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I would like to take a moment to recognize the outstanding effort and leadership of Warrior Songs Board Member Connie Hunter-Baptiste. Recently, Warrior Songs received an unexpected $4,500 grant from our very generous benefactors at The Bloomfield Family Foundation. The grant was designated to support veterans experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19 related issues. As financial assistance grants are outside of our wheelhouse, Warrior Songs would need to build an entire system of application and distribution out of thin air.
Normally, building the plane as we fly it is not a problem for us. However, at the time we found out we would receive the grant, extenuating personal issues had aggravated my PTSD to the point of debilitation. Having once been a veteran at risk of homelessness, I knew time was of the essence. I began to really struggle with the idea that my disability would hinder our capacity to get the grants to veterans in need in an expedient manor. Then I remembered that I have a great team in my board of directors, reached out, and informed them of my concerns.
That is when Connie stepped up and took the lead. Within 24 hours, she had an online application form ready and approved by the rest of the board. Within 48 hours, she had created the rubrics for application and distribution through collaborating VSOs. Connie used her Senior Ambassador position at Women Veteran Social Justice Network to assist Warrior Songs with cultural competency as we laid out a plan to meet diversity goals in our grant distribution. Within 72 hours, we were approving our first grant applicant.
Connie didn’t stop there. She continued to take the lead in arranging a direct connection with our treasurer, who, as our newest board member, she had previously not met. Within one week of receiving notice of the grant award, the first applicant had received their emergency grant. The momentum caused by her excellent leadership was so outstanding, that it motivated the rest of the board into immediate action. When we ran out of the $4,500 with four veterans left on a waiting list, we created an online fundraiser and raised another $1,000 to assist them. Had the program not been so effectively managed, I do not believe this additional fundraiser would have been successful.
From left to right: Vera Roddy, Shelly Nichols, and Connie Hunter-Baptiste receiving the award WAMI Album of the Year award 2019
In the end, due to the exceptional leadership of Connie Hunter-Baptiste, 22 veterans struggling with financial hardship due to COVID-19 received emergency cash assistance grants of $250 each. Due to Connie Hunter-Baptiste’s outstanding networking skills and collaboration with WVSJ, we met and exceeded our diversity goals. Thank you Connie for your outstanding leadership on this mission. Warrior Songs is an honored to have you on our board of directors. Thank you on behalf of the myself, the board of directors, and the 22 veterans who your efforts assisted. The value you bring to our organization is without comparison.
Warrior Songs Founder and Executive Director.
To download the track "Always On Top" for free, go to https://warriorsongs.org/dl and enter the code abcd-1234
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