ICommunity Connection Services & MD Chapter Gold Star Mothers
Thanksgiving Baskets Distribution
Kingdom Celebration Center
November 21, 2020
Maryland Chapter Gold Star Moms were invited by the ICommunity Connection Services (ICCS) organization with CEO Gloria D. Dent, to participate in their special “Thanksgiving Baskets” distribution to Veterans and Gold Star Families. Janice Chance, Paula Davis and Donna Robinson volunteered at the distribution and represented the MD Chapter. The Veterans and GS Families were very appreciative to receive the Baskets.
Special Thanks to Mrs. Gloria Dent for inviting MD Chapter Gold Star Moms to participate in the ICOMMUNITY CONNECTION SERVICES Thanksgiving Basket Give Away. We are also grateful for her continued unwavering support of Gold Star families, veterans, active duty service members, and the community.
Operation Gratitude & MD Chapter Gold Star Mothers
Veterans Day Gift Distribution
MCVET Homeless Shelter
November 11, 2020
Maryland Chapter moms were invited by the Operation Gratitude (OG) organization CEO, Lt. Col Kevin Schmiegel (Ret) and COO, Col Paul Cucinotta (Ret) USMC Veterans to participate in their special “Veterans Day” Gift distribution to the Heroes at the Maryland Center For Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) Homeless Shelter. Gloria Crothers, Donna Robinson and Janice Chance represented the MD Chapter. Marissa Anne Cucinotta, Paul’s daughter was also part of the team. The men and women were very appreciative that we visited them, to thank them for their service and to give gifts on Veterans day. This is the day that our nation celebrates Veterans for their service and sacrifice. Although it was raining outside it did not stop the delivery as the sun was shining in our hearts!! It had been several months that the moms were not able to visit the residents due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Masks and social distancing were required, but we were thankful to be able to enjoy a brief visit with our Heroes! It was a memorable event and the OG team and moms are looking forward to the next visit.
Gold Star Mothers & Families Weekend
September 25-27, 2020
The American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. National Executive Board invited all members to participate in special events organized for Gold Star Mothers and Family Weekend. The Events were on Friday 9/25, Saturday 9/26 and Sunday 9/27. Maryland Chapter moms Kelly Swanson and her husband Gary, Janice Chance and her husband Charlton, Theresa Karlson and her husband Bill, and Paula Davis participated in one or more of the events. Because of the pandemic, everyone was social distancing and wearing masks. The events began on Friday with a Meet & Greet Open House at National Headquarters. On Saturday there were three events; a Suicide Awareness Walk that began at the Lincoln Memorial and ended at the Vietnam Memorial, followed by a drive to Arlington National Cemetery section 60 for a time of reflection. The last event of the day was the Annual Banquet which was held at Patton Hall located on Joint Base Fort Myer. US Army General James McConville was the Keynote Speaker, and several other distinguished guests were in attendance. During the program, Mr. Glen Patrick, President and CEO of the American Gold Star Manor in Long Beach, California gave a wonderful talk on the Manor and invited everyone to visit. The ceremony ended by swearing in the National Board members for 2020-2021. On Sunday, September 27th, Gold Star Mothers and Family’s Day, President Cindy Tatum, accompanied by her husband, Andy, and their service dogs Linus and Millie, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Commemoration Ceremony was held on the lawn adjacent to the Amphitheater. After a warm welcome from Cindy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley gave remarks. The Keynote Speaker was General David Berger, Commandant, USMC and he gave a wonderful and heartfelt message. Also, in attendance to support the moms were several other distinguished guests, supporters from several veteran service organizations, veterans, family and friends. After the ceremony, a reception was held at Patton Hall located at Fort Myers.
LIVING LEGACY FOREST TRIBUTE
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND
SEPTEMBER 20, 2020
On September 20, 2020, the Maryland Gold Star Mothers were invited to attend the Living Legacy Forest Tribute and the Memorial Marker Presentation of USMC Corporal Dale Alan Burger, Jr. Because of the COVID pandemic, only 40 attendees were permitted to be on site, which included President Kelly Swanson and husband Gary, and Chaplain Janice Chance and husband Charlton, and Martina Burger and her husband Marty. There was a wonderful live stream, where other Gold Star Families could watch the ceremony. It was wonderful to watch Major Antwon Glenn-Tracy “GT” and Ritsa Karakanas complete their 5k. GT ran from APGs Fallen Star Memorial to the Living Legacy Forest, while Ritsa ran her 5k on her treadmill. Opening remarks were made by Major General Mitchell L. Kilgo, Senior Commander, APG Commanding General Communications-Electronics Command. The guest speaker was Maryland Gold Star Mothers’ President, Kelly Swanson. Following, was the Memorial Marker Presentation in honor and memory of USMC Corporal Dale Alan Burger, Jr. At the closing of the ceremony, Kelly, Janice, and Martina were presented with beautiful baskets of goodies.
Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day – 2020
Each year, on the last Sunday in September, Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day is observed. On this day we honor the mothers, fathers and families of fallen Armed Forces personnel. Historically this day is also known as National Gold Star Mothers’ Day. It serves as a reminder of the losses suffered by many military families.
Since World War I, the observance of Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day has provided a way to honor and recognize those family members who have lost a son or daughter in service to the United States Armed Forces. A gold star symbolizes a family member who died in the line of duty while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Gold Star Mothers want everyone to know that service members die in different ways, every day. Many Americans think military personnel only die in wars. Although combat deaths represent the ultimate sacrifice, we are all familiar with service members who die on other military operations: during training exercises, because of equipment failure and accidents, or by suicide. The numbers are astounding. According to the United States Department of Defense, since 9/11 more service members have died in non-combat circumstances; more than double of those who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It is wrong to dismiss the loss of service members in non-hostile circumstances. All made the commitment to serve for the freedoms granted in our country.
Keep this in mind, when you see a Gold Star License Plate or a lapel pin, ask about that military member. Ask in what capacity did he or she serve. Ask about their family, their passions, their hobbies, their decision to join the United States Armed Forces. The Gold Star Family Member will appreciate your actions more than you will ever know. Also consider this, Gold Star Mothers and Families are keeping their service member’s memory alive through their work in the community, their stories and pictures. Remember, “Freedom is NOT FREE!”
Several gold star observances and events are held leading up to Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day. However, this year, many of the events were cancelled, postponed or presented on a virtual platform due to the spread of the Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 which was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization. Recently some of the restrictions have been modified to permit gatherings with a limited number of participants and requirements of participants to adhere to the guidelines of wearing masks, social distancing and practicing good hand washing techniques.
I was granted the pleasure of participating in a Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day Butterfly Release event. An event was held on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument located in Annapolis, MD. It was organized by Mrs. Janice Chance, Chaplain of the Gold Star Mothers Maryland Chapter, with the assistance of Mrs. Patricia Jackson, MS Regional Navy Gold Star Coordinator and me, Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator, Fort George G. Meade. There were five Gold Star Mothers in attendance and three Gold Star Family Members, along with Mr. Bob Saunders with Warrior Events. We released butterflies in honor of many of the heroes in our area, and for fellow Gold Star Mothers that were unable to attend. Some of those mothers requested that a butterfly be released in honor of their loved one.
A Butterfly Release Event has been sponsored by the Fort George G. Meade, Survivor Outreach Services Program for the past five years. Though the onset of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 changed many scheduled events this year – hopefully in September of 2021 we will resume our regularly scheduled event. In the meantime, let’s honor and remember those who “gave all.”
Although we are in the midst of a pandemic the Gold Star Mothers Maryland Chapter has not allowed the pandemic to stop them from serving and supporting their heroes from afar. They have been participating in community events throughout the Capital Regional Area and are scheduled to participate in other Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day events this month. Please visit their website: www.marylandgoldstarmoms.com and their Facebook page, Maryland Gold Star Moms to see pictures and read narratives about their events.
Article written by Mrs. Voncile C. Farmer, Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator, Fort George G. Meade, MD.
911 Memorial Ride
Darlington Volunteer Fire Station
September 5, 2020
Chuck Ritz, Founder of The Hope & Peace Foundation did not disappoint as he continued his Annual 911 Memorial ride. The ride, which was established 9 years ago, was a way to Honor and Remember the 2,977 lives lost on September 11, 2001 along with the 162 Marylanders who paid the ultimate sacrifice in OIF and OEF. This year’s ride was extremely eventful with over 400 bikers and passengers which included the Maryland Gold Star Mothers, Gloria Crothers, Debbie Potocki, Geraldine Pepper, Robyn Anderson, Donna Robinson, Rosemarie Ceo, Janice Chance and Yvonne Green. They truly enjoyed the wind blowing through their helmets as they rolled down the countryside. Each year the ride gets bigger and bigger and plans to commemorate the 20 year Anniversary (2021) of 911 are in the works.
