As I reflect on the events leading up to the Dress Up To Stock The Pantry kickoff fundraiser, I am extremely grateful and pleased with how it all turned out. I never could have imagined how much work goes into planning such a momentous occasion. Countless hours spent pouring my heart and soul into this endeavor pales in comparison to the joy elicited as a result of those who see the mission as meaningful and purpose-driven. My heart is full and I am certain that the vision I first saw for this nonprofit will extend far beyond what I thought was possible for Cook For Vets. From its inception, actually believing I could pull off the Dress Up To Stock The Pantry kickoff fundraiser, I manifested up forward-moving thinkers coming together at a beautiful venue, which reflected the sentiment of the evening. The River Farm will certainly be my ideal choice as we hold our annual Gala Event raising money to support this incredible cause. Our evening was in great hands, with Mission BBQ’s staff and elaborate menu, as well as the wine and spirits from Honor Brewing Company and Woodlawn Press Winery.
The Raffle Drawing and generous haul of donated canned goods and nonperishable items from our attendees to begin stocking the Cook For Vets Food Pantry capped off the evening perfectly. Our guest speakers, Dr. Gordon Sumner of Veterans Moving Forward and Sgt. Rober Bauer of Warriors Heart USA, shared powerful insights regarding military life and service, in addition and the challenges that occur as a result. It is their knowledge and wisdom that drive me to deeper levels of commitment and determination so the goals and impact we wish to achieve come to fruition. The night was one I will not forget anytime soon. This experience will certainly lay the foundation for Cook For Vets’ mission to grow and flourish. For the better part of the past three years, I have networked and followed the thread which gladly culminated in gathering together individuals, who in their own way, serve the greater good and are visionaries in their own right. To be honest, for several weeks prior to kickoff, I kept saying I should cancel the fundraiser due to limited attendance. I felt torn that I would not be able to draw enough attention in raising awareness of Veterans who are struggling with food insecurity. Someone once, casually mentioned to me that while the mission is huge, it is me that draws individuals to this cause. I humbly responded in a modest tone, if this is what I need to do to progress my mission, passion, and purpose, then I will continue to shout it from the rooftops and take the action steps to bring light to a very sensitive topic. Since the fundraiser, opportunities for networking and sharing what we want to accomplish has been forthcoming, often and continuously. I will unwaveringly be the voice for those who are most worthy and deserving of the attention even if it means making a difference even in just one Veteran’s life. From merely one, more and more will hear what we at Cook For Vets want to accomplish so we will be known as a resource and support system not just here in Virginia, but nationwide.