Veterans helping veterans

 Web group photo

Dan and Laura Hawley, owners of Ambiance Design of  Blue Bell, Pa., a one-stop source for window treatments and home décor, donated $2,800 to the Montgomery County Community College’s  (MCCC) Foundation on Feb. 1 in support of MCCC’s veterans’ annual Mindfulness Retreat on the Appalachian Trail.

The Hawleys are Air Force veterans and are passionate about supporting causes that help veterans.  Every November, in honor of Veterans Day, Ambiance Design sets aside $100 from every client project sold that month to donate to a veterans’ organization.

“We like what Montgomery County Community College is doing to support veterans, so they have guidance and direction as they transition to civilian life,” said Dan Hawley, who knows from personal experience the challenges veterans face.

This year Ambiance Design chose the veterans at MCCC to support their annual three-day Mindfulness Retreat. During the retreat, they are encouraged to build relationships and challenge themselves through various activities such as meditation, hiking, yoga, journaling, and group discussions.  The retreat is instrumental in helping veterans reconnect with their community and campus, as they transition back to civilian life.

 MCCC offers a Psychology course specifically designed for veteran students, which is taught by Psychology Associate Professors Ann Marie Donohue and Deborah Greenspan. They also organize the retreat with MCCC’s Coordinator of Veterans Services Mike Brown.

 “Adjusting to life after the military can be difficult,” Brown said.We aim to make that transition a little bit smoother. One way we do that is by inviting our student veterans to an annual retreat along the Appalachian Trail. With Ambiance Design’s generous donation, we are now able to make that retreat a reality again for up to 20 students at the College.”

“Thank you for this gift,” said Bob Hartnett, a veteran who served in the U.S. Marines Corps and is the current president of the Student Veterans Organization. “We greatly appreciate your support. It means a lot to us to have the support of the local community and business leaders.”

“The College is unique in its support of veterans with its Veterans Resource Center, the retreat, veterans coordinator and other services,” Hartnett added.

  MCCC’s Veterans Resource Center provides services and assistance to veterans, service members, and spouse/dependents with their transition to college. Services include Veterans Administration (VA) work-study opportunities, Student Veteran Organization (SVO) meeting headquarters, Veteran Service Team (VST) meetings, a veteran lounge and computer area, assistance with VA educational benefits, VA educational certifying officials and general VA information.

The Center also facilitates workshops and other outreach to assist veterans with the transition to civilian life. Military Times recently recognized MCCC on its 2018 Best Colleges for Veterans list for MCCC’s ongoing support of veterans.