Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Legacy of Hero Remembered by Team Hope For The Warriors® Member

After many months of training and fundraising, Team Hope For The Warriors® member, Nick Iacono, raised around $5,000 in honor of Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis in the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. Nick alone was able to fundraise five times the required amount and went above and beyond to help Hope For The Warriors® in their mission of restoring self, family, and hope for all military families.

Nick met Michael’s family through his work in the office of his hometown Staten Island congressman, a Marine combat veteran himself. In 2013, Nick had the privilege to welcome the Ollis family, including Michael’s father Bob, mother Linda, and sisters Kim and Kelly, to the congressman’s office in Washington, D.C., where he gave them a tour of the Capitol. Inspired by Michael’s story, Nick was determined to contribute to the efforts to preserve Michael's memory and heroic sacrifice.

Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis of Staten Island, NY, served with valor and honor through his time in Afghanistan. On August 28, 2013, Michael sacrificed his own life and saved a Polish service member, Karol Cierpica, from a suicide attack. A year later, the Cierpica family announced they were expecting a baby boy and planned to name their son after Michael Ollis. Michael’s parents were able to go to Poland to visit with the Cierpicas and meet with Polish dignitaries, including the president, prime minister, and military leaders. In January of 2015, Michael Cierpica was born and will carry on the legacy of Michael Ollis.

Knowing Michael’s story and being an involved member of the Staten Island community, Nick desired to continue his memory. “Michael truly embodies, to me and to so many Staten Islanders, the very definition of a hometown hero, and even more than that, an American hero,” said Nick. “I think that his astounding bravery and sacrifice for our freedom—which is also borne by his family—deserves recognition and remembrance. So, the decision to dedicate my run to him and his memory was an easy one.”

Nick became hooked on distance running after a friend encouraged him to train and run in the Staten Island Half in October 2014. The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half was his second half and he plans to do more distance races both in New York and Washington, D.C.

Nick ran a successful NYC Half on Team Hope For The Warriors®, and said, “I cannot express how grateful I am to Hope For The Warriors® for giving me an opportunity to honor Michael's memory while at the same time supporting our country's best and bravest.”

Hope For The Warriors® stands with Nick in honoring Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis and his family, and would like to thank Nick for his amazing contribution and dedication to military families.

On April 26, 2015 Hope For The Warriors® presented Nick with a certificate for his fundraising efforts  at a V.F.W. event honoring Michael Ollis. 

Nick (holding frame) with Robert Ollis (Blue shirt), Michael's father 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cultivating New Friendships: Caregiver Edition

A Few Of My Military Wife Sidekicks & I
One of the caregivers in our Caregiver Facebook Group brought up a subject that she had a hard time making friends. She was thinking she was alone in this department - but - I know for a fact, just about every caregiver I know has had a very hard time at one time or another making new friends, and even keeping old friends post injury.
There was a time where I too struggled with making friends, and to be honest, still do sometimes! Women in general have this issue, but throw in helping to take care of a combat wounded veteran and things can get hairy! 
I've learned its SO important to be 100% honest to people I meet when making friends. I explain our way of life, in every detail I think possible - and then, when asked questions - instead of shutting them out or being mad at them for not understanding... I just go with the flow and answer questions the best I can. 
1. I closed myself off to new friends after my husband was wounded, and because my husband had extra circumstances that he was dealing with that were hard for me to deal with. 
2. I didn't allow myself time to make new friends - I made the world revolve around my husband because I was afraid if I didn't - something would go horribly wrong when I wasn't around.... and then after a while, it was an easy cop out. I was in my own pity party and I didn't know how to get out of it. 
3. I made excuses not to try to make new friends because I was afraid they wouldn't understand, or quite frankly - it took too much time to explain everything to new people. I felt like I didn't have time for that. I felt too overwhelmed with everything to even begin to share our story, BUT - if I had, it would have been easier... leading in to number 4....
4. I felt like I had to explain war injuries to new friends, but instead of just doing it and getting it out there, I would shut down and walk away because I couldn't deal with reality that our lives changed quite yet.
5. I wasn't very forgiving of other people. Our lives were different, I would get different reactions from people, including new friends. They didn't understand everything, but I expected them to even if they weren't walking in the same pair of shoes. That's not quite fair to others. 
Truth is, I had to make some heavy duty personal changes within myself (which I am still a work in progress and still working on this). In my case, it wasn't just my husband who was injured in war... when he was deployed, I was hurting too. I was going to funerals. I was explaining to the kids that they shouldn't watch the news, or listen to rumors other people talked about (my husbands unit was hit very hard in Iraq). I was hurt. I was struggling. I needed healing too; yet, when my husband came home wounded - I shifted all of my focus on him instead of working on my healing or taking time to enjoy friends, taking time to enjoy every day because I knew how precious and limited life could be. Let's face it, I don't even know if I had time when he was first seeking medical care to even begin to know where to find help for myself.
Thats why I stress how important it is to put our oxygen masks on first... so we can help others - including our veteran. In my case, I would think to myself I needed friends; but didn't realize at first that I was the one standing in the way of my own happiness.  heart emotico
My Best Friend Since 7th Grade, and Gold Star Wife:
Katie & I

Hope For The Warriors offers free counseling, if you are at all interested and at all wanting to get better; there IS hope, there IS healing. There IS life after war and there IS a good life waiting.

