July-August 2011 | SALUTING OUR MILITARY

Staff Sergeant Steven Weatherston and his wife, Heidi
SALUTING OUR MILITARYSALUTING OUR MILITARYHome of the Brave Founder Tina PearsonSALUTING OUR MILITARYHome of the Brave Founder Tina Pearson

STYLE POINTS

SALUTING OUR MILITARY

Tina Pearson created Home of the Brave to help combat veterans make the transition back to family life

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

For many, Bible class is an effective means to develop or refine one’s spiritual self. But for Tina Pearson, it was even more than that: It was a call to action.

“I was helping out in my church’s Bible school,” said Pearson, “when the mother of one of the children was telling the story of her return home after having served in Iraq, stating how her son had barely remembered her and that it had taken about a month before he felt sufficiently comfortable and trusted her enough to go to her directly. After hearing that story, it occurred to me that there should be a place Stateside where soldiers could reunite with their families and spend quality, private time together to reacquaint themselves with each other. So I decided to create one.”

In the spring of 2010 — following what was an exhaustive research project that had the retail category manager at Perdue constantly on the phone or online for the better part of a year — Pearson founded Home of the Brave. Its mission is to provide free of charge a weeklong getaway for recent combat veterans and their families where they may reacclimate themselves to family life in a safe and private environment.

To do this, Pearson essentially evicted herself from her own home and spent both months and money converting it to a 2,500 sq. ft. handicapped-accessible facility with all the domestic amenities one could ask for. In addition to its high ceilings, plush teal carpeting and overall tasteful décor, there is a modern, fully stocked and spacious kitchen, a dining room with server, living room with two cushy sofas and a fireplace, and a large ramped deck with a barbecue grill, all in support of its two levels, three bedrooms (with a total of four beds) and three bathrooms. Books, videos and board games abound, as does the plot on which the home is set, a multi-hundred-acre farm in the backwoods of Berlin.

“[My husband] David and I stayed at the Home of the Brave in late-February, early-March, when he came back from a tour in Iraq, and I’m so glad we did,” said Jessica Hunt, who is herself in the military. “We needed time to get used to each other once again, free from all the commotion and distractions that tend to occur when someone first comes home from a combat zone. Tina Pearson’s kindness and generosity allowed David, me and the kids to reacquaint ourselves with each other and to prepare to rejoin the world as a family. I would definitely recommend Home of the Brave and already have many times.”

Pearson has arranged for additional complimentary amenities such as a swing set, bikes, free fishing trips and tickets to Shorebirds games, though she does not intend to stop there.

“The community has been so great and so supportive,” said Pearson. “They have donated things like original artwork, homemade quilts and various household supplies to the families that have come to stay with us, and I think those families are going to feel that community love in a very real way.”

Since the foundations of her charitable organization are now set, Pearson reports that she will be reaching out to the community for partner entities in the endeavor — partners like the Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police, which held its third annual “Poker Run” on May 14 to benefit Home of the Brave. She adds that monetary donations are welcome and always appreciated but that she’d also love the participation of area businesses that might be willing to donate products and/or services designed to maximize the combat veterans’ experiences while they are our guests on the Shore.


HOME OF THE BRAVE, 443-926-9962
www.TheHomeOfTheBrave.us



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