Brooklyn Park Woman Starts Nonprofit To Boost Soldier Morale
Suicide rates among service members have been a concern over the last decade. But a Brooklyn Park woman is doing what she can to boost troop morale.
Glenda Parkhurst started a nonprofit, Operation Empowering Hope, to send care packages to troops.
The idea began in 2020 when her daughter was serving on the base in Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
“When she landed everything she could possibly harm herself with was taken away from her,” said Parkhurst.
That incident helped open Parkhurst’s eyes to the concerning rate of suicide among soldiers.
“They are risking their lives for us and we should be doing everything we can to help them,” said Parkhurst. I don’t want kids committing suicide when they have so much life ahead of them.”
A Handwritten Note of Thanks
Parkhurst starting sending care packages to her daughter to deliver to soldiers at her base. Now, Parkhurst sends packages to four bases that are delivered by chaplains who are specially equipped to support soldiers.
“The chaplain is sworn to secrecy, so they will not say anything and so they can share the stress they are struggling with and get the help that they need,” said Parkhurst.
Parkhurst ships out donations of single-serve coffee machines, coffee pods, snacks, hygiene products and comfort items for chaplains to share.
“For a while there, I know some of our chaplains were dealing with two to three suicides a month, so the more things I could do to help them, the better,” said Parkhurst.
A handwritten note is also included, sometimes coming from school kids.
“Those letters that the kids have written, even though they don’t know these children, they mean so much to them, that they will tack them on the wall. They’ll tack them on a bulletin board if they have one, and they will read those letters every day. It’s just a huge encouragement for them,” said Parkhurst.
A couple times a month, Operation Empowering Hope volunteers put together care packages.
“We are all family and I like to say every service member out there is somebody’s child,” said volunteer Colnette Skinner.
It may just be a box, but it’s one filled with hope and love.
“Just knowing I’m making an impact in the world is so, so powerful,” said Parkhurst.