A Mission to Connect: Veteran Volunteers Mentor to At-Risk Youth

Daily Point of Light # 5970 Apr 3, 2017

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Tee Hanible, who was a Top 30 finalist for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Award in 2016. Each year L’Oreal Paris and Points of Light recognize and celebrate Women of Worth who make a beautiful difference in their communities. Ten honorees each receive a $10,000 grant to support their most cherished cause, and an online vote determines one honoree who will receive an additional $25,000 grant. Nominations for 2017 are now open! If you know a woman who works to create lasting and significant change in her community, nominate her to be one of the 2017 Women of Worth.

Operation Heroes Connect hosts an annual summer camp that serves more than 100 at-risk youth.

“I grew up as a foster child and was later adopted. I never truly fit in or knew who I was,” said Tee Hanible. “I’ve turned my pain into helping and inspiring young people to reach their full potential just as others helped me. The moral to this story is to never let your current pain consume you; use it as a platform to reach your greatest calling!”

Mother. Marine. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. Reality TV star. These are just a few words that describe decorated Gunnery Sergeant of Marines Tee Marie Hanible. But for at-risk children in the Washington, D.C., area, there is another word that comes to mind – hero.  

Campers at Operation Heroes Connect's summer camp work on art projects.

Hanible, recently retired from the Marine Corps after 19 years of service, is the founder of Operation Heroes Connect – a mentoring program established in 2011 that partners volunteer military service members and veterans with at-risk youth in the Washington, Maryland, and Virginia areas. These military mentors help young people explore and access support, resources and opportunities necessary for them to make positive choices in their lives. Many of the mentors, along with other service members, also volunteer as counselors at an annual free summer camp spearheaded by Operation Heros Connect, which supports more than 100 children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend such a program.

“Service members and veterans of Operation Heroes Connect can and want to answer the call to help mold and shape young lives in our community,” says Hanible. In addition to its youth programs, Operation Heroes Connect operates a 30 Days of Giving project benefitting the 700 homeless citizens in the Northern Virginia’s “Tent City”.

During the 30 Days of Giving project, Operation Heroes Connect hosts a dinner for the homeless citizens in Northern Virginia's "Tent City."

Hundreds of children have been impacted by Hanible’s extraordinary work. Young people have been able to reach beyond their current circumstances and pursue their dreams of completing high school, attending college, and being productive citizens in their own communities.

“Tee is a phenomenal person. She has opened doors for my son that I haven’t been able to, and she’s been able to provide parental and mentoring support when my work or school schedule got in the way,” said Candice Thomas, whose son participates the Operation Heroes Connect mentorship program. “The active duty and veteran military personnel really take time out of their busy lives to include the children as family. There is not a distance or length Tee and the Heroes won’t go to lend a helping hand.”

Do you know an incredible woman like Tee who’s making a difference in your community? Nominate her for a 2017 Women of Worth Award!

Jia Gayles