Paying it Forward Through Adopt-A-Family
December 24, 2021
Imagine being pregnant with your first child as a single income household while your husband was deployed. Now imagine it’s the holiday season and on top of the holiday stress, you’re in law school getting ready for the bar exam. That was Ashley Kennedy’s situation in 2017. In fact, she took her law school final and 24 hours later, went into labor!
“My husband was gone for eleven months. At the time I was part of the Family Readiness Group, an Army support organization that helps provide for service members and their families. As a National Guard unit, families do not have a big military where we can go for support and resources. It can be very isolating for National Guard families when our service member is deployed. Oftentimes we do not know who to contact. Part of my duties as a board member was to help families find these resources. As a law student, I was good at research and I learned about Soldiers’ Angels. With my husband deployed, we were a one-income household and our budget was often very tight.”
Not only did Ashley take advantage of Adopt-A-Family, her husband signed up for Deployed Adoptions and as a family they signed up for Baby Brigade to help with baby needs once their bundle of joy was born.
“The day he left for his deployment, I was seven months pregnant and I had been crying all day. I came home and there was a box from a family who adopted us, with a note and baby quilt. It was exactly what I needed at that moment. The Baby Brigade continued to support us for the remainder of my pregnancy,” explains Ashley.
For those who don’t know, Soldiers’ Angels Baby Brigade works as a team to throw “virtual baby showers” for expectant military moms. What that means is that anyone on that team can choose to support the families who are registered by sending gifts. Many times, a family will receive dozens of gifts from strangers – some handmade – to ensure they have all they need to care for their little one.
Through the Adopt-A-Family program, the Kennedy’s found support to get through the holiday season.
“At Christmas, we were adopted by an organization that provided us with gifts for my then two-week old baby and gift card so we could have a holiday meal,” says Ashley.
Her family wasn’t the only one “adopted.” Her husband was also adopted as part of our Deployed Adoptions program. For this program, an Angel commits to sending one care package and one letter to their adopted service members throughout the entire deployment.
“My husband was adopted by someone in Chicago who sent him a care package monthly. For his birthday, they sent him a package full of birthday cakes so he could have that little bit of normalcy. That person adopted him all the way through. One woman even sent her husband a “scent blanket” when he was overseas, which was a tiny quilt that he could sleep with and send home so his infant son would become familiar with his scent. These aren’t typical care packages; they are filled with love and appreciation for the sacrifice that military families make every day both as soldiers abroad and as families who remain at home,” says Ashley.
After graduating law school with honors and working as an attorney in St. Louis for two years, Ashley was offered an amazing position at Polsinelli. During that time, her husband was gone for 6 months of military training – all during a pandemic.
“I’ve been here a little less than two months and I already feel so welcomed and understood. When I was telling Polsinelli about my life so that everyone knew my expectations (mom of two young kids and a husband that is constantly gone for military obligations), they not only offered me the position, but they offered me the flexibility and understanding that is often missing at big law firms.”
It’s true what they say about kindness. It’s quite contagious! Now that Ashley has a career as a lawyer and her family is in a better financial situation, she is ready to give back in the same way that she received support. This holiday, they’ve adopted two families through our Adopt-A-Family program and plan to be involved in other Soldiers’ Angels virtual teams in 2022.
“We’ve adopted two families – one from Wisconsin and the other from Georgia. One of the moms recently emailed me in tears, saying she didn’t know how they were going to do Christmas,” she says. “Beyond adopting two families this holiday season, we give monthly financial contributions, make sure that all of our Amazon Prime Smile purchases go to you, sponsor Soldiers’ Angels for our birthdays, etc. As for programs, after the holiday season winds down, our goal is to then make our non-holiday involvement include Baby Brigade and Deployed Adoptions. We also are always looking for in person volunteer opportunities. This is our first season of truly giving back to Soldiers’ Angels, but one that we will definitely continue to support.”
Supporting military families is important to us because it’s not just the service member who sacrifices, it’s the entire family. It’s just one way to ensure they get what they need so that they can thrive and not merely survive. We are happy to see that the Kennedy’s are thriving and are honored to have played a small role in their lives, supporting their needs.