Sunday, June 04, 2006

Farewell to a Dedicated Volunteer

Military life is filled with change. Anyone who is even remotely associated with the Armed Forces understands this. Relocation, reassignment, detachment, reattachment, deploy, redeploy, all words associated with leaving. As with all things military, at Operation Kid Comfort we have our share of farewells. We miss our dear friends and volunteers, and wish them all well in their new surroundings.

Now we say goodbye to Jennifer Hale. If you have seen an Operation Kid Comfort quilt or pillow constructed over the last year and a half, then there is a good chance you have seen Jennifer's work. A dedicated volunteer, Jennifer came to us as an experienced quilter, but wanted to learn the process of photo-transfer, the method we use to print images on fabric.

Some of us were able to gather for a farewell luncheon to say goodbye to Jennifer at Belmont Village. From left to right, back row: Katie and Kim Newton, Peg Mikol, Melanie Spangler, and Deborah Hall. Front row: Ann Flaherty, Jennifer Hale and Lynne Grates.

While it will be hard to replace Jennifer at Operation Kid Comfort, I know it is not impossible. Below are some questions I posed to Jennifer, and her thoughts on why Operation Kid Comfort and volunteering are so important. After reading her comments, I think you will be inspired to follow in Jennifer's footsteps. If you are interested in volunteering for or contributing to any aspect of Operation Kid Comfort, please email or call 910-436-0500.

Please join us in wishing Jennifer and her family well, as they move on to new adventures. You can leave your comments here and I will be happy to forward them on to Jennifer.

Why do you volunteer at Operation Kid Comfort?
When I moved back to Fayetteville, my husband went remote to Kuwait and my last two children went off to college. I had extra time on my hands. I actually went to the FSC at Pope to see where I might be able to volunteer in the area. When I heard about Operation Kid Comfort I knew that was the place for me.

I love to make quilts, especially to give away. I had been involved at the FSC at Hurlburt Field, FL making lap quilts to give to children in the local hospice grief program. When I heard about OpKid, it was a perfect fit. After raising 3 daughters in the military lifestyle, what could be closer to my heart than those children who experience the same separations from their parent/parents that my girls did (and still do.)

What do you find as the most rewarding aspect of the tasks you perform for Operation Kid Comfort?
When I started volunteering, the first thing I learned to do was to scan, crop, edit, and print the pictures. Being computer illiterate, I thought I was going to be more trouble than help to the group. But I picked it up rather quickly (the repetition helped me a lot.)

The need was so great in that one area that I was glad to remain on task. The best part is that I get to see and study these precious pictures. We have some amazing photos come through Operation Kid Comfort and I am the first to see them up close. It really touches your heart to see these children with their parent and to know that not only is the parent making a huge sacrifice for this country, but so is this young child. These quilts are one way not only encourage the child, but thank him or her for their service to our country.

Why do you feel Operation Kid Comfort has been a success at Fort Bragg?
First, I truly believe that God has blessed the selfless dedication these people have to making quilt and pillows for the children of our military. Second, the constant deployment cycle gives us many opportunities to touch the lives of not only the children, but their parents as well. To let them know that there is someone else out there that understands how difficult the separation can be and how important it is to maintain the long distance relationship between the child and the deployed parent. And lastly, we have some very generous supporters, outside the military community, who donate many of our supplies including fabric, thread, and ink (just to name a few.) Without their help, this project would be difficult to maintain for any great length of time.