Loving Hands of Southeastern Connecticut was cofounded by a submarine spouse and another local member of the New London comunity whose hearts are dedicated to helping those who are less fortunate. We all fall on hard times in one way or another. Some of us are lucky enough to have family or friends in positions to help us out, while others feel very much alone or stuck by circumstance. Loving Hands was born out of a pure desire to help people in need, providing basic living essentials, and spreading kindness.
Read on to learn more and how you can support!
Name: Rachel Sheeler
Current Duty Station: Kings Bay, GA (recently PCS’d from Groton)
Q: Tell us about your non-profit.
The mission of Loving Hands of Southeastern Connecticut is to help clothe, feed, and supply basic necessities for the homeless and families/individuals in need within our community. Our non-profit is made possible and strictly relies on donations of clothing (especially cold-weather gear for the winter), shelf-stable food pantry items, bedding/sleeping bags, tents, and toiletry/personal hygiene items.
Each week, different members of our group provide homemade meals to be handed out along with any additional essentials we have to give. We also accept the donation of gift cards to assist in funding our cause. For example, we have gifted laundromat cards and detergent to those without a way to wash their clothes as well as gas cards to families in medical crises that need a way to transport back and forth to the hospital. While we know that we will never be able to clothe, feed, and stabilize an entire community in need, we hope that every person who receives from Loving Hands will know that they are loved, worthy, and have our support along their journey.
Q: What motivated you to start this non-profit organization?
A local in the community, Kim Grillo, initially started by simply collecting blankets for the homeless during the winter months on a Facebook page. Over time the blankets expanded into clothing, which turned into food, that then turned into tents, cots, hand warmers, and the list goes on and on. Kim was doing so much of this by herself that I dove in headfirst as soon as we moved to Groton a month or two later.
Kim is primarily the hands doing the work and actually out in the community, but she needed someone to manage the Facebook page, organize meals, keep a running list of needed items, drive around and do pickups of donations, etc. Seeing the pure JOY on people’s faces when we offer them a fresh set of clothing, a bag or food to last them a few days, or a coat and gloves when it’s snowing is the motivation that keeps us doing what we do. Even though it may be something small to us, it means the world to each recipient. They know that someone cared enough about their needs, to help provide.
Q: How do you manage the work/life balance as a military spouse?
Managing being a military spouse along with LH (Loving Hands) has actually been a blessing. After working long days in an ER before kids and now being a stay-at-home mom, I was looking for a way to continue making a difference in people’s lives all while staying home with my kids. Work from home jobs required too many hours at a time or didn’t offer the flexibility that I needed, but LH allows me to do pickups on days my kids don’t have a medical appointment. I was able to sort, fold, and organize clothing while they napped. There were even days when they would ask who we were going to help that day and THAT made it so much easier to bring them along for the ride but continue doing necessary behind-the-scenes things to keep our mission going.
Q: Any advice for fellow submarine spouses who want to start their own non-profit?
Make sure that whatever you do, whatever your mission or goal may be, you pour your entire heart into it. You also have to realize that you CANNOT do everything yourself. Ask for help. Let others offer to take some of the burden from your shoulders.
Q: Favorite thing(s) to do in your current duty station?
My favorite thing in the Groton area is to hike out to the open beach at Bluff Point State Park and have a picnic.
Q: Where/how can we support and learn more about your business?
Join our Facebook group! We continuously post updates here along with volunteer and donation opportunities! If you’d like to donate t our mission, you can support us on Go Fund Me or donate items from our Amazon Wish-List.