Warrior Events Dinner
August 20, 2020
COVID-19 could not stop our friends at Warrior Events from organizing and inviting Maryland Gold Star Mothers to their annual dinner-cruise event. Moms and their guests were treated to a wonderful, delicious meal provided by Ken’s Creative Kitchen as well as the beautiful waterfront pavilion at Mears Marina. Even though we were not able to cruise around the Annapolis harbor, we enjoyed spending time with fellow Gold Star Moms and talking to the event sponsors. We always enjoy this special event hosted by Warrior Events and continuing our fellowship with a wonderful military service organization! Many thanks to Bob Saunders and John O’Leary. We would also like to thank the staff at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel for their overnight accommodations and warm welcome to our group and we thank Mr. Michael Greene, USMC Veteran who provided Limousine transport to Mears Marina and back to the hotel.
9th Annual 9/11 Path and Field of Honor Event
September 4, 2020
Gold Star families were invited by Chuck Ritz, Founder of the Hope and Peace Foundation to participate in his foundation’s 9th Annual 9/11 Path and Field of Honor Event. This year will be the 19th Anniversary of 9/11 where 2,977 citizens were killed or died while attempting to rescue people that were trapped in the twin towers in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. After the attacks, the United States declared war on terror which sadly has resulted in many of our brave men and women making the ultimate sacrifice. The Annual Path and Field of Honor event was held in Northeast Baltimore County along Putty Hill Road. Janice Chance represented the Gold Star Mothers Maryland Chapter along with Gold Star Mothers Robyn Anderson and Geraldine Pepper who joined Chuck, and approximately 20 other Patriots which included several fire fighters from the Fullerton Fire Station.
2,977 Flags were placed along Putty Hill Road to represent our fellow Americans that were killed during the 9/11 attacks. Flags were also placed on a hill located in the Putty Hill shopping center named “The Hill of Honor” in honor of the 162 Maryland military service members (HEROES) who made the ultimate sacrifice since the start of the “War on Terror”. The moms and other participants considered it an Honor to participate in this special event of remembrance. The moms are grateful to Chuck and many other patriots for their efforts and commitment to do all that they are able to remind U.S citizens to NEVER FORGET. TO HONOR & REMEMBER our Fallen Heroes and their families. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE! The saying is true WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE!
Women in Defense
Mid Atlantic Chapter 2020 Scholarship Presentation Program
August 8, 2020
The Gold Star Mothers Maryland Chapter were invited to participate in a drive by graduation celebration and the Women In Defense (WID) MidAtlantic Chapter’s 2020 Scholarship Presentation program for Sandrea Nyivih. She is a graduate of Harford Technical High School located in Bel Air, MD. Janice Chance and Donna Robinson represented the MD Chapter. The program was held in the driveway of the Nyivih’s family home. Fortunately, the coronavirus restrictions did not adversely affect the program. Sharon Mackey, President of WID welcomed the guests and Kim Stevenson, WID Scholarship Director introduced Sandrea. Andre Johnson, Harford County Councilman, Sally Edler, Retired Mechanical Engineer WID Committee member and Janice were given the honor to give words of wisdom to Sandrea. Mr. Johnson also presented Sandrea with a Harford County Council Citation for her accomplishments. Mrs. Deanna Ohwevwo presented Sandrea with her award letter for the Women In Defense (WID) Mid-Atlantic Chapter Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education $2,500 Scholarship! Sandrea was accepted into the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Scholars Program for Women in Technology. She will start in the fall of this year with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics. Her focus will be on Cyber Security. Sandrea also received several other gifts from the WID members. Janice and Donna presented Sandrea with flowers, balloons, a card and a monetary gift on behalf of the MD Chapter. After the presentations, Sandrea gave a heart-warming thank you message. We offered open arm air hugs since we were not allowed to give a real hug. After the ceremony while talking with the guests, David Clark, the photographer, shared that he served in Vietnam. Janice and Donna thanked him for his service, rendered a mom’s hand salute and presented him with our MD Chapter’s 50th Anniversary Commemoration Vietnam Challenge Coin. Mr. Clark expressed his appreciation and offered his photography services to the Chapter. It was a pleasant surprise when Mr. Clark’s sister, Sally shared that he graciously volunteered his services for the event. Sandrea’s mother, Michelle Nyivih and her sisters also expressed their appreciation to all the guests for coming out to attend the program. Mrs. Nyivih was very hospitable as she made special efforts to ensure that guests were hydrated and comfortable due to the hot weather. It was a memorable event. Sandrea is definitely a “Shining Star”.
