Our Team’s 2021 Favorite Moments
December 30, 2021
What are our favorite moments of 2021? We entered into 2021 with a lot of hope that things would go back to “normal” and that our programs could continue on without interruption. While we didn’t exactly go back to normal, we are happy to report that our programs regained momentum, exceeding our goals AND that we were able to add some special programs to support communities/veterans desperately in need. Overall, we’re proud of the level of support we gave to service members, veterans, military families, and Afghanistan refugees who served alongside our military during the war. In addition to that support, we also dealt with a lot of loss among our Angels and staff.
With all that has happened this year, we asked our employees to share their favorite moments. Here’s what they had to say.
Rich Scott, Program Administrator
“A couple months prior to my arrival at Soldiers’ Angels, I heard a co-worker say about me, “He’s a good guy; he just never smiles.” After I started working here, my wife would ask me how my day was, and I couldn’t bring myself to say the “g” word (“good”). I’d say anything but “good” and my wife would laugh and groan (knowing that I had a good day) and tell me to “Just Say It!” As I approach the 90-day mark here, it still feels weird smiling at work and telling my wife I had a good day. But, it happens all the time now. I like my job. I respect my co-workers and leadership. I love the mission here. That’s my favorite memory. Soldiers’ Angels changed how I felt about going to work. And that makes an impact all the way around.”
Vicki Sarracino, Regional Director
“I think my favorite moment of 2021 would be seeing the veterans home that Soldiers’ Angels volunteers helped repair. It was a beautiful story for a beautiful man.”
Michelle Julazadeh Chavarin, Director of Marketing and Communications
“I am SO torn this year on a favorite moment!! We always have a ton of memorable moments to reflect on— but this year, those moments just seemed even more inspiring. SO… I’m going to share two. The first was when I had the honor of interviewing Alfred Guerra during the home renovation project. As soon as you meet Alfred, you can tell how incredible this man is. He radiates this kind and compassionate spirit that you just don’t meet very often. Interviewing him for our video was incredibly touching. Seeing the emotion when I asked the question (video clip at 2:16) “How excited are you going to be to go back into your home?” was a moment I will never forget. It was one of those moments you can step back and see what we are doing is making an impact, what we are doing is important.
Moment two was a very similar experience — but on the opposite end of the spectrum—and all because a call was mistakenly transferred to me instead of our Deployed Support Team! PFC Houston, who was and still is deployed, contacted our office to let us know about his incredible Angel. As soon as I heard him talk, I knew I wanted to capture his words on video so all of our Angels could hear the impact they were making. So, we arranged to start a recorded video call with him about an hour later. Clearly, it was my lucky day, because in the short time between our phone call and video call, I managed to reach out to the Angel he was talking about and get her in on a surprise! She was on the call in the waiting room and then surprised him midway through the call! It was the first time they had “met” virtually and it was so touching to hear and see how deep their connection was! Yet another moment where it was easy to see how important our work is!”
Jacquelyn Smith, Regional Director, Field Operations
“My favorite moment of 2021 at Soldiers’ Angels was when a coworker shared with the SA staff that he had proposed to his girlfriend at Lake Tahoe. To see the joy in his eyes and the happiness from finding someone he loved was so enlightening. Sharing the photos and the proposal with us was priceless. It was such a blessing to witness such a wonderful moment with a person you respect and appreciate working with. This moment was filled with joy, love, and smiles by the entire staff. So happy to have been a part of this special moment.”
Vicky Akers, Director of Finance and Administrative Services
“A favorite moment of 2021 is hard to come by. 2021 has been a very hard year in many respects. It was a year of losing love ones, living in fear, insurmountable insecurities of the future, and creating the ‘new normal.’ However, out of all of the bad shone the light of good. It brought people together. The loss created bonds that now can withstand the hardest of times. It forged a family that was, at the start of this year, just co-workers. We might have had a bag full of hard knocks but my favorite “memory” would be of that of learning the heart of my co-workers (family) and seeing them pull together in a time when weaker hearts would not survive. Soldiers’ Angels is made up of angels in many shapes and forms, with many personalities and ideas. But our heart for this place and for the people we serve and work with beat as one. That is the memory I will forge into my brain as I say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022.”
Chris Chun, VP of Programs
“If I had to pick one it would be when I was at the Atlanta Mobile Food Distribution last month and was doing the live broadcast with MJ and the Atlanta United. The short video interview I had with the veteran after they received their food was priceless and reminded me of all of the great things we do for our service members, veterans, caregivers, and their families.”
So there you have it! Just a few moments of joy from the Soldiers’ Angels family in 2021. Stay tuned! We’ll be tallying up some actual numbers as we close out the year and are so excited to share the total impact we had on veterans, service members, military families, and refugees this year.