Local Veterans Offer to “Pay-It-Forward”

NASA Education has been a topic of a number of articles on McHenry County Blog. Started by John Blanchard, the organization’s goal is get veterans in need back on their feet and into the mainstream of American life.

Twice a year the organization sponsors a Veterans Stand Down at Camp Algonquin. There’s one coming up March 9th and 10th at the YMCA facility. Details are here, including contact information for those wishing to volunteer.

Below is a press release about a new aspect of the program, Fresh Start participants’ volunteering to pay the local community back to show their appreciation.

Successful Local Non-Profit Company NASA Education Project Fresh Start Participants Gives Back To The Community

CRYSTAL LAKE – John Blanchard, executive director of NASA Education Corporation a 501(c)(3) nonprofit company, along with senior participants of it’s main program, Project Fresh Start attended the Crystal Lake City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 17th and presented the City of Crystal Lake’s Police Department and the Fire Department’s EMS division with monetary donations raised by the group as part of their pay-it-forward initiative.

Last Tuesday night’s City of Crystal Lake council meeting was the first of many presentations planned for the participants of Project Fresh Start. Mr. Blanchard presented Fire Chief James Moore, with a check to go towards their EMS division and participant Roger Burns presented Chief Dave Linder with a check.

In addition to their pay-it-forward initiative, each of the participants volunteer 10 hours a month at local shelters, organizations and other locations out in the private sector. Realizing where they have come from to their new found successes, they know first hand there are those individuals that haven’t been given the same opportunities and truly wanted to show their appreciation.

During their weekly group meetings, Mr. Blanchard, along with the participants discussed what they could do within the community to show their appreciation and willingness to give back; in recognition of NASA Education for its program and beliefs instilled by Mr. Blanchard for offering them a new lease on life and a fresh start.

A group decision was made that through their work assignments of yard work, snow shoveling, home maintenance and repair; a portion of the money received for those tasks be saved and donated throughout the community.

The unanimous decision started the pay-it-forward initiative. The participants are individuals who only months, weeks or in some cases days ago, didn’t know where to turn to for assistance and truly have so little of their own, still want to do something to show their appreciation and to also give them a purpose and something strive for.

NASA Education is a Crystal Lake-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization who’s main program, Project Fresh Start, offers a community and workforce reintegration program that includes free housing, transportation, and training for U.S. veterans who are newly returned, displaced, disabled, homeless or otherwise in transition.
For more information about NASA Education, please contact Amy Johnson at 866-338-4968 (866-EDU-4YOU) or

amy_johnson@nasaeducation.org or visit our website at www.nasaeducation.org.

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In the photo John Blanchard is talking to two of the volunteers at one of Camp Algonquin’s Stand Downs.


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