US Navy Announces Navy’s 2011 Spirit of Hope Winner
Carolyn Blashek, the founder of Operation Gratitude, is the Navy’s 2011 Spirit of Hope winner, officials announced, Sept. 17 in NAVADMIN 286/12.
Blashek founded Operation Gratitude in 2003 as a nonprofit, volunteer based organization to support deployed service members, their children and wounded warriors. Since its inception Operation Gratitude has sent over 750,000 care packages addressed to individual Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines in hostile regions such as Afghanistan, the Middle East and onto military ships. The organization has also sent thousands of “Battalion Buddy” packages with stuffed animals to the children of deploying troops.
Cmdr. Randolph Borges, commanding officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85, Air Station North Island, Calif. nominated Blashek. In his nomination letter he said her “service to the spiritual, social, welfare, education and entertainment needs of the men and women in the armed services and truly represents the core values of the Navy.”
Blashek will be presented her award at a joint ceremony honoring awardees from all services at the Pentagon, Nov. 15.
Established in 1997, the Spirit of Hope Award is presented by the Wiegand Foundation in honor of the famed entertainer and supporter of military personnel, Bob Hope. The award is presented to individuals or organizations that embody Hope’s commitment and service to the men and women of the military. A Navy Sailor or civilian has been honored with this award every year since 2005.
Naval Today Staff, September 19, 2012; Image: US Navy