook, and it was watched by thousands of people within 24 hours.  His murder sparked protests throughout the Twin Cities, and finally forced many in my home to confront the very real fact that while we are progressive in many ways, Minnesota is segregated and a very difficult place for many minorities to live.

I choose to focus my anger, confusion and frustration with a system that was once again failing so many of its citizens, on positive engagement for the future.  I wanted to focus on the long term, how to be a part of the healing of the community in any way I could.  I had the privilege to be able to choose how I approached the aftermath of the death of Philando, and I never forgot that. Continue reading “In this Turbulent Time, This Is as Grassroots as I Can Get”

In My Service Platoon, I Can See the Impact I Have Is Real

June 20, 2017
By Majken Geiman, Platoon Leader

When people ask me why I joined the Army, I usually talk about my desire to serve, wanting to challenge myself, and the satisfaction and pride that I feel being able to help my soldiers learn new skills and develop as leaders. I could gush for hours about happy I am that I signed on the dotted line at 17 years old.

It would all be true, but it wasn’t why I joined. I usually leave out the less glamorous reality – I would likely never have served if it hadn’t meant free college through my ROTC scholarship.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago as the eldest child of a single mother. I attended a large public high school, spent hours every day commuting on the bus and subway, failed multiple classes, pawned 35 cents off my friends daily so that I could buy reduced-price lunch, and never intended to pursue education beyond a high school diploma – if I even made it that far.

I was mostly concerned that if I applied and was accepted into a university, I would never be able to pay for it. Parental assistance wasn’t a reality, and for a long time I let the fear of disappointment prevent me from considering that route.

All of that changed when I stumbled on the Army’s website. Free college and a commission as an officer? I was sold.

By some incredible stroke of luck, I made the cut. That unusual success changed my entire attitude toward my life. I suddenly had people telling me (as wrong as I was sure they were) that I could be a leader—that I had the ability to take care of and to inspire others.

From my first terrible APFT, at which all of the older cadets circled back and ran an extra two laps to finish with me, to graduating with the top GPA in my ROTC Battalion and being trusted to take over my own platoon, I found myself in an echo chamber of support.

Through the military, I learned about brotherhood and the importance of building up the people around you.

I have done my best to take that lesson with me from Chicago to Pittsburgh, to Missouri, and most recently, here to Los Angeles.

The Mission Continues Los Angeles 2nd Service Platoon is a volunteer group geared toward veterans, and is focused on youth development and education in Boyle Heights, a low-income neighborhood in East LA. When I took over as platoon leader in 2015 we were almost brand new. We had a few dedicated volunteers, but not many. We didn’t have an operation.

Two years later I barely recognize the platoon I stepped into. Now we have strong connections with several schools and organizations in Boyle Heights and have completed countless service projects both with and for the students. People reach out to the platoon when they need help – we rarely have to look hard for new projects or opportunities to serve the community.

When I look at the students in Boyle Heights, I see myself. I see kids who have the drive and ability to make it, but who might not yet have the confidence or the resources to try. I know they can get there.

I’ve taught a group of teenage girls how to use a drill, and saw the way their faces lit up when they were able to build a bench completely by themselves. I’ve negotiated with parents in terrible Spanish to be able to give their kids a ride to an LA Galaxy game to thank them for helping us revitalize their school campus. I’ve talked to students about college and shared my own experiences with them. I’ve spent 12 hours getting sunburned while waiting on Home Depot deliveries. I’ve painted murals. I’ve put volunteers and kids in charge of things when they weren’t sure they knew how, and watched them crush it.

The military helped me push myself past the limits I had set for myself at a time when I needed it the most. In the same way that my mentors did, I hope that I can look these next generations in the eye and tell them, genuinely, “you can change the world.”

I serve and will continue to serve for all of them.

 

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.

#HerMission: Women Veterans Joining Forces in San Francisco

May 25, 2017

On May 18th, 50+ women veterans gathered in San Francisco for The Mission Continues’ second annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit. These women have been impressive agents of change in their communities, using our programs to their fullest potential and beyond.

The weekend, focused on professional development, networking and self-care, was packed with panels, workshops, inspirational speakers and even meditation exercises. Of course, we had a service project — because no Mission Continues event is complete without one! Continue reading “#HerMission: Women Veterans Joining Forces in San Francisco”

#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.

The Decision I Made, 15 Years Ago Today

September 11, 2016
By Brandi Peasley

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I vividly remember the day I left active duty. It was October 1999 and I’d completed my 5-year commitment in the United States Army after graduating from West Point. I signed the paperwork to switch to a Reserve commission and assume my placement into the Individual Ready Reserve. At the time, I thought it was odd how much it bothered me to take off the uniform but I was very determined to go find success out in the civilian world.

Continue reading “The Decision I Made, 15 Years Ago Today”