TMC and BWF Show the Power of Community and Service - Bob Woodruff Foundation

TMC and BWF Show the Power of Community and Service

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A strong bond with a community can provide a sense of relatedness, support, and the feeling of being part of something greater than any one individual. Unfortunately, COVID-19 prevented many of us from being able to engage in our communities directly. While it is by no means perfect out there, thankfully, some events can be held safely again.

The Mission Continues (TMC) is a Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) grantee through our partnership with the NFL and our Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community grant program. TMC knows that effecting meaningful change requires its members to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to help their communities. Completing military service does not mean the drive to serve simply fades away. TMC positions veteran volunteers to work alongside nonprofit partners and community leaders to improve educational resources, address food insecurity, and to help foster neighborhood identity.

At a recent event in South Los Angeles, military veterans and volunteers got to work on a Saturday morning and helped refurbish the portions of the Wanda A. Mikes Early Education Center. The event was a part of TMC’s nationwide effort to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.

Although 9/11 represents one of the worst tragedies in U.S. history, Americans did come together in the aftermath of the attacks. BWF and TMC have been focused on regaining some of the cohesiveness and camaraderie found in our communities 20 years ago. For many of our service members and veterans, the 9/11 attacks served as a catalyst that launched their military careers.

“We’re here to celebrate the 20 years of service that have taken place since that day and to then think about what the next 20 years could be if we could all capture that spirit of service and be inspired by it,” Mary Beth Bruggeman, president of the Mission Continues said.

BWF’s Sam Holmes and Sean Ansted traveled to South Los Angeles to pitch in. For Holmes, getting back out into communities after a long hiatus due to COVID-19 was exactly what he needed—especially after the recent events in Afghanistan.

“Being out on the road and connecting with veterans and our grantees like TMC is what I live most about my job.”

“Being out on the road and connecting with veterans and our grantees like TMC is what I love most about my job,” Holmes explained. “I think we need face-to-face interactions to bring a human side of the foundation to everything we do.”

Ansted also believes community events are precisely what veterans need right now.

“I got the sense that it was very therapeutic for the veterans who were there,” Ansted said. “This Mission Continues project was a very good and much-needed distraction. 9/11 shaped a lot of our lives and it definitely shaped my route career-wise. That day had a very significant impact on my life overall.”

At the education center, both veterans and volunteers constructed elevated garden beds, painted storage containers, and built benches for the center’s outdoor areas. While these acts may not seem monumental on their own, they are helping the community rally around a valuable local institution and are also providing beautiful spaces for children to learn.  But the veterans present were also building something less tangible, but perhaps equally as important. After veterans leave the military, many seek new outlets to channel their sense of service.

“While many of us are no longer in our youth to be boots on the front lines, serving at home can be just as impactful to help our neighbors and communities that need it the most,” Ansted added.