Maryland Gold Star Mothers & Friends Making Masks
Even though our organization and other service organizations were not able to participate in events that were cancelled due to COVID-19, a few Moms decided to put their sewing machines to use and donate their time by making masks for the VA Medical Centers in Baltimore, Loch Raven and Perry Point. Susan Kern, Volunteer Services Program Manager, reached out to Janice Chance and requested that we make masks for their Veterans. The Maryland Gold Star Mothers officers voted on purchasing fabric and elastic to make the masks. Toni Coffland (40 masks), Joyce Fontenot (100 masks), and Theresa Karlson (150 masks) were the moms that were available to volunteer to make the masks for our heroes. Special thanks to Mrs. April Lewis (50 masks) and Mrs. Verginia Edwards (130 masks), Colonial Baptist Church Friends of Janice Chance who donated their service to make masks on behalf of the MD Chapter for our heroes.
The moms are overjoyed that they were able to provide masks for our beloved Veterans. It was another opportunity to serve and support the heroes from afar.
Flag Retirement Ceremony
American Legion Post 156
Ellicott City, Maryland
July 18, 2020
On Saturday, July 18, 2020, American Legion Adams Hanna Moore Memorial Post 156 in Ellicott City, Maryland held its quarterly Flag retirement ceremony at the VFW Post 7472 in Ellicott City, Maryland. Gold Star Mothers Kelly Swanson, Janice Chance, and Penny and Manny Flecker attended. Also, in attendance were members of VFW Post 2245. Because of COVID-19, we did social distancing and wore our masks! Prior to the ceremony, the moms and Manny were honored to be able to assist in preparing the flags for the dignified disposal. The ceremony began with the National Anthem, after which, our very own Chaplain, Janice said the opening prayer. One of the highlights of the day, was meeting Colonel Lou Scott. Colonel Scott is a United States Marine Corps Veteran. He commanded a rifle platoon at the Battle of Peleliu and a rifle company at the battle of Okinawa. Colonel Scott will be celebrating his 100th Birthday on August 9, 2020. We also gave challenge coins to the Vietnam Veterans in attendance. The Gold Star families were honored to have their child’s names read at the Honor Roll Call. It is very nice to know that our Heroes are being remembered in such a beautiful ceremony.
June 26, 2020
Email Received from Michael Farlow, APG’s SOS Coordinator announcing our new President…
I am sharing with you the link to the article announcing the new President of the MD Gold Star Mothers. We look forward to working with Kelly and the team. A huge shout out to Janice for her 6 consecutive years as President and a job well done. Thank you also for the positive comments about the APG SOS program. I hope that you all have a great weekend and as always if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.
Nurse’s Appreciation Week VA Medical Health Care Center Baltimore, Maryland May 29, 2020
On May 8, 2020 Gold Star Mothers Maryland Chapter demonstrated their appreciation and gratitude to the VA Medical Center nursing staff in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care units during National Nurses Appreciation week by treating them to a Mission BBQ box lunch. The MD Chapter members are committed to serving and supporting our heroes and the staff that continually deliver exceptional care to the veterans (our heroes). On May 29th, the MD Chapter also treated the nursing staff on the other units 3A/3B, 5B and 6A to a Mission BBQ box lunch. The lunches were once again delivered by Mission BBQ in their Deuce and a Half Mission Mobile “BAM BAM”.
Special thanks to the Voluntary Service Staff of the Baltimore VA Medical Center that assisted with the coordination of the lunch delivery. We would also like to thank Nicole Manning of Mission BBQ Catering located at the Towson, Maryland location for their help in preparing the food and delivering a total of 86 box lunches! It was reported that the staff were elated and expressed their appreciation. Seeing pictures of the nursing staff holding signs with a variety of THANK YOU Messages brought to life the adage, “ A picture is worth a thousand words.”
The Maryland Chapter’s mission will continue to support and appreciate the nursing staff throughout the year. Our mission extends beyond serving and supporting our Nation’s Heroes, including those who provide care to them and in supporting our communities.
