Nebraska Teenager Inspired to Help Military Families
Through the GreenCare for Troops Program
The power to make a difference in the life of a military family isn’t the sole province of an adult. Just ask GreenCare for Troops volunteer Ethan Gillespie of Papillion, Nebraska, outside of Omaha.
What moved the 14-year old to volunteer for the program? Gillespie told Project EverGreen his mom had seen a post on social media describing the GreenCare for Troops program, and they talked about how hard it would be for a military family to get things done around the house if one of the
parents was deployed.
“I decided that if I was able to help out a family while their mom or dad was serving our country, it was the right thing to do,” said Gillespie. “My family hasn’t had to make that sacrifice, so I thought it would be nice to help out another family that was giving up so much.”
The Nebraska teen also had an additional special motivation for volunteering. His close friend, Shane, never knew his dad since he was killed in action in Iraq the day Shane was born.
“Shane never got to meet his dad because he was brave enough to serve our country,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie says he and Shane mowed lawns with a rebuilt mower they purchased from their baseball coach this summer to raise money to help pay for their various sports. He thought that adding another lawn to his list wouldn’t be a problem and he was matched with a family with a deployed service member.
“Shane is such a good friend and all of the members of his family are very giving and care about other people,” said Gillespie. “They are always willing to help and I know that they would be the first to line up to help others.”
Danica Gillespie, Ethan’s mother, said she was not surprised that Ethan stepped up to the plate to help another family in need.
“Shane’s family means a lot to Ethan and their story has been a big influence on him,” said Danica. “I put myself in Shane’s mom’s position and wondered could I have gone through what they did.”
The younger Gillespie said his baseball team wore jerseys for a Memorial Day tournament that bore the name of a fallen soldier. The name on the back of his jersey was Shane’s dad.
How has helping a military family with their yardwork made Gillespie feel? He says it feels good to know that he is able to do something for a service member’s family that they might not have time to do themselves.
Gillespie lives close to Offutt Air Force Base and as is the case in areas surrounding major military installations military families with a loved one deployed have a thin support system when it comes to helping out with life’s daily to do list.
“I want them to feel like this is home while they are here and that the community appreciates what they are doing for our country,” added Ethan.
When asked what he would say to someone thinking about becoming a GreenCare for Troops volunteer, Gillespie said this.
“I don’t know what it is like to go very long without my mom and dad with me, and I think we should all lend a hand and help families in any way that we are able. Mowing a lawn seems like a very small job compared to what they are doing for me,” adds Gillespie.
His mother said Ethan’s willingness to give back makes her proud and it tells her he understands that the world is not all about him.
As we said at the beginning – a young man wise beyond his years.