On September 21st, 2021, I traveled to the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico Marine Base. Tacy Foundation Youth had made 400+ thank you cards for service members in three weeks. They produced beautiful cards! Always, I am intrigued by the response of those whom we ask permission to receive and distribute gifts. I am curious how the person who picks up the phone to answer my request for delivery of cards or any of our gifts responds. There are some people who have an extraordinary gift of “welcome!” No matter how busy they are, how challenged by stress, how hopeless they may feel in their service jobs, they respond with “We would love to receive your children’s music…..cards…..messages……..drawings… Your volunteers’ support will mean so much to a soldier far away from home, a senior who cannot remember who she has been, a patient who is in great pain, a parent whose child is very sick, a family that has lost a loved one, or spouse who has lost a life partner from COVID.”
There are very gifted people among us in our community who carry in their hearts the gift of “welcome” and “inclusion” no matter how small or large the gift. To welcome a child’s gift with open arms and say “thank you” is the act of planting a seed of hope. Validating that child’s worth among us changes the trajectory of his/her life. Appreciation and recognition nurture the seeds in the garden of hope. The harvest season is what we see now in the teens and young adults who bless us with their presence, their creativity, passion, and compassion for the world.
For example, because the Foundation’s first experience of giving very humble music CDs to Johns Hopkins Cancer Center was so very much welcomed and appreciated, we grew the courage and stamina to continue. (See the Tacy Foundation Story)
A Master Sergeant at Joint Base Andrew Air Force enthusiastically offered to meet me “anywhere” (he said) to receive kids’ thank you cards to take back to his soldiers and their families. On September 20th, he met me at the Visitor Center with warmth and gratitude. He told me of the 1200 families on the base and how much he cared about them. He accepted the cards with joy and expressed hope for more. He also accepted recorded music for his families. Whatever we could offer, he gratefully and graciously accepted. For the holidays, he would welcome the music, cards, and anything that shows his troops and their families that we appreciate them for volunteering to serve this country.
The next day, a volunteer at Quantico Marine Base gingerly met with me to receive thank you cards from Tacy Foundation youth. She assured me that these were so very valuable. They would be given out the very next day at an honor ceremony for 1600 marines on the base. I was very touched by her welcome and warmth and so very honored to bring our kids’ beautiful messages of appreciation for service. I asked the volunteer (a retired Air Force officer) how we could help going forward. She said, “Just do this……bring cards, messages of hope and thanks. That will mean so much to the soldiers stationed far away from home to protect and defend us. They are helping 3500 refugees right now.”
Volunteers, don’t forget that you truly matter! Your voices are heard in your live music; your video music on the playlist; your virtual preparation for Piano Pals®, Guitar Pals®, Composer's® Circle (soon to have your own video playlist); Reading Express® videos and stories in Title 1 schools; and thousands of cards for people facing challenges. A Master Sergeant at Andrews and a Support Director for Marines have provided evidence that your thoughts, cards, and messages embolden even the strongest to be courageous, compassionate, and inspired by your hope.
The Cards Projects are now under the leadership of Karina Willis-Lara, Adult Supervisor, and Chief Interns Mario Lara and Riona Sheikh (in Maryland) and Matthew Kim (in Virginia). These Chief Interns or Team Leaders are organizing cards projects this year, carrying on the initial “cards” initiative of Amber Briscoe. They are super-organized and ready to lead by example, as you see in the photos below of cards for the military and their families. Autumn card projects for seniors and hospitals have begun. Contact them through email at email@example.com. They will be thrilled to hear from you and facilitate drop-offs of your cards.