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Uniting Through Philanthropy

The past year has been tumultuous for our Nation.  The cohesive bond of our great country has been fractured in many ways, and emotions and relationships remain contentious.  Our Country was built on the principles of independence and opportunity.  We are truly blessed to live in this great Country, a perspective that is often lost in the negativity of the 24-hour news cycle and constant trolling in social media.  As the country begins to heal, I believe that everyone ultimately would benefit by setting aside differences and moving forward as a single United nation, embracing the freedoms and unalienable rights that are the foundation of this country.

An area of great pride for me is integrateIT’s focus on philanthropy.  No matter the differences that any of our teammates have, philanthropy is a core value that brings us all together. I am always proud to see our team come together to donate resources- be it time or money- to advocate for causes close to our hearts.  While each member of our team brings a unique perspective of advocacy with passion for a variety of charities, a common area of interest has always been the support of our military and their families.  On a personal front, I have great affinity and appreciation for our service members.  Many of my closest friends and loved ones have served our country; my father retired after 20 plus years as a Naval officer.  When I was younger, I spent several months being treated as an inpatient at Walter Reed medical center.  I saw firsthand how the military treats all members of its family- soldiers or their relatives- as one family.

A year ago I was introduced to the Dockery family, as their son played sports with my oldest son Jake.  The Dockery’s are a model family with outstanding core values.  I was attracted to their positive demeanor, core family values, and passion for philanthropy.  In conversation with Emma, I learned that her family founded the Yellow Ribbons United charitable organization, which supports military families who have been impacted by the loss of a family member who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedoms.  I was immediately intrigued by the organization, and I began to research their efforts.  A staple event for Yellow Ribbons United is their annual Winter Wonderland event which honors our Tiny Heroes- the children of service members who died in combat.  It was an event that Geoff and I immediately wanted to be a part of.

It is impossible put yourselves in the shoes of a child who no longer has their mother or father by their side.  A child cannot comprehend the “why” of what happened to their parent; all they truly can wrap their hands around is the deep feeling of loss.  It is a feeling that never leaves them, and a gap that they endure on a daily basis.  The Winter Wonderland event, even for just one night, provides these children and their families the opportunity to escape into a world of fantasy and entertainment- to be shown the love and appreciation that we all have for them.

Words or pictures cannot capture just how amazing the Winter Wonderland event was. The children were treated to so many wonderful memories, from witnessing a magic show, to a variety of arts and crafts stations, to video games, ball pits, and candy stations. Each child received presents from major corporations such as Build a Bear and North Face. In a touching moment, the mothers and grandmothers of the children received a well-deserved present donated from Kendra Scott jewelers. Without sounding cliché, I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much.  It was incredible seeing so many disparate groups- congressmen, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, military leaders, and volunteers- banding together to support our military families.

I cannot express how proud I am that our integrateIT team banded together to participate in such an incredible experience.  I was touched by the unity and cohesion in the room.  I was proud to bring my son Jake to the event so that he could witness the community come together as one.  I cannot wait to support Yellow Ribbons United in their future endeavors.  I encourage you all to visit their website at www.yellowribbonsunited.org to learn more about their outstanding organization.  And most importantly, I hope that we all can find a cause, whatever that may be, to donate our resources to. We are all so blessed to live in the Country, to be part of this community.  Taking the time to reflect upon this and help others certainly puts things into perspective.

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