Kick Off Weekend

Greetings, warriors!

Life has been CRAZY over here in Savannah, Georgia lately. So much has been happening and we have so many of YOU to thank for the love, support, and for being a part of this crazy family! This last weekend, we launched our official kickoff and it was really something special.

This weekend really hit a place deep in me. For the first time, we all physically saw the impact of Fight the War Within on the community through our new programs. I still have days where I cannot believe that this idea has evolved into a reality, one that is only beginning to grow and flourish..  

What started with the loss of an irreplaceable man 2 years ago, rapidly metamorphosed into:

  • the formation of an idea
  • a promo code with Nine Line Apparel
  • the creation of an A-Team of passionate volunteers
  • filing the official paperwork
  • …then more paperwork
  • …..and more paperwork
  • the launch of our very first initiative: care packages for COVID frontline workers

The list goes on and on….and all in just a few short months amid a worldwide epidemic.

This ride has become a roller coaster that we are all still holding on for. The need and evident support for our cause is being heard on our end, but we have been searching for the how. Care packages, some case management, public speaking opportunities, forming an online community….it has all been incredible. But something deep down has kept jabbing at us to FIND THE FOCUS.

As of this last week, we finally heard our call sign. It came in loud and clear. 

Our local area is blessed with some incredible programs and resources that already exist. After having many conversations and meetings in recent weeks, we can now clearly see that the thing missing from the many puzzle pieces around us is the glue to bind it all together. We have repeatedly heard the same thing over and over again from people in our area: “I want to help, but I just don’t know how to.” It turns out that this very question serves as the answer we have been striving to find.

Thank goodness for networking, for good people, and for a hint of direction from fate. Without that, we would probably be lost in the sauce driving each other nuts with our off-the-wall ideas. Through a recent connection made with HGTV’s Military Makeover, Fight the War Within Foundation was introduced to, among many others, Lou Koon, of Armed Forces Mission

With this newest partnership, several Fight the War Within Foundation leaders will soon be certified as instructors in the Look, Listen, Lead cirriculum which focuses on rapid intervention in suicide prevention.

This training can be used for continuing education credits for police officers and for mental health providers in the state of Georgia. We hope to further connect to our area’s active duty military, spouses, churches, veteran groups, and school systems to give others the confidence to ask the hardest question of all. 

To be the “glue”, launching a kick-off weekend was a great way to bring in all of the incredible people who are joining this family. 

On Friday evening, we organized a dinner at The Local on 17, which is owned by Army Ranger combat veteran, Jay, and his wife, Mattie. Thank you both for creating a delicious menu, awesome service, and a perfect space for our event!

Two sponsorships made this possible.

New to the Fight the War Within Foundation family, David Smyth and Lilia Barrera of Pinehurst, North Carolina, have been jumping in and are making waves with our team. After recently assisting a homeless veteran and his family through financial and mentorship support, we were amazed that this power couple wanted to support us further! David, an Army Special Forces Veteran, and Lilia, serving active duty in the Army, both feel connected to veterans and mental health support. We are blessed to have you both onboard, and are immensely appreciative for your support. We are so excited to bring you into our family and along this journey of connecting our communities to combat the stigma of mental health for people of all walks.

The second sponsorship is one that y’all are familiar with, if you follow us. Chip and Catrina Griewahn of Fly Corps Aviation are an energetic couple who have become a core part of our organization. Linking up through our mutual connection to Nine Line Apparel, Amber and I met them for lunch one day. As we discussed our beginning steps in becoming a non-profit with them, to our surprise, Catrina handed her phone to me mid-sentence. She had already filed for our IRS EIN number. Literally. From that point on, we knew that Fly Corps, and the family behind it, meant business in growing our newborn programs. Specifically, Catrina has begun heading our newest initiative: Teen Adventures. Through this program, teens who are battling internal wars are welcome to come hang out with other teens in the area. Meanwhile, their parents meet and unite through peer support. We are so excited to grow this program, as we plan the next adventure in August!

The Marquez Family, who were recently recipients of a home makeover with HGTV’s Military Makeover with Montel Williams, were the guests of honor at this dinner. The family of five made a weekend trip to explore and enjoy Savannah. We hope to link them up to the community to provide a platform to talk about the reality of mental wars in our service members. This dinner followed a tour of Nine Line Apparel and a shopping spree in their store. Thank y’all for the love, Team Nine Line!

Several other groups, including Heels-n-Halligans, Matt Rogie of the podcast “Thriving on Mission”, 22 Sierra Coffee Company, the FTWWF Team, and several other supporters, came out to share their stories of mental health battles. Thank you all for the strength and support that you continue to show! 

Saturday morning started out with our monthly 9am-11am “Wild Walking” at the JF Gregory park in Richmond Hill, Georgia. Our newest partners, 22 Sierra Coffee Company (Joe Kidwell and Patrick Little), made the trip from North Carolina and Missouri to be a part of the festivities. Their launch of the coffee “Garrett’s Blend” directly benefits us here with the foundation, but the love doesn’t stop there. Joe and Patrick sponsored our Wild Walking for this month, and we couldn’t be more excited to have them on board. John Ring of Buddy Watch Walk even showed up for the 3-mile endeavor. Although the distance may not have compared to his recent 8-month cross-country walk that supported suicide awareness for veterans, his presence solidified that one team is needed for this fight. We look forward to walking with him again!

Saturday evening concluded with our first ever Teen Adventure. Teenagers battling internal wars came out to enjoy themselves at Fun Zone in Pooler, Georgia. As parents met to provide peer support, the teens ran wild and enjoyed making new friends in a fun-filled environment. This was fully sponsored by Fly Corps and Fight the War Within Foundation. Keep your eyes out for our August Teen Adventure!

Then, on Sunday, Fly Corps came through AGAIN – providing Introductory Flight Lessons for the Marquez children!

All in all, this train is moving full speed ahead. With our 501(c)(3) designation in hand, we are ready to arm ourselves with the necessary knowledge to better serve and connect our community and resources to one another. To further connect with Fight the War Within Foundation, sign up for our newsletter, shoot us an email, send a Facebook message, or come to one of our many upcoming events!

Fight on, warriors. 

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