The Sudbury Military Network — One Year and Counting
“The Sudbury Military Support Network is awesome! Patty Houpt is wonderful! The whole organization is doing fantastic work!” said Carrie Kenney about the Sudbury Military Support Network (SMSN). Kenny, the mother of two young girls, wife of a soldier in Afghanistan, and music teacher at the Curtis Middle School tells of many instances when the network gave needed aid, such as driving her and her daughters to the airport or help with a doctor’s appointment or when a car breaks down.
The Sudbury Military Support Network is a vibrant association of a wide range of Sudbury residents. The organization first started as a group of people who had family members in the military. At that time, the group called themselves the Sudbury Military Families Support Group and met to talk and put together care packages to send to service men and women they knew. Because many other townspeople wanted to show support for our sons and daughters in the military, especially after one of our own, Sudbury resident Scott Milley, was killed in combat, the group grew as did the number of residents in the military. Currently, Sudbury has approximately five of its citizens deployed and many others serving in the armed forces.
Last March, in true community fashion, through the determination of Patty Houpt and Robin Gunderson, with support from the selectmen, assistant town manager and the veteran’s agent, the Sudbury Military Support Network was born. Mark Kablack, Esq., donated his time to incorporate the group, and a very busy first year began. With the approval of the selectmen, the “Welcome Home” program was inaugurated. Large ‘Welcome Home” banners have been hung between the columns on the Town Hall when a resident returns from deployment, and each soldier receives a Welcome Home gift bag. The following members of the military have been welcomed home: Billy Houpt, Chris Hamilton, Brian Mahoney, Bryan Warner, Peter Organsky, Ben Cote, Brad Murray, Dennis Ford, Vic Beck and Evan Gerbe. We look forward to welcoming home Nick Rahall later this month as well.
Throughout the year, members of the Network have volunteered and/or led other supportive activities. There is a photo album of the townspeople serving their country in the library. The album was dedicated to Lt. Scott Milley at Goodnow Library in May. That same month, with the contributions of local businesses, Military Appreciation Month was held. Local merchants such as Sullivan Tire, Sudbury Coffee Works, Bosse Sports Club and Longfellow Sports club have really reached out to support our troops. A military family barbeque was held at the Methodist Church. Families also marched in the Memorial Day Parade.
By September, more excitement was generated and more people became involved. Network members volunteered for a Wounded Warriors Project Soldier Ride in Concord. Hundreds of soldiers and others rode through Concord, many of them with what may have seemed to be severe physical limitations. However, these warriors saw the ride as a challenge and did not consider themselves limited. Sudbury began its own chapter of the Wounded Warriors project when SMSN members Brendan Mahoney and Sudbury Town Selectman Bob Haarde started one. Their first foray was a Wounded Warriors golf outing at Charter Oaks Country Club in Hudson. The SMSN provided volunteers, as well as golfers, and the organization raised over $10,000 to support the Wounded Warriors Project.
As the autumn swept in, community efforts to provide holiday cheer for our military heated up. In October, preparations were made to gather goods for care packages to be sent overseas. An eighth-grade team at Curtis Middle School and classes at the Peter Noyes Elementary School, wrote letters to servicemen and women. At Curtis, huge boxes were filled with donated items and sent to the Methodist Church for storage. One Saturday, Sudbury Farms provided space to collect donations of food and money and even set up a table inside the store so that people could purchase items needed by our men and women. Meanwhile in the Methodist Church, the floor was covered with bags of donated items to be sent overseas for the holidays. SMSN members sorted the donations and they were sent off, filling the trucks of the Local Heroes organization. Peter Noyes Elementary School held a special Town Meeting celebration honoring local vets including some of their own moms and dads that serve.
In conjunction with the Sudbury Senior Center, the group hosted a luncheon for Veterans of all ages at the Fairbanks Center. The Wayside Inn generously donated the delicious meal. The holiday season activities did not end with the donations. At the Hosmer House, a room was decorated by the Network. The room featured pictures of local soldiers, sailors, and marines with their pets! Network members enjoyed sharing these treasured photographs.
Currently, plans are being hatched for more support and more projects are being considered. The members are bristling with ideas. However, the Sudbury Military Support Network welcomes input from the community and any help or suggestions people are willing to give. Toward that end, the web site www.sudburymilitarysupportnetwork.org was launched by Rachel Goodrich as a place for people to go and find lists of activities, celebrations, and opportunities to support our troops. The site also has link to our Facebook group!