"We are not put on this earth for ourselves but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you." - Jeff Warner
Wreaths Across America understands our military is always there in the time of need and the mission to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and their families, and teach younger generations the value of freedom offers our volunteers the opportunity to be there for them. As the WAA Stem to Stone program motto states, "You stood to serve, we stand to support."
No other organization unites the amount of committed and compassionate volunteers as Wreaths Across America, and we applaud their remarkable community service as they work countless hours to be sure no hometown hero is ever forgotten.
Nicole Pelletier is one of those volunteers. She's a thirty-one-year-old mother of two who finds the time for substitute teaching and community service.
Nicole and her husband started volunteering with Wreaths Across America while living in Maryland and joined the wreath-laying effort at Arlington National Cemetry for three years before moving to Massachusetts.
"I searched in our area, and there was nothing immediate with everything an hour or more away," Nicole explains. "So I said, hey why not, let's start a ceremony here."
Nicole says because she's a somewhat shy person she knew her greatest challenge was going to be fundraising for wreath sponsorships, but she persevered and moved forward as the new WAA Location Coordinator for the Fairview Cemetery in Westford Massachusetts.
"I knew nothing about fundraising and was way out of my comfort zone, so I took out books from the library, I got in touch with our local representative who gave me ideas, I even reached out to the local school's parent-teacher organization because I knew they had experience. I have to admit though because of the warmth and excitement around the Wreaths Across America mission it got a lot easier as I went along."
Nicole's military connections are an additional motivating factor. Her Grandfather, PFC Frank Fazio served in the USMC during the Korean War. Her cousins both serve, one who will be deployed soon to the Middle East and her husband works for a civilian company serving the Department of Defense.
Nicole says her efforts fundraising for Wreaths Across America always brings about personal stories that often come from complete strangers.
"I've had people open up to me and say, 'Oh my Father is buried in that cemetery' and some veterans have said to me, 'I'm so glad someone will remember me when I'm gone."
It was last season when eight inches of snow fell on Fairview Cemetery on Wreaths Across America Day, and the volunteer scheduled to lay a wreath to represent the U.S. Coast Guard during the ceremony was unable to attend. That's when a car rolled in, and two high school aged boys got out of a car with Coast Guard plates. When Nicole asked the woman driving about the plates she informed Nicole her husband and the boys' father was deployed overseas with the U.S. Coast Guard.
"I thought it was such a good time to have this Coast Guard family show up just in the nick of time and I asked if the boys would be willing to place the ceremonial wreath during the opening ceremony, and they did a great job," recalls Nicole. "Just to see the next generation stepping up and people I didn't know going out of their way traveling through eight inches of snow to volunteer brought tears to my eyes as I watched them lay that wreath."
Nicole's whole family gets involved in the Wreaths Across America effort. Her mother who works full-time donated several hours last year hand-painting signs.
Nicole says she's thankful for those fellow Location Coordinators who have helped her and she's honored to provide the same support to those who might be thinking about starting a Wreaths Across America ceremony in their community cemetery.
As a former Mainer familiar with Rick Charette, Nicole was thrilled to learn this year's theme is I'm an American, Yes I Am!
Nicole says her goal in 2017 is to cover all of Fairview Cemetery and adding the historic Russian Brotherhood Cemetery as well and that her local Kiwanis Club and others have been supporting her efforts to make sure no one's forgotten in December.
Just as we did Judy Carlile, Charlotte Chism Waldrum and Diana Pitts Wreaths Across America gives Location Coordinator Nicole Pelletier a "high five" for her volunteer efforts to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach younger generations the value of freedom.
If you're in Nicole's neck of the woods in Massachusetts consider joining her team of hard-working volunteers, or show your respect through community service at Arlington National Cemetery or at any of our other 1,228 participating cemeteries throughout the country.