As a mom of 16 children, I often find myself in need of examples. Advice. Hope. And real help.
In 2015, our family was facing some serious challenges and I was searching for someone who had been through rougher seas and fared well. I met a Gold Star mom whose son had just died 4 years previously and she had a smile that was genuine, a heart full of hope and a fight left in her that told me anything was possible.
I began to wonder, what would happen if I merged a community of Gold Star mothers together with a group of civilian moms? Over the course of several weeks, a few dear friends and I planned a dinner and we invited 35 civilian moms and 9 Gold Star Mothers. The night was beset with beautiful tables full of flowers and flags, personalized framed photos of their sons, and precious boxes full of letters from grateful Americans and school children along with a special bracelet emblazoned with the word BELIEVE in script.
What followed was powerful. Gold Star Mothers were served an amazing meal and a hefty dose of love. Young moms asking them about their boys, seeking advice about parenting, looking for hope and inspiration from these mothers who had suffered the worst loss life can hand you and survived. Gold Star Mothers were smiling and joyful to talk about their sons and remember when they were young and mischievous, give advice on how to handle these kiddos who can be such a handful, and be loved on and hugged on and treated with such honor.
I didn’t know it then, but we had stumbled upon a force that would be capable of helping thousands of Gold Star families. That first humble dinner has become a landmark day in the history of our organization as we have since incorporated as a non-profit organization and expanded our programs to include Christmas and Homes for Gold Star families, provided cars and monetary assistance when needed. One simple dinner, one mom looking for hope…has become an army of volunteers and grateful Americans seeking to help thousands of widows, children, and parents of fallen soldiers.