Michael’s Foundation is proud to announce that one of the Veterans who has utilized our free benefit guidance program is now qualified for 100% disability from the VA, but that’s not all! In addition, he’s also received “permanent and total” (P&T) rating, and the VA can never revoke the status.  This Veteran will now qualify to receive free property taxes, dental and vision coverage, hunting and fishing licenses, free tags for his vehicle,  free healthcare coverage for his family members, a discharge of nearly $30K in student loans, and free college for all of his children and his wife!  All benefits well deserved by this individual veteran who is truly a great warrior, and made possible by our partnership with Alan Alford’s “Fighting For Our Heroes Foundation”.  Alan was able to work with this veteran over the last several months since having a chance meeting at FROZ-N7 ice cream shop in St. Cloud, Florida. This veteran and Alan immediately became friends and Alan began guiding him toward the finish line. This Veteran in his mid 30’s, moved to Florida from California and has set down roots in Osceola County with his family. He served in the Marine Corps for over 10 years! We would like to celebrate this WIN for this particular Veteran and thank Alan Alford for his dedication to this case.
Michael’s Foundation held our first annual Cowboy Christmas Party at the Farm in Clermont, FL, and it was a huge success.  The laid back vibes, the full bellies, the joyous children, and the serenity that surrounded the farm was proof that a wonderful time was had by all Veterans and their families in attendance.  Our foundation’s Veteran Benefit Guidance partner, Alan Alford, shared some words of gratitude from his point of view about the gathering:
 
“…The entire day you could feel the energy out there of kids laughing and people genuinely bonding. I saw veterans that hadn’t even met before becoming friends before my eyes, their kids playing together, and their mothers exchanging numbers. It was so pure. Think about the world that we live in today, finding a true friend, an unforced laugh, someone that doesn’t have an ulterior motive, and someone that you can place your trust in that won’t let you down simply because they are trustworthy. These are things that are so hard to find in the world that we live in today. Yesterday I saw those connections being built and fortified over and over again between the kids that were having the time of their lives, and vets that were having the time of their lives as they felt safe sharing this part of their lives with their loved ones, and most importantly the spouses who are the backbone and glue of our families..They were bonding and one spouse shared with me that she saw her “pre-deployment husband yesterday”: Meaning that she experienced her husband in his happy go lucky “pre-deployment” self… what a true gift for that family to experience that feeling at Michael’s Foundation’s Christmas party.  In my opinion, the reason for this was the atmosphere that the gathering provided her husband, where he could live in his comfort zone, and where he felt safe in a crowd of friends. Everyone that worked so hard to put the party together, that is what you gave them, a moment of peace, happiness and a memory that they will forever have that becomes a building block. That is what yesterday  meant to everyone…”

    As the founder of Michael’s Foundation I truly believed that starting a nonprofit in honor of my son Michael, who took his own life just a shortly after he left his eight year career with the Army, would be relatively easy.  I believed my passion and fulfilling Michael’s dream of helping veterans and their families post military to thrive just not survive, would be more than attainable. After all, I spent 30+ years as a C-level employee with large companies, owned 2 businesses, I had the desire, I had the financial backing, and I was surrounded by people who also believed in my mission to help veterans and their families assimilate back into Civilian life post military service.

    What I did not understand or could not have dreamed of, is that a for-profit business is way different than a non-profit business, no matter how much passion, purpose, and support one has in creating a nonprofit organization.  Certainly I never thought our nonprofit would be in its infancy during a worldwide pandemic; decimating our world through loss of lives, illness, people having to shutter into their homes for months, and worldwide-economic set backs. We felt as though the world stopped functioning as normal in the year of no name, both in our community and our personal lives.

    Like many non-profits, as well as for profit businesses, Michael’s Foundation had to pivot to survive 2020. Michael’s Foundation team successfully held on through 2020, and 2021 arrived with high hopes to find our new normal.  That hope was short lived, as we began to have Covid-19 variants affect both non- vaccinated and vaccinated people in our local community and to our own Michael’s Foundation team members. Once again, we felt paralyzed, unable to make our mission and vision a reality due to the constraints that COIVD-19 CDC guidelines had on our programs.  My team and I were asking ourselves, can we pivot once again as a nonprofit who had a purpose and a passion to serve Veterans and their families?

    THE ANSWER IS YES!  Here we are today, still in the midst of Covid lurking, but we are holding Michael’s Foundation together:  making progress, serving our community with our unique programing that is still free to our veterans. We have reached out to others with expertise and experience in organizing , supporting and running a successful nonprofit. We have used zoom for meetings and google for research.  What we at Michael’s Foundation have learned is that it takes a village to be a successful non-profit organization. Yes, there are so many different obstacles to maneuver in a non-profit organization, and it can seem all consuming even in the best of situations, but with the guidance and support of others, our passion continues to drive our success.

    In my very short time as a non-profit leader I am learning that it takes a Village to help build a successful non-profit with passion and purpose.. I am learning that by reaching out to others, asking for advice, sharing ideas, holding one another up, learning our trade, and understanding what it truly takes to run our foundation successfully are key.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn in so many different ways, from so many people that I have engaged with over the past few years. It truly does take a Village. Welcome to Michael’s Foundation, it is our hope you will enjoy learning about our mission and vision; that we have been successful in presenting to the public our passion and purpose. We hope you join us in sharing and caring in our mission and support Michael’s Foundation so we can grow and create additional free programing to our veterans and their families.

-By Kriss Titus