In 2007, Ella Mae Rawlings, Co- Chair, shared her heart regarding a burden she had for the military women and wives at the Twentynine Palms Marine base. Having chaired a luncheon at the base 15 years ago, I never forgot the women and the desolation of their environment. With the war in Iraq and Afghanistan escalating, we felt there was a need for the women at the base to know they were loved, appreciated and not forgotten. We wanted them to know they had a civilian support team that understands “freedom is not free”.
Chaplain Moured, at the Marine Base, shared some of the concerns these women face with the many deployments. Often times there is fear, loneliness, desperation and marriages suffer from the long separations. Sadly, some make the ultimate sacrifice with the loss of their loved one.
We felt compelled to put our feelings into action. We met with the East Valley Women’s Connection and shared our vision to reach out to these precious women. We decided to plan an Appreciation Luncheon to honor these women and call it “Heart to Heart”.
Our first appreciation luncheon took place February 2008 at the Kate Smith Estate in Palm Springs, CA with 125 attending. The V.I.P. list included the General Spiese, Twentynine Palms Marine Base Commander and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack. This was a springboard for an annual “Heart to Heart” luncheon.
To date, approximately 400 women from the Twentynine Palms Marine Base have been honored at the “Heart to Heart” Appreciation Luncheons. We have been touched by the generous support of the community who honored our efforts with their generous donations.