Spotlight on Service is a regular series highlighting those who spend their time giving back. I am drawn to people who operate in the spirit of service, and think it is important to take the time to acknowledge those who are doing wonderful things for our communities. There are so many positive things taking place in our world that deserve our attention. If you are interested in supporting great causes, or just want an inspiring story to make you smile, keep reading!
I first met Maria Reed when I moved to Savannah in 2011. I took a mid-year teaching job at a private school just outside of Ft Stewart that had a large number of military families both on staff and within their student body. One of those military wives was another teacher, Maria Reed.
From the day I met her, I knew Maria was a dynamic person. She was spearheading The Under Armour Finding Undeniable Challenge that year. She entered our tiny school with a small student body of 85 high school students – Yes 85 TOTAL 9-12th graders- from a tiny Christian school with an extremely modest budget. And the magic she was able to help achieve, with limited resources and a contagious and unwavering spirit, up against huge schools with plenty of drive, gave me the first glimpse into who Maria is as a person. She leads by example and pushes people around her to be the best version of themselves.
Her innovative ideas and relentless drive helped push our school to the Wild Card spot out of over 600 schools. They ended up taking 2nd place that year, and took first place the following year out of roughly 750 schools to win $140,000 worth of uniforms and equipment for our small neighborhood school. I got to experience first-hand that Maria Reed doesn’t do anything unless she takes it all the way!
Soon, as most military families do, the Reeds moved on to another base, and we said our goodbyes. But I have stayed in touch with my dear friend and had the opportunity to see all the amazing things she has done for military communities since she left. Maria has a servant’s heart and the leadership and drive of an absolute BOSS.
Made for TV
Maria headed to Ft Benning in Columbus Ga. and spread her magic there for a little while before settling in Ft Hood Texas with her family. In December of 2016, she began producing the Moving with the Military web series that does awesome home improvement and lifestyle projects for fellow military families who deserve to have their stories heard and have their families supported through the sacrifices, triumphs, and tribulations that are unique to military families. Her goal is to turn Military Housing into HOMES, but her service has gone far beyond this awesome venture.
Be The Change
In July of 2018, she co-created the My Ultimate PCS phone app for military families to have access to a planning app to help simplify major moves that military families have to make.
In 2019 She received the honor of becoming the Army Spouse of the year, and worked with military Spouses of the Year Samantha Gomolka and Jessica Manfre to start a Giving Tuesday Military initiative to spread 1,000,000 acts of Kindness by the international Giving Tuesday December 3rd. Giving Tuesday is generally a way for nonprofits to raise funds, but their push was not to get people to reach into their pockets, but to embrace acts of service beyond giving money. They encouraged people to get out in their communities and make a difference. They were featured on The Today Show and Kelly Clarkson with the message that there is no kind effort too small. Their initiative reached over 2.5 million views (and that’s a conservative estimate) on social media within a very small period of time, and the giving continues to date.
From this endeavor, a movement was born and, soon the Inspire Up foundation was created.
Collaboration to Inspire Up
The Inspire Up Foundation is her newest project, and the mission of the non-profit is to “inspire up a kinder and more giving world” and they promote opportunities to pay it forward in both military and civilian communities. She teamed up with her Military Spouse counterparts and the 2018 Coast Guard Spouse of the year, Stacy Bilodeau. Together, they give opportunities to pay it forward like their Spark and Inspire box that is a quarterly Subscription Box that they created along with Brittany Boccher’s Discover your Spark Program. They put together FREE boxes that are designed to encourage acts of service. A call to action in a box will be coming out in November.
I have loved following Maria’s Journey over the past decade. I can’t wait to see where she takes her talents next.
To learn more about any of these initiatives, follow Moving with the Military on Youtube and Facebook. The Inspire Up and Giving Tuesday Military facebook pages are linked here and here.
If you know somebody who deserves a spotlight on their service to communities? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org