Today Mother Goose is honking and flapping with joy to wish a very Happy Birthday to Russ Hopkins, my mentor in this adventure that I like to call Honoring the Troops and Their Families as a full-time volunteer activity!
For years and years, Russ has gotten busier and busier with his retirement “hobby” of connecting military families — connecting them to each other and to the people who care about them. He literally knows millions of people! Anyone who knows Russ knows that he knows EVERYONE in the nation involved in military family support. And they know him also!
I first met Russ over a year ago when I answered a notice on VolunteerMatch.com looking for people with a heart for bringing back the old Blue Star Banner tradition. I was immediately struck by his passion and gift for networking and connecting people, as well as his seemingly endless stream of emails informing me of great opportunities to get involved with this volunteer mission.
Russ has so many ideas for reaching these often invisible families.
He is intensely invested in so many state and national committees that focus on meeting the needs of military families, military kids, veterans and active-duty troops. It seems that he attends at least twenty meetings each and every week, and has valuable input for everybody on the committees.
Just to name a few of his special interests: the National Military Family Association, the Illinois Military Family Initiative, the Blue Star Family Platoon, the Chicago LAN and so many more that I’m not even aware of.
The handsome young man in the picture above is Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Hopkins. Nearly one year ago, Ryan was deployed to Afghanistan with his combat unit. Within just weeks of arriving in the “sandbox”, he was injured while out on patrol. He was sent back to the states for recovery and treatment for “traumatic brain injury” and hopes to be active and deployed again soon.
Russ stays in close communication with Ryan as well as his other grandchildren. He’s so devoted and committed to them!
I’m sure that Russ will be very surprised to see that Mother Goose has saluted him on his birthday! I must tell you, this blog was one of his best ideas! With this bloggish platform, we can continue to do the work of advocacy and public relations for those families, soldiers, schools, committees and other organizations whose stories need to be told.
Mother Goose salutes you on your birthday, Russ Hopkins!
If any of my dear and faithful readers would like to leave a birthday wish for Russ, please go right ahead — there’s a nice place for comments just below…