Much Love,
Patti Katter

Friday, April 17, 2015

Team Hope For The Warriors Newsletter: April

Team Hope For The Warriors® at MCCS Cherry Point Half 

Team Hope For The Warriors® Members,

In honor of Memorial Day, for the entire month of May, Hope For The Warriors® invites you to participate in the Virtual Run For The Warriors® to honor and remember our service members. The Virtual Run For The Warriors® raises both funds and awareness for Hope For The Warriors® and the needs of our military families. It can be completed at any location, pace, distance, with a group or as an individual, and is a great way to inspire one of your training runs.

Register at www.hopeforthewarriors.org/2015VirtualRun. You can create your own team or participate as an individual. Once you register you will receive a race packet with a Run For The Warriors® T-shirt, dog tag, and a customizable bib to show people who you are running to honor.

The captain of the team that raises the most funds by May 31, with a minimum of $500 raised, will win his or her choice of 2015 Marine Corps Marathon bib, 2015 Marine Corps Marathon 10K bib, or 2015 Army Ten-Miler bib.

2015 Team Races:

Team Hope For The Warriors® registration is rolling for many popular fall events! Our bibs for the Marine Corps Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon 10K, Army Ten-Miler, and TCS NYC Marathon are going fast. If you, or anyone you know is interested in competing in these events on Team Hope For The Warriors® register quickly as we have limited bibs for each race.

Below are the confirmed dates and races for 2015

May 17, 2015 – Marine Corps Historic Half*

October 11, 2015 – Army Ten Miler*

October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon 10K

October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon*

November 1, 2015 – TCS NYC Marathon

*Handcycle friendly race

Fundraising Tip:

Tag “Hope For The Warriors” in your Facebook posts and @Hope4Warriors in your tweets about your fundraising or running. This enables your supporters to learn about Hope For The Warriors®, understand the work the organization conducts, and connects them to our social media pages. Connecting your supporters to Hope For The Warriors®, not only increases awareness of the organization, but it is also a way for your supporters to see the work that Hope For The Warriors® is doing.

Training Tip: Goals

Without real tangible goals training, especially for endurance events, can become monotonous or feel purposeless. Goals help you stay motivated and provide direction and focus for training. Whether you have been competing for years, have found a new passion for endurance sports, have a goal of winning events, or want to improve your health, having a goal is important. New York Yankee great, Yogi Berra, states it best, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

How to set goals:
A great tool to use in the process of setting goals is a SMART goal. These goals help you focus on what you want to accomplish and make you think about how you will achieve the goal.
          SMART goals are:
Specific: Outline what you truly want to do.
Measurable: Include markers to track your progress.
Attainable: Challenge yourself yet be realistic in your expectations.
Relevant: Make sure it is something you are dedicated to.
Time-bound: Set a time in which you want to accomplish the goal.  

Try to set a couple of athletic goals this spring to motivate yourself in your training. Also, remember you have the support of the entire Team Hope For The Warriors® beside you cheering you on as you achieve all of your goals!   

Team Member Corner:

Team Hope For The Warriors® member, Nick Iacono, became hooked on distance running after a friend encouraged him to train and run in the Staten Island Half in October 2014. This March, Nick ran in 2015 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon with the Team. He raised around $5,000 in honor of fallen service member, Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis, who sacrificed his own life to save a Polish service member from a suicide attack. Inspired by Michael’s heroic life, Nick alone was able to fundraise five times the required amount and went above and beyond to help Hope For The Warriors® in their mission of restoring self, family, and hope for all military families. Nick plans to do more distance races both in New York and Washington, D.C. In late April, look for a story on Hope For The Warriors® blog about Nick and his participation in the 2015 NYC Marathon.

Program Information:

Team Gear:
There are new items coming soon to the online store, including a sleeveless Team jersey! As a member of our Team, you can save 10% on all online store items. As you train, be sure to proudly wear the Hope For The Warriors® logo so that people know the reason for your hard work. Visit www.hopeforthewarriors.org/store and use the discount code TEAMH4W.

Charity Navigator:
For the fourth year in a row, Hope For The Warriors® has received a four-star rating on Charity Navigator. This exceptional rating, achieved by only 8% of the nonprofits they evaluate, highlights Hope For The Warriors® financial responsibility to the service members, military families, and families of the fallen we support. Team members can continue to ask people to donate towards fundraising goals with confidence! We invite you to view their latest evaluation of our efforts on the Charity Navigator website.

