Dear Trails of Purpose Team Members, Participants, and Supporters,
What a whirlwind year 2020 has been for all of us. I speak on behalf of the organization when I say that we never saw this coming. Handling the new “normal” in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic was quite a challenge as an organization still within its first full year of operation. I am extraordinarily proud of the manner in which our team (staff, board, and volunteers) rose to the occasion to innovate and adapt to the rising restriction coupled with the increase in demand for our services. This year’s success would not be possible without all of your efforts and flexibility.
Trails of Purpose began 2020 riding on the strong momentum of 2019 - our launch year. With over 45 thousand dollars (cash and assets) raised, we were set up for success to operate to our fullest capability in Spring of 2020. We partnered with and began offering services at LZ Grace Warrior Retreat in Virginia Beach. I feel incredibly blessed by the executives at LZG for so graciously seeing the importance in our mission and partnering with us to expand our services. This new location allowed us to operate year round in the indoor arena, and expand our group class size. We saw an incredible turn out in February for our new volunteer training. We hosted 3 group classes before COVID19 restrictions went into effect in Virginia.
Our board of directors regretfully made the responsible decision to cancel all sessions from March until the middle of May. When we returned to operating status, we did so with COVID19 safety protocols in place. We saw a smaller return in participants and volunteers in the beginning of May. Class sizes increased to an average of 10 veterans by the end of summer and ran through until the 21st of November.
With an increase in service member isolation, Trails of Purpose saw the dire need to launch our mental health departments in June of 2020. We contracted mental health counselors to begin seeing service members (and/or dependents) for individual psychotherapy. With each participant served, I became more assured that the department’s launch timing was perfect.
In October we hosted our first Psychoeducational Course on “Stress Management and Mental Health Maintenance”. This course ran the duration of the month, occurring once a week for two hours. We found this course to be an incredible success with service members and their spouses all reporting a growth in confidence levels to cope with stress in healthy manners. The average improvement was 17% (reported through self-reported scaling surveys).
In 2020, Trails of Purpose had developed working partnerships with LZ Grace, Veterans PATH, USO Outdoor Adventure Team, and the USSOCOM. We also developed financial relationships with SEVACF, Kiwanis of Chesapeake, and LEEPS Foundation as we were granted a total of $6500.00. We had graciously received $23,629.70 in individual donations. This year’s financial income was significantly lower than 2019 due to the COVID19 economic impact. However, I thank God that we were still funded fully to offer our services for free. I am hopeful for a healthier and safer New Year for all.
While 2020 was challenging in so many ways, I saw the Trails of Purpose community come together stronger than ever before. As we move through this pandemic and have a new awareness of the effects of isolation, it is my hope that society will gain more compassion for our service members who combat feelings of isolation every day of their life. I am honored to serve alongside team members who work ceaselessly to create the strong community our military population deserves. Thanks to your support and our team, Trails of Purpose provided just under 65,000 service hours. To all of our directors, contractors, volunteers, financial supporters, and participants, THANK YOU for a year full of growth. You are trail blazers.
"As we move through this pandemic and have a new awareness of the effects of isolation, it is my hope that society will gain more compassion for our service members who combat feelings of isolation every day of their life. "