A Needed Homefront Celebration for Military Spouses
By Lisa Collins-Haynes
Informer Media Group
Over two hundred military spouses from the Metro D.C. and Prince William area were invited to the Crystal City Marriott at Regan National Airport to attend a Homefront Celebration. The D.C. Metro Chapter of Operation Homefront (OPH) and BlackBerry hosted the event. The Celebrations are a special night out to acknowledge the commitment and sacrifices made by military spouses. They are treated to a short break and some much needed rest and relaxation. The event provides participants with inspirational speakers, entertainment, food, and special treats to lift their morale, let them know they are appreciated, and provide them with an avenue to make new friends.
At just over three months of its inception, the OPH and BlackBerry partnership was a natural fit due to the support both organizations offer to service members and their families. BlackBerry has been a long time partner with the Department of Defense, by providing technology and communication solutions to members of the armed forces. The Celebration kicked off with a rendition of the National Anthem by Miss Maryland Teen USA, Hanna Brewer. Hannah is an avid supporter of the military. She helps organizations such as Operation Welcome Home Maryland, Operation Homefront, Team Red, White, and Blue, The USO, and Honor Flights. She has planned a princess tea party for the spring of 2013 for little girls who have families in the military. Hannah is also in the process of starting her own non-profit (501C3) which will be called, “Hannah’s Heroes”, to benefit our military and their families (www.missmarylandusa.com).
Speakers included Scott Totzke, Senior Vice President for Blackberry Security. Totzke is responsible for maintaining a consistently high standard for the security of BlackBerry products and services, and helping to shape BlackBerry’s regulatory compliance, lawful access and privacy strategies on a global scale. His organization includes enterprise product management and strategy, security product life cycle management, operations and government sales as stated in his bio. He spoke on the value of keeping communication secure and how this relationship has benefited the military over the years.
Dr. Tyrone Taborn delivered the keynote address. He is the publisher, chairman and CEO of Career Communications Group, which is a minority-owned media service company, that connects top technology talent to employers that have the potential to fulfill their career goals. Over more than a quarter of a century, CCG has built strong, lasting partnerships with America’s top companies, government agencies, and educational institutions through its magazines, the Internet, and conferences that promote achievements of minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Taborn’s message didn’t leave a dry eye in the room. He simply read a creative writing piece found online by Ashleigh Baker entitled, “This is To You, the Military Wife” found at ashleighbaker.net. It rang true on so many different levels and gave a colorfully vivid depiction of what nearly every military spouse goes through at some point and time. A real tear-jerker.
The Celebration’s theme was Connecting Home, highlighting the importance of the military member to maintain the link with family while serving their country at home and abroad. Additionally, BlackBerry chose to be a sponsor for the dinner, “To say thank you and because we value the sacrifice that is made by the military spouse”, says Wes Montee, BlackBerry Manager for Market Development, Government and Education.
Each military spouse was given a nifty, durable tote bag filled to the brim with practical and donated items from small businesses and members of the community. Many spouses could be overheard chatting about how nice and useful the gifts and bags were. It was clear that this gesture was greatly appreciated. As the evening came to a close, Totzke returned to the podium for what he said felt like his “Oprah moment” and announced that each spouse in attendance would be receiving a brand new BlackBerry Z10 mobile phone. The room erupted with cheers and screams of excitement. Danielle Hopper wrote on OPH’s website “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!! Operation Homefront and BlackBerry gave us one of the most memorable evenings we’ve had in a long time. There were so many amazing spouses and some amazing companies. Jennett Robinson-Cline and I were both honored to attend and blessed with the love and support we were given.” This sentiment was clearly felt by everyone attending, including me—a military spouse of seventeen years and once a recipient of OPH services.
About Operation Homefront: A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has met more than 750,000 needs of military families since its inception in 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally 95 percent of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.
About BlackBerry: A global leader in wireless innovation, BlackBerry® revolutionized the mobile industry when it was introduced in 1999. Today, BlackBerry aims to inspire the success of our millions of customers around the world by continuously pushing the boundaries of mobile experiences. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, BlackBerry operates offices in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. BlackBerry is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (NASDAQ: BBRY) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: BB). For more information, visit www.blackberry.com<http://www.blackberry.com/.
Lisa Collins-Haynes is married and the mother of one daughter. She is currently working as a Freelance Travel Journalist and has had several articles published. Lisa is a self-professed out of control travel spirit (O.C.T.S) and she invites everyone to follow her new travel blog at www.octsblogger.wordpress.com.