Legacy of Valor educates a region

Legacy of Valor educates a region

Posted on May 08, 2014 by Erika Kelly

In 2012, I decided to branch away from the traditional corporate life to become an independent consultant, searching for opportunities to focus on professional projects that would leave a positive, lasting imprint on the world. Being a part of the Legacy of Valor (LoV) team for The Patterson Foundation has certainly exceeded these goals for me.

Throughout the yearlong Legacy of Valor campaign honoring veterans and their families, I was able to personally witness the positive, lasting imprint it left on so many lives, including my own.

Educating about Value of National Cemeteries

The initial impact of Legacy of Valor was the widespread communication within the community --- sharing information about Sarasota's national cemetery -- one of 131 across the country. Conversations at our initial outreach events were often focused on informing community members, as well as visitors, about Sarasota National Cemetery and The Patterson Foundation's plans to design, build and donate Patriot Plaza, a first-ever 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater. I remember a recurring response of, “Wow, I did not know we had a national cemetery, but I’ll definitely take a drive out there to go see it now that I know it’s there!”

As Legacy of Valor events ramped up throughout the year, those conversations rapidly transitioned into people saying, “I heard about this recently.” Soon the majority of the conversations evolved into, “Yes, I’ve driven out to the cemetery because we recently heard about Legacy of Valor and Patriot Plaza. What a beautiful cemetery.”

Sharing Stories, Uniting a Community

While rumblings of this great venue grew, my discussions with the public at Legacy of Valor events quickly turned into moments of sharing.  Veterans themselves, their family members, friends or co-workers all clamored for an outlet to tell their story. With more than 100,000 veterans and their families living and working in Southwest Florida, it seemed as though almost everyone I engaged with had a veteran connection and was appreciative to share. This drove home the need for and benefits of the Legacy of Valor campaign along with Patriot Plaza’s ability to provide a focal point for honoring veterans for generations to come.

Some of those stories involved triumphs while others shared struggles. All involved a heartfelt appreciation of what Legacy of Valor, Patriot Plaza, and The Patterson Foundation were doing for the veteran community. Sometimes the conversations I had led to an introduction to a Legacy of Valor partner, service, or organization that might be of assistance to them or the veteran they shared about, other times they were a mere exchange of memories.

Legacy of Valor created a platform to unite the community so they could rally behind our veterans. The campaign initiated the conversation among community members and organizations on how they could better serve those who served our country in a collaborative, community effort. More than 100 local organizations were brought together through LoV.  These organizations combined their time, talents and treasures to create a lasting synergistic variety of resources for the veteran community. Those relationships not only impacted the community in 2013 but also have blossomed into lasting partnerships that will continue to benefit veterans for years to come.

On a personal level, Legacy of Valor enabled me to interact with such an array of community members – each one connected to a veteran in a unique way. So many have trusted me with their personal stories, sharing their journeys or those of family members or friends  - each one inspiring me with sincerity, dedication & devotion to embrace and honor veterans.  I am so appreciative to live in a community and be a part of a movement that reminds me that there is humanity and compassion in the world.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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