A Warrior’s Wish®:
This year, Hope For The Warriors® will grant 11 wishes to support service members, veterans, and military families. The nature of these Wishes will vary in scope from business, fitness, financial, and outdoor-related. The enrichment process will continue long after the Wish is granted to promote stability within the lives of these heroes and their families. As the Wishes are granted we will share the stories in the upcoming newsletters. Learn more about A Warriors Wish®

Jack Rabbit Relationship:
Exciting news for all of our Team Members in the New York City area. Team Hope For The Warriors® has partnered up with Jack Rabbit for GROUP RUNS! These runs will take place at one of Jack Rabbit’s locations (Union Square, Upper West, Upper East, or Brooklyn). In addition, Jack Rabbit is offering the Team clinics, such as nutrition and gear. For more information please contact Steve Barto at sbarto@hopeforthewarriors.org.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Series:
The Rock ‘n’ Roll race series has teamed up with everydayhero as their official fundraising platform. You can now run in any Rock ‘n’ Roll event and raise funds for Hope For The Warriors! Beginning March 1st, every race participant will be asked if they want to fundraise on behalf of their favorite cause during the race registration process. When you register and are asked to choose your charity, pick Hope For The Warriors® and you will automatically be given a Rock ‘n’ Roll everydayhero fundraising page!  

USA Track & Field (USATF):
Hope For The Warriors® is now a USATF Organization and if you are also a USATF member you can now run for Hope For The Warriors® as an organization! Furthermore, you can compete in the USATF championships. For more information please contact Steve Barto at sbarto@hopeforthewarriors.org.

Run For The Warriors®:
Registration is now open for the following Run For The Warriors® events:
  • 10th Annual Jacksonville Run For The Warriors® Register
  • Inaugural Memorial Day Run For The Warriors® Register 
  • 6th Annual Big Apple Run For The Warriors® Register
  • 4th Annual New Bern Run For The Warriors® Register

For the complete list of races visit www.runforthewarriors.org, check back frequently for more registration pages coming soon.

Representing the Team:

Be sure to shoot us an email with your race schedule and where you will be wearing your Team jersey. Each time you wear your jersey, you help our mission to restore self, family, and hope. Feel free to share photos and special stories too!


Important Links For Social Media:

Twitter When you tweet be sure to use #TeamH4W

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Women Leading the Way in Orange County

Written by Sarah Duerr

In 2013, Elizabeth Bernay and Kara Noone, Financial Advisors at Morgan Stanley in Irvine, California, founded “Women Leading the Way in Orange County” (WLWOC). WLWOC is a highly selective group of well established professional women, representing a cross section of industries, who share their career insights and give guidance to the female leaders of tomorrow. 

WLWOC continues to expand, and in 2015 will join Hope for the Warriors® and Vanguard University to work with military-connected women who are transitioning from active duty to civilian careers.  

The inaugural program I attended included twenty outstanding professional women, representing twenty industries, sharing their career insights and advice with young women navigating their education choices and embarking on their professional journeys. The day started with a panel discussion on networking tips from four women with various backgrounds:
  • Dr. Sandra Morgan, Director of the Global Center for Women and Justice, Vanguard University
  • Amy Christiansen, Principal Investigator, AIG
  • Scharrell Talley Jackson, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Squar Milner
  • Carmen Kaiser-Hofsaess, Catering Director, Summit House Restaurant
The panel spoke on how to begin the networking process, addressed the issues of transitioning, and how to get over the fear of entering a networking event alone. The panel was also very attentive to answering questions from the audience. The next presentation was on professional image. Speaker Sarah Noone, professional stylist, gave attendants tips and tricks to styling, saving money on quality pieces, interviewing suggestions.

Military to Civilian Transition speaker John Lutkenhouse, from Lucas Group, gave resume advice, as well as tips for job searching, securing the interview and interesting transition points to think about when getting out of the military (i.e. your employer will no longer pay for your housing, benefits, and sometimes, your leave time).

There were two amazing breakout sessions and answered any and all concerns the women had about transitioning, finding their “dream job”, and starting their own businesses.  The day wrapped up with speaker, Rhonda Sciortino, author of Succeed Because of What You’ve Been Through. She spoke about the skill set that females possess coming out of the military, specifically the resiliency, toughness, and drive to succeed that all employers are seeking. Her “18 points” drove home her point of how much these amazing women had to offer.

After an incredibly successful first half of the program, I am looking forward to continued success in the years to follow. We all received such positive feedback from our female service members and veterans, specifically one who said, “This was literally the best veteran program I have EVER been a part of!” We are excited to see what the next sections inspire in our females who have served! 

WLWOC will consist of three sections: two half day events on March 12 and May 14, 2015 (the first to be held at the Morgan Stanley office in Irvine) and a series of Open Houses to be hosted by the WLWOC professionals at their places of employment. The half day events will include key note speakers, break-out sessions and interactive exercises. The content will focus on networking confidence, career development tools, and building professional relationships. The Open Houses will provide military women on-sight exposure to local WLWOC employers and introductions to others within those businesses.