For military veterans who have proudly served, there can be physical and emotional injuries that make it difficult to transition back to civilian life – some estimates say as many as 20 percent of returning vets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Barbara Blair has touched the lives of many struggling vets in need of companionship through her efforts as the Georgia chapter director of Pets for Vets, where she leads state-wide programs for the national organization dedicated to veterans and rescued shelter pets.
After spending a chaotic day on a boat rescuing people from Hurricane Harvey floodwaters, Matthew Marchetti set out to see if he could put his data engineering skills to work to find a more organized way to save those affected by the storm damage. He created a platform called CrowdSource Rescue to connect victims with volunteers while local officials and the U.S. Coast Guard were inundated with calls. Within hours of setting up the platform, Matthew received thousands of requests for rescue.
Lisa Colella is dedicated to connecting caregivers of U.S. veterans with essential support as families face transitioning from active duty to the civilian world. When Lisa’s husband was forced into a medical retirement after he suffered a brain injury during deployment, the mother of two was forced to confront some issues that threatened to break up her family. Realizing there were others like her in the veteran community who needed critical resources, Lisa started a Facebook group for families of veterans in an effort to strengthen the family foundation through support – a network that bloomed into Healing Household 6.
As the first volunteer for Refuge Coffee in Clarkston, Georgia – an area that hosts the most diverse square mile in the country and is home to over 60 native-spoken languages – Karen Guess brings together people from all walks of life over the universal language of coffee and tea. She moved to the area at the same time as Refuge Coffee founder Kitti Murray, who had a dream of creating just such a communal place.