American Legion Post 276
11th Annual Maryland Marathon Bluegrass Jam
Fisher House Foundation Fundraiser
February 22, 2020
Gold Star Mothers and family members were invited by Amy Kriner, Leidos Volunteer coordinator and Mr. Neil Hamrick, Chairman of the Annual Fundraiser Marathon Bluegrass Jam to volunteer once again at this musical event. Maryland Gold Star Mother Janice Chance, and Gold Star family members Peatoria Purdue and LT Meshondra T. Collins U.S Navy, Perioperative Nurse Corps Officer represented the MD Chapter. They partnered with Team Leidos employees, and many other volunteers. Mrs. Amy Kriner served as the team leader. The Maryland Marathon Jam committee invites local bands to participate in 12 hours of non-stop bluegrass music. Since 2009, the recipient of this annual fundraiser has been the Fisher House Foundation, which is best known for building comfort homes where military and veteran’s families can stay free of charge, while a loved is in the hospital receiving medical treatment. This charity was chosen because of their excellent rating and for the services and support that they provide to our heroes and their families. Janice, Peatoria and Meshondra assisted with selling raffle tickets for musical instruments and working the money gift prize wheel table. It was a wonderful time of service, fellowship, good food, and great music. Meshondra was delighted to meet a fellow Navy veteran who spent time talking and taking pictures with her. It was a joy to see the smiles on the faces and hear the laughter of the attendees, especially the children when they won a toy during the money wheel game. In addition to serving as volunteers, the MD Chapter also donated $500 to the Fisher House Fundraiser. Janice, Peatoria and Meshondra considered it a blessing to be able to participate in the event that provided them with another opportunity to meet and thank many veterans, their family’s and other patriots. They also received thanks and many hugs for their volunteer service. This was another wonderful event for Gold Star Moms and their families to continue to “HONOR THROUGH SERVICE”.
National Salute to Veterans Week Third Visit
VA Loch Raven Medical Center
February 14, 2020
Maryland Chapter Moms Rosemarie Ceo and Janice Chance were joined by members of the Marine Corps League Baltimore Detachment: Earl Ruff, Marian James and Ray Vaughn during their third visit to hospitalized veterans at the VA Loch Raven Medical Center. During the visit the moms distributed toiletry gift bags that were imprinted with the American Gold Star Mothers Logo and a “Thank you for your service” message. They also received a large bottle of Dove body wash. The Marine Corp league members distributed 17 afghans that were made by Marian to veterans that had not received an afghan during their past visit, however; all of the veterans received a handwritten Happy Valentines Day note card and a $5.00 canteen coupon book that can be used to purchase food and/or other items at the VA center. The Moms and the Marine Corps members rendered a hand salute as a team to every veteran during the visit that resulted in a smile and they responded by also rendering a hand salute. A few of the Heroes shared pleasant memories about their military service and several family members were present who expressed their appreciation. One family member was so appreciative of the group’s visit that she requested permission to take a picture of the Moms and the Marines. The healthcare staff and other employees were also thanked for the service that they provide to our Heroes. Many of the veterans and staff shared that the visit was extra special because it was Valentines Day. The Moms and Marines are looking forward to visiting and supporting our heroes again as a team whenever possible. It was another memorable visit for the Moms and Marines.
National Salute to Veterans Week Second Visit
VA Perry Point Medical Center
Perry Point, Maryland
February 11, 2020
Gold Star Moms Gloria Crothers, Synthia Carter and Janice Chance visited heroes on February 11th at the Perry Point VA Medical Center. Although it was raining, it did not stop the Moms who were determined to bring joy and sunshine to the hospitalized veterans. During their visit, they distributed gifts, expressed thanks and rendered the traditional “Moms Hand Salute” that resulted in the heroes smiling and they responded with expressing their thanks and also rendered a hand salute. They received a customized gift bag with the American Gold Star Mothers logo and a thank you message filled with toiletry items. They also received a large bottle of Dove body wash and a Valentine’s Day greeting card that was made by children at local schools. The staff also expressed their appreciation. It was another rewarding experience for the moms who enjoy serving and supporting our heroes and their families.
Salute to Veterans Preparation of Toiletry Gift Bags American Legion Post #60 Laurel, Maryland February 1, 2020
Maryland Gold Star Mothers Mary Jane Walton, Synthia Carter, Deirdre McMahon, Gloria Crothers, Gina Barnhurst, Theresa Karlson and Janice Chance worked together to prepare 280 toiletry gift bags that will be distributed to our Heroes at all three of the Maryland VA Medical Centers for National Salute to Veterans Week. The Moms packed goodies such as small stuffed Valentine bears, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm and deodorant into the bags. The heroes will also be receiving a bottle of Dove Body wash along with their gift bag. The body wash was ordered and delivered to each VA Medical Center ahead of time to eliminate the need to transport the heavy boxes. Many thanks to Commander Lee Luby for allowing the MD Chapter Moms to once again to use their hall to prepare these special packages for our Heroes. The Moms are looking forward to visiting and saluting our local Veterans at Baltimore, Loch Raven and Perry Point VA medical centers during the week, February 9-14th.