2017 April

Kaitlyn and Hannah Norwood

Twins on a Mission

Meet Kaitlyn and Hannah, the optimistic service-driven twin daughters of an active duty Army Colonel who live with Mom in Texas while Dad is stationed in Washington D.C.

The girls spent most of their formative years moving every 2-3 years, but have called Texas home since the end of 7th grade. Mom and Dad always knew that they wanted their girls to have the full, sports-crazy Texas high school experience that they’d had.

The girls are thriving in Texas and they credit their many moves to that success. Kaitlyn explains, “I’ve lived in so many places, I can talk to anyone. No one’s a stranger.” Hannah adds, “We know what it’s like to be the new kid; I can spot them, and then I help them adjust.”

Overlooking their own struggles, they reach out to others. According to the girls, that’s just part of being in a military family, “Service is an essential part of everyone’s life in the military.”

Kaitlyn, who plays the trombone and is the drum major at her school, wants to be a doctor in emergency medicine. She credits her upbringing with that decision. “Through my leadership opportunities, I’ve learned to get along with all ages. I can take charge under pressure. I notice the little things; I’m very observant.” These skills will certainly help her in the medical field.

Hannah, who is in her school’s varsity choir and show choir, wants a career in psychology. She fell in love with the field in her AP Psychology class. “I love to listen and I can relate to different types of people because of my experiences. Living all over the US, and in England and Belgium, exposed me to different cultures, races, and religions. I don’t judge others.”

But life isn’t all about high school, marching band, and musicals. The girls miss their Dad—especially when he isn’t there for big events—and there are lots of them for these active high school juniors.

During Dad’s four deployments to Southwest Asia and Afghanistan, the girls learned to adjust and rely on their mom, “It was just the three of us and our dog.” Being stationed in DC now, Dad tries to get home every 2-3 months and for that they are grateful.

When asked about other hardships they endured, Hannah relates, “We could see our relatives only once or twice a year—less when we were overseas.” And Kaitlyn adds, “When we knew ahead of time that we’d be moving, it made us reluctant to form deep attachments.”

Always searching for the bright side, the girls happily declare that they have friends all over the globe and use social media to stay connected. Hannah’s best friend lives in Dubai.

Both girls are enjoying the connections they are making in the Gratitude Initiative (GI) College Success Academy. Kaitlyn says, “I like that I can call them and ask questions because the counselors at my school aren’t very helpful on an individual basis.” Hannah loves the step-by-step guidance, “I got an email just the other day reminding me to sign up for the SAT by Friday. That was a big help!”

Mom pipes in, “I love that GI honors military kids for the service and sacrifices they’ve made.” That is something we at GI are very proud to do.

Kaitlyn and Hannah are on a mission to change the world for the better with their can-do attitude and devotion to serving others, and we are moved that with GI’s college and career planning program, we can help make that happen.

Gratitude Initiative (GI) is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit that provides essential education programs and college scholarships to military and veteran kids around the globe. GI’s programs are provided at no cost to the children and families of military service members, veterans, disabled veterans, and those killed in defense of our country.


Gratitude Initiative Named 2017 Carry the Load Non-Profit Partner

Gratitude Initiative (GI) is pleased to announce that we have been selected to be a 2017 Non-Profit Partner of Carry The Load (CTL) for the third year in a row.

GI’s founder, Lee Sechrist, says, “GI is honored to be selected as a Carry The Load Non-Profit Partner. They’ve helped us become a positive influence in the lives of military and veteran families around the globe. Carry The Load became an early supporter of Gratitude Initiative. Thanks to the exposure we have received through their events and the generous financial support they have provided, we have been able to expand our reach to military and veteran families much faster than we ever anticipated. We are making a positive impact on the lives of military and veteran kids around the world because of Carry The Load and we are grateful for their continued partnership.”

Carry The Load is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to provide an active way to honor and celebrate our nation’s heroes by connecting Americans to the sacrifices made by Military, Law Enforcement, Firefighters and First Responders.

What started as a mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day has broadened to include more than just our military heroes and more than just one holiday. Carry The Load works to bring all Americans together to participate in honoring our nation’s heroes every day.

There will be two national relays again this year to raise awareness and funds. The West Coast Relay starts on April 28th in Seattle, the East Coast Relay starts on April 30th in Boston, and both routes end in Dallas on May 28th at Reverchon Park. Check the CTL website for rallies along each of the routes and be sure to join us at the park on May 28-29th for a huge family friendly event honoring our heroes.

To get involved in Carry The Load’s mission, join a team, or make a donation, please go their website, www.carrytheload.org. You can also follow them on Facebook, and on Twitter or Instagram @CarryTheLoad. Who will you carry?