Operation Heroes Connect is a nonprofit organization that partners volunteer service members and veterans with at risk youth as well as serves that community through volunteer work. It was founded in August 2011 by GySgt Tawanda Hanible (USMC), an active duty service member. Operation Heroes Connect was incorporated in the state of Virginia on January 23, 2012. GySgt Hanible was featured in Newsweek magazines Heroes edition for her contributions in the community. GySgt Hanible is this year’s recipient of the C. Haskell Small volunteer award, an award that was established in 1984 and is presented each year to recognize the outstanding volunteer service of an enlisted service member. GySgt Hanible is also this year’s recipient of the Maj McClung leadership award. Maj McClung was the first female Marine officer to be killed in the Iraq war, as well as the first female graduate of the United States Naval Academy to be killed in action since the school was founded in 1845. To be nominated for this award recipient must exhibit inspirational, innovative, and imaginative leadership, demonstrated both on and off-duty. Nominees should be mature leaders who have shown exceptional leadership over time and have persevered to overcome challenges while serving. Nominations should address nominee’s professional accomplishments, leadership style, and community involvement.
Our Mentorship Program
Our mission at Operation Heroes Connect is to partner local youth with military and veteran mentors helping them to explore and access the support, resources, and opportunities necessary for them to reach their full potential and make positive choices in their lives. Operation Heroes Connect provides support, guidance, friendship, role modeling, assistance, and an attentive ear to those in need.
This nonprofit organization partners volunteer service members and veterans with mentoring at risk youth ages 7-17. To date, Operation Heroes connect has paired 36 children with active duty and veteran mentors ensuring these children are given the opportunity to have better futures. Since the start of our mentorship program our organization has had huge success stories such as Sgt Ivan Linares one of our mentors currently stationed at Quantico, VA. Since becoming a mentor to young Courtlon in January of 2012, the day to day difference that he has brought out in this child has been nothing short of extraordinary. Ivan joined our staff wanting to make a difference in a young child’s life and so far he has done exactly that and much more. Courtlon’s mother, Lonita loves the changes she sees in her son “My son has really started to listen better and improve in his studying since Ivan has become his mentor” Ivan regularly checks in on his mentee to ensure that he is caught up on homework and to spend one on one time with Courlton. Our core mission at Operation Heroes Connect is to provide support, guidance, friendship and an attentive ear to those we mentor. Ivan not only follows our core mission but he has continuously set the bar for all other mentors to follow!
Our Volunteer Program
Through our volunteer program we want to give back to those who have continued to support us. Our program is centered towards helping out in our local communities from donating our time and resources to homeless shelters, organizing food drives, and assisting others. It is our pleasure to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people in our community!
Operation Heroes Connect frequently participates in the Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) Adopt a Day by serving dinner and lunches to homeless families that reside at the ACTS homeless shelter. In 2011 Operation Heroes Connect started a food drive campaign helping ensure that the local ACTS food pantry didn’t go empty during the 2011 holiday season, collecting 12 boxes of food for Thanksgiving. Operation Heroes Connect was not only able to collect nonperishable items for this cause, but was also able to raise awareness in the local community though social media encouraging other organizations to do the same.
Operation Heroes Connect has also sent over 4,400 holiday cards and care packages to deployed Marines and Sailors over the 2011 and 2012 holiday season. During the 2011 holiday season Operation Heroes Connect conducted an “Adopt a Soldier” and “Christmas Eve Dinner” event by collecting and distributing over 7,000 toys for families in need. The organization was also recognized for their efforts and assistance that was requested through the Big Brother Big sister program. This was evident by the letter of appreciation Operation Heroes Connect received by the Big Brother Big Sister organization. The organization and its founder were recently recognized in an article by Newsweek magazine. In November 2012 Gunnery Sergeant Hanible, the founder, was asked to speak on a panel in Washington, DC where Newsweek magazine hosted the “Urge to Serve” panel, spotlighting organizations that were doing extraordinary things in their communities.
This year, Operation Heroes Connect was recently the recipient of the Black Celebrity Giving 2013 Rising Star award. The Rising Star award identifies organizations less than 2 years old that show a promising future and a creative mission and are taking the right steps by creating social change along the way! Operation Heroes Connect has also recently been nominated as volunteer of the year by another nonprofit, Action in Community through Service (ACTS), for the volunteer of the year award that we will be receiving on April 30th.
This organization was founded with the intent of wanting to give back to the communities that have continued to support us; however the mission has become and win, win for both the veterans and service members of Operation Heroes Connect as well as the communities and children in our program. With so many children in need of a positive role model in their lives, the service members and veterans of OPHC can and want to answer that call.