Teen-run nonprofit aims to help veterans, VA medical workers
Four women, all younger than 20, all with connections to the Hockaday School, and all with family who served in the military, have created a nonprofit dedicated to caring for veterans and providing meals to doctors, nurses, and staff in Veteran Affairs (VA) hospitals.
Celese Gierhart, Morgan Lutz, and sisters Catherine and Nancy Dedman teamed up in March, and since have been running the Serve Our Heroes without any additional help. “Just us girls,” as Nancy likes to say.
“We noticed that as people were donating towards other nonprofits, the VA was not getting as much aid, and we wanted to help the nurses and doctors there,” Nancy said.
Nancy still attends Hockaday. Her sister and Lutz graduated in 2019, and Gierhart just graduated.
“I feel like it’s a great way to contribute to society and to give back to the people who have sacrificed so much for us.”Nancy Dedman
Serve our Heroes started promoting through email, social media, and word of mouth to begin raising funds. From there, the young women partnered with local restaurants to provide meals for Dallas VA Medical Center.
“After funds started rolling in, we were able to do more and more,” Nancy said.
With these funds, they were able to spread beyond Dallas to the VA Hospitals in San Antonio.
“Being able to move our resources to other medical centers in Texas has been really rewarding,” Nancy said.
While the four learn how to run a nonprofit, they juggle food coordination in both cities, balance and deal with fund management, and spread the word through press releases.
“It has been both challenging and rewarding to start our nonprofit,” Gierhart said. “I have learned the importance of giving back to communities that others often neglect, the VA. I also learned new things about how the restaurant and medical worlds work.”
As of recently, Serve Our Heroes had served 13,015 meals to VA hospital workers with $112,579 raised.
Those numbers would not be possible without donations from people in Dallas, Nancy said. “I feel like it’s a great way to contribute to society and to give back to the people who have sacrificed so much for us.”
Want to give? Visit serveourheroes.org
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