For Julie Weymouth, an act of generosity turned into a nonprofit business plan.
In 2012, she learned that many military families struggle to make Christmas a joyful time. “I called upon my friends and family and together we purchased enough Christmas gifts to fill the back of a pick-up truck,” she recalls. She and her husband drove to a nearby Air Force base and distributed gifts to spouses of deployed service members who reported to that base.
The success of that first project inspired Weymouth to do more for the military community. She incorporated Homeland Heroes in 2013 and partnered with several military bases in her area. She rented a storage unit to collect donations of gently used furniture and household items. Weymouth quickly found herself serving on-base clients and also working with counselors from the Easter Seals and Veterans Affairs staff
The Homeland Heroes Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity that assists active duty military, veterans and their families in times of need.
To learn more about Homeland Heroes, visit homelandheroesfoundation.org.
“Our mentor, Dianne Connolly has been a great asset to us,” Weymouth says. “She has assisted with our bylaws, given advice about how to properly select board members, [and] suggested several great ideas on how to raise revenue.”
Connolly also assisted the Homeland Heroes Foundation team by attending several board meetings to evaluate whether the meetings were conducted efficiently and followed Robert's Rules of Order.
“In September of 2014 we opened a 2000-square-foot donation center that is filled with furniture and household necessities that we donate to soldiers in need several times per week,” Weymouth reports.
More than 300 military families and counting have received Christmas toys and winter clothes; and more than 20 military couples have received all-expenses paid marriage retreat weekend trips, including counseling services to help heal the hidden wounds of war.
Next, Weymouth hopes to expand her organization’s services across the United States.
“We are extraordinarily proud of our accomplishments and have worked very hard to get where we are today, but yet somehow it doesn’t seem like we have worked at all,” Weymouth says.
“She has given solid advice and helped us move forward. She has generously given of her time and expertise,” Weymouth says of her SCORE mentor, Dianne Connolly. “Her extensive knowledge of nonprofits has become an invaluable asset to us.”