Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Soldiers Angels LWT Leader-A Quiet Inspiration

A few weeks ago, I received the usual email from my Soldiers Angels Letter Writing Team Leader, with the name of a soldier to write to for that week.And while I was reading the end of the email, where she always includes a short personal note saying something positive or encouraging,it occurred to me that she had been sending me these emails for over a year now.

While the Internet does make it possible for someone to perhaps present only the 'best' side of themselves in a short interaction?  When you spend over a year emailing back and forth with someone, you get a sense of who they are.

Because I wanted to share with all of you what I have sensed from my Team Leader? I sent her an email, asking her if she would let me feature a little bit on here about who she is, and what she does as a Team Leader for the Soldiers Angels Letter Writing Team.

She graciously agreed, so,without further editorial comment...I'd like to introduce you to Rhonda, from Chambersburg,PA.

Hi Kathi,

I joined SA in Jan 2005.  As a single person with no immediate family or friends in the service, I was looking for a way to help.  I actually stumbled across the Soldier's Angels website and joined that day.  I joined the letter writing team approx. 2 weeks later.  At the time, my friend was battling cancer and we had many trips to Pittsburgh to the hospitals and doctors, so I'd take all my writing stuff with me and while she slept, I'd write.  I started with one name per day, but quickly added names until I was receiving 37 names per week.  (I figured one for each year of my age was good! lol)  At first, responses were slow, but soon, I was corresponding with, either via email or snail mail, approx 80-100 soldiers.  (this was in addition to my adoptees) 
My friend's condition was so up and down, so I took a break and backed down to 2 names per day for a bit, and then took a short break for a week.  (I just felt that as much as I wanted to support the troops, I needed to support my friend as well)  I was able to do both this way!  In May, I was beginning to be overwhelmed, and I didn't want to stop the letter writing, so I checked into becoming a Team Leader.  I felt that way, I would still be helping to support and help others support, but wouldn't feel so guilty if I got behind on my names. 
I became a team leader in May 2005.  I love it.  I've "met" some really great people.  (I think my team is TOPS!!)  My team isn't one of the biggest ones, (as far as I know), but we send out a lot of letters.  We have a lot of devoted and caring people.  As a letter writing team leader, one has to keep in mind that it's a 365 day per year job.  For each person on my team, I have to send the requested number of names to them each day.  Right now, that averages out to approx. 20-25 emails per day.  We are required to keep a spreadsheet of names and addresses of our team members as well as how many names they wish to receive and on which days.  This is updated throughout the month as people need/ want breaks, take vacations, or just change the days they want names and how many names they wish to receive.  We are also required to keep a spreadsheet for every day throughout the year that lists every name we send out.  Of course, when the number of names is changed or days are changed, that requires and update and change to both of the spreadsheets.  At the end of each month, we are required to send a copy of our sheets to the Letter Writing Team managers, and we have to report the number of writers we have on our team and how many letters our team sent out for the month. 
I do not get to write nearly as many letters as I used to, but I do write letters when I can.  I actually have the "luxery" of alot of spare time with my part time job, so I have started writing more regularly again. 
During the time I've been a team leader, I've taken time off a total of 3 different times.  The first time was when my friend passed away.  I was devastated, and I just couldn't bring myself to carry on with any "regular" lifetime things for a bit of time.  I took a week off.  When I picked up to start sending names again, I was again devastated because I found out that my team hadn't been taken care of.  I was under the impression that names would be sent out as per usual, but upon my return, I found out that that hadn't happened.  So, like a mama who protects her young, I do anything and everything I can not to throw my team to the wolves again.  Until just this past year, I've sent names when I'm sick, when I've been off work, or when I've gone away for mini vacations or even "big" vacations!!  The time I took of this past Sept was the first in over a year that I let the team in the hands of someone else.    When I took off in November,I just sent all the names out ahead of time for the time I'd be off.
Our team consists of 52 active members as of today.  It varies anywhere from 50 to 65.  I send out approx 250 names per week. 
I can't tell you how excited I get for people who hear back from a soldier.  We do this without expecting anything back, but we all secretly hope that just maybe, we'll get a letter!  (I know we do! lol)  It's just the biggest warm fuzzy feeling when I get a letter, and I'm equally as excited for "my" writers.  So, I can only just imagine how our troops must feel when they get our letters!!  I feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest sometimes!  lol
Each day or evening, I spend about an hour or a little more to get the names out to everyone.  I like to have them to everyone early in the morning.  I've gotten a little lax the few weeks I've been back from vacation and somedays haven't gotten them out til almost 9 am.  (that's something I need to get back in check)  I like them to be out by 7 at the very latest.
I adore all the people on my team.  For the most part, the team's been with me since I started as a team leader, so, they've grown with me.  I try to do whatever I can for them and I like to do what I can.  (that's my for others)  That's truly what makes me happy.  I do what I can to acommodate special requests, answer questions, and just help anyway I can.  I have some writers who prefer to write to Marines only, and some that prefer to write to the females, and some who only want a name every other week.  Just last week, I came home late Saturday night, after getting off work, and opened my email to see an SOS.  A writer had just emailed me, (approx 11:30 pm) and requested 50 additional names in addition to her usual one.  She needed the names by noon on Sunday.  lol  I just never know what I may get sometimes!  I enjoy hearing about the people and families of my writers.  ( I feel like they are all my big extended family)  I've gone through surgeries, illnesses, ups and downs, with quite a few.  I'm just glad to be there.
I do also work on the 2nd adoptions team which assigns angels to soldiers, and I am on the Wounded Letter Writing Team.
Thanks and take care,
I think the above email says it all, as to why I respect, admire, and treasure my Soldiers Angels Letter Writing Team leader......A Quiet Inspiration.
Thank you, Soldiers Angels , for making it possible for me to meet someone like this.....and thank you, Rhonda , for all that you do !!It's an honor and a privilege to know someone like you.

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