Shepherd's Pasture - Jefferson, TX, 75657

UWS Receives Grant to Sponsor Retreats for

Military Families

5/20/2007

Sacrifice by the public at large has been severely wanting in support of military men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. In fact, it has been loved ones who have generated much of the support. But gradually, institutions are stepping up, including the California Community Foundation, which has given $5 million to each of three Texas foundations: the Dallas Foundation, the Permian Basin Area Foundation and the San Antonio Area Foundation. The Los Angeles-based group awarded the money through its Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund. The money goes to groups that provide services to active and former military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. "Thousands of North Texas men and women are fighting every day in Iraq and Afghanistan and find themselves and their families stretched thin emotionally, physically and financially," said Mary Jalonick, Dallas Foundation president. " We hope we will help alleviate some of that burden by working with the other two Texas foundations to develop a joint Web site and a standardized grant application form." The Dallas Foundation has created a special fund to distribute grants to nonprofit organizations across the region over the next two years.

It's channeling money through existing groups such as United We Serve, led by executive director Romey Kilgore. The covered region includes Dallas-Fort Worth, Texarkana, Wichita Falls and other areas in North and East Texas. It also includes Killeen and Fort Hood. The Permian and San Antonio foundations will distribute grants to help service personnel in their regions. "While learning about the needs of military families and the services available to them, we found there was no central directory of military and civilian organizations that help families of deployed or returning troops," Ms. Jalonick said. "There was even less information available about the needs of National Guard and reservist troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and any groups that help them."
To fill this gap, the Texas foundations are conducting a survey of all National Guard and reservists who have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Dallas Foundation also created a special advisory committee of business, civic and military leaders who will review and award the grants to nonprofit organizations through a competitive application process.

The first grants were:

  • $639,000 to Communities in Schools, Bell-Coryell Counties Inc. to expand services to 1,800 eligible children at schools surrounding Fort Hood.
  • $250,000 to United We Serve to support Battle Buddy Reintegration Retreats.
  • $200,000 to the Texas National Guard Family Support Foundation to support the emergency assistance program.
  • $195,500 to the Department of Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation to extend its Wounded Warrior Emergency Assistance program.

"There are more needs among the military community than we will ever be able to completely fund, but the first round of grants from the Dallas Foundation's special fund is an excellent start," said John Ware, chairman of the advisory committee, called the Triad Fund Advisory Committee. "Many servicemen and women and their families will be able to adjust a little bit better because of our help, and that is extremely gratifying." United We Serve received $250,000 from the Dallas Foundation's first grant cycle of more than $1.2 million. "United We Serve has supported over 30,000 service members deployed or in stateside schools and training, many through multiple deployments," said Ms. Kilgore, who is also the group's founder. "We adopt them as our own and provide caring support throughout their deployments and times of need." A crown jewel of United We Serve's program is Shepherd's Pasture, a 23-acre retreat center in the Piney Woods of East Texas for service members, families and veterans, Ms. Kilgore said.

"Special program retreats are offered at no charge to the military. Areas of focus include programs for our troops returning from deployment, families during deployment and our wounded warriors. "Accommodations are also available for rest and relaxation for individuals and families." Two retreat programs are being expanded: the Battle Buddy three-day retreat, which pairs wounded veterans with a veteran with similar injuries who's further down the road to recovery and can help negotiate the Veterans Affairs system, and three-day family reintegration retreats for service members and their families.

Plano-based United We Serve has shipped 50 tons of customized support to the military units it has adopted, including 21,000 neck-cooling wraps, modified sweat pants and shirts for wounded troops, and books, movies and magazines. "We believe there is no greater gift we can give our service members than the gift of peace of mind of knowing that their families are taken care of with such things as household goods, clothing, groceries and financial assistance and housing to many service members in crisis situations," Ms. Kilgore said. "Through a network of other nonprofits, churches and ministries and our veteran service organizations, UWS acts as a networking caseworker for families in need on a daily basis."

Many families have financial, emotional and physical hurdles to overcome. Common requests are for household goods, clothing, food and other necessities. Ms. Kilgore started United We Serve when her daughter joined the military 12 years ago. Her daughter and son-in-law are now based together in Virginia, while their son, now 9, lives here with his grandparents.
Ms. Kilgore said the group needs volunteers and cash donations. Call her at 972-398-2327, e-mail info@unitedweservemil.org or visit the Web site at www.unitedweservemil.org.

Shepherd's Pasture
5645 US Hwy 59 South
Jefferson, TX, 75657
Call: (903) 665-2647

Info

Shepherd's Pasture Retreat & Conference Center

Shepherd's Pasture is a Christian Retreat and Conference Center set on 24 beautiful acres of whispering piny woods, streams, trails and pasture land in East Texas.