Military moms organize to offer support and aid
By SALLY BOYD
Gazette Neighbors Editor
Mothers who have children serving in the military come from all walks of life and all persuasions — young, old, rich, poor, Catholic, Protestant, Republican and Democrat — but all have one common thread in common: Fear for their child’s safety and the family uncertainty which military service brings.
A brand new support group just for those mothers — Blue Star Mothers — is now meeting monthly in Bellevue. All women of the area, not just Bellevue, are encouraged to gather on the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Bellevue City Council chambers, 3000 Seneca Industrial Parkway.
All mothers of military personnel — not just those on active duty — are welcome, stressed Barb Cook, president of the just-chartered organization, the Lake Erie Shores Chapter of Blue Star Mothers.
“We would love to have women from all around the area — Bellevue, Clyde, Norwalk, Fremont, Monroeville, Port Clinton, Sandusky — anywhere, join us,” Cook said during the chartering ceremony held Monday, Jan. 21, in council chambers.
Cook, who has been the driving force behind the new group, has a son in the Army who deployed to Afghanistan on July 11. During a phone call to his mother, he suggested she look up the Blue Star Mothers. The nearest chapter she could find was the Home Front Moms’ Chapter 60 in Elyria, where she quickly became involved.
Knowing there are plenty of other mothers like herself from this area, Cook was determined to start a chapter based in Bellevue, which she seeks to establish as a regional hub for potential members. She began working the idea in September and on Nov. 19, 2012, held the first meeting of interested military moms in Bellevue. The city has offered to let the women gather in the chamber office, which they will utilize for the immediate future.
To create a charter required enough members to fill the five required offices. Cook soon had recruited the necessary core and on Monday, those women were officially sworn in to lead the new Lake Erie Shores Chapter. The formal ceremony was conducted by two state Blue Star Mothers officers, Dawn Woodings, of Elyria, the Department of Ohio’s first vice president, who was the installing officer, and Pat Pell, of Huron, a past Department of Ohio president, who served as chaplain.
Standing before a sign board featuring photos of the new members’ military children — both sons and sons-in-law — Woodings and Pell administered the oaths of office to Cook, who will serve a two-year term as president; Connie Schaffer, vice president; Donna McPeek, recording secretary; Cheri Spurlock, financial secretary; and Elaine Brock, treasurer.
Of the group, which includes three additional members at the moment, one has a son in the Navy and seven have sons in the Army.
“We are a support group,” said Brock.
“However, we will also be doing several projects, including preparing care packages, doing community service and helping with the new Fallen Soldiers Memorial plaza (located immediately behind Subway on property donated by Firelands Federal Credit Union).”
That plaza was dedicated this past Veterans Day (Nov. 11) and features monuments to local soldiers who gave their lives in service to this country, as well as special pavers paying tribute to the city’s former prisoners of war, and smaller pavers honoring the local many men and women who have served in the military.
“Of course, we hope to gain more members,” said Cook. “We really do want to include all women from the area.”
Dues for the organization are $20 per year. People who would like to learn more about the group are encouraged to call Cook (after 3 p.m.) at 419–681-5832 or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. The group will next meet on Feb. 18.