Skip to main content

Chain of Love

A few months ago, I posted a story in our monthly newsletter about the chain of love and it’s definition of paying it forward randomly – without knowledge of the effect one single act could have in the life of another at some point in the future.

This time of year, I love visiting the post office.  Let me correct that, any time of the year I love visiting the post office.  These visits yield unexpected fruit from kind strangers and great friends alike who support our efforts to provide comfort to military families facing a medical event. Some are anonymous or wish to remain so, some contributions are made in honor and memory of loved ones, community and military leaders, some include notes and many do not.  Just a simple “thanks for what you do.”  But it’s not about what we do, it’s really about what you do, the contributor who enables our work.  We lovingly call you “enablers” in a most positive way.

On my visit the first Tuesday of the new year, there was a typed letter that began, “Hey, Hope you are having a wonderful and blessed holiday season.” As you read on, you can tell it is likely enclosed as the family newsletter inside a Christmas card.  In the first paragraph, a description is made of the Fisher House mission, with an email link to the website.  In the second paragraph is where the chill bumps start due to the humanity that unfolds.  The chain of love……

12 years ago an 8th grader working on a project wants to collect items for his newly formed “organization”, appropriately named and not shared to protect the privacy of the persons in this story.  It appears he makes this a family affair as many middle school projects become.  He visits local businesses and amasses a collection of items, delivers them to a Fisher House at an Army/AFB near where he was raised, meets parents of sons and daughters returning from Iraq, guests in the home.  A home that is described as “full of love and compassion for those who needed that love the most.”  All excerpts from the letter.

The third paragraph fasts forward to December of 2016 when that same 8th grader, now a member of the USAF is medivac’d to our hospital on Eglin for tests and treatment of a mystery illness, contracted during a recent deployment to a foreign soil in defense of our great nation.  This airman’s father stayed in our home the letter says.  I am almost weeping as I type to describe in his words the effect of the care and warmth that was provided this family in our home on Eglin.  This father shared this story with his friends and family in their Christmas card, likely, and the recipient sent the letter to us with a very generous check enclosed.

Because of you, we were able to bless this family who so many years ago blessed other families, without expectation.  Sharing their story with friends, the blessing continued.  How can you make a difference in the life of another person today?  Some simple random act of kindness goes a long way.  To quote Charlie Daniels, “let’s make the day count.”

Introducing Gordy Fornell, Board of Directors Vice President

Gordy Fornell 2016Lieutenant General Fornell, USAF, (Ret) retired from active duty in the USAF in 1993 with over 35 years of service. He served in senior acquisition leadership positions in AF Systems Command and AF Materiel Command. The general is a command pilot with more than 7,000 flying hours in more than 40 types of aircraft.  His military decorations and awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal.  He also wears the Basic Parachutist Badge and the Missile Crew Member Badge.
He has been a private consultant since retiring and lives in Niceville, FL. He is also a member of the Defense Support Initiative of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, Chairman of the Air Force Armament Museum Foundation, member of both the Niceville Chamber of Commerce and Emerald Coast Military Affairs Committee, and member of the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority. He is a graduate of the AF Test Pilot School, holds an MBA from the Wharton School and an engineering degree from Michigan State University.

Meet Teresa Halverson, Board of Directors President

Teresa at Duke 2
In addition to her responsibilities as the Director of Marketing & Admissions at The Manor at Blue Water Bay in Niceville, Florida, Teresa Halverson serves as the President of the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Inc. She has been with the Manor for 12 years and joined the FHEC board in January of 2012.
Teresa and her husband Bob relocated to the area after Bob’s retirement from the Air Force in 2000.     She has a degree from the University of Las Vegas, NV in Social Work and is a graduate of the Okaloosa Leadership Program.  She is a Niceville/Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce board member, serving on  various committees, including Military Affairs, and is presently the Vice President of Membership Development.  Teresa is also a member of the Emerald Coast Military Affairs Council, the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and was recently selected as an honorary with the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base.
Teresa and her husband have one son, Garret, who is serving as an officer in the Marine Corp. When not volunteering or working, Teresa and Bob participate in local art shows as glass and jewelry artists.

Costa Enterprises – McDonalds supports FHEC with $1,500 donation

FHEC Costa 3-31-2016Costa Enterprises, which operates 19 McDonald’s locations in Northwest Florida, recently presented a $1,500 donation to Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Inc. through their Coffee for a Cause campaign.  The Costa family donated 50 percent of net proceeds from Monday coffee sales in the month of January to a local non-profit agency.  Donations made to Fisher House enable the organization to continue supporting military families during medical needs with lodging and transportation.   Fisher House, located on Eglin AFB opened in September of 2010, and has saved military families over $1,000,000 in lodging and transportation. The geographic footprint offers services to residents from Pensacola to Panama City.

The check was presented to board members Gordon Fornell and Katy Mitchell, along with board president, Teresa Halverson.  Representatives of Costa Enterprises – McDonalds included Roslyn Snyder, Steven Killebrew, David Costa, Jr., Jackie Wells, Dennis Ealy and Jesse Bell.

“David and his family have always made giving back to the communities they serve a top priority,” said Teresa Halverson, board of director’s president.  “The program that they created has become a trendsetter for other operators and we were honored to be selected again. “

Fisher House of the Emerald Coast hires Administrative Director

Hughes 2016

The Board of Directors for the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast (FHEC) welcomes Mia Hughes as their new Administrative Director. Her responsibilities will include raising funds to support the House, event planning and educating the community about what the Fisher House provides for the military in the panhandle. Fisher House, located on Eglin AFB opened in September of 2010, and began serving its first guests in October of that same year.  The geographic footprint offers services to residents from Pensacola to Panama City.  To date, it has saved military families over $1,000,000 in lodging and transportation.

With more than thirty years of business management and non-profit experience, Mia has been involved with local military families as a community supporter since 2008.  This new opportunity brings that passion and commitment full circle in a formal capacity as she takes the leadership role as the sole staff person.  She was previously Assistant Vice President of the Greater Pensacola Chamber and recently served with the Navarre Area Board of Realtors.  Originally from Panama City, she now calls Navarre home with her spouse, Tony.  Together they have six children, four grandchildren, two horses and a classified number of cats.  They are members of Community Life Methodist Church and enjoy cycling, horseback riding, boating and classic cars.

“Mia brings a tremendous background in non-profit management, fund raising and public relations,” said Teresa Halverson, Board of Directors President.  “As the demand for our services increase, we believe that having someone on board with Mia’s energy and organizational detail is critical to fulfilling our mission, which is to serve those who serve us. “