LEICESTER, Mass. — The Leicester-based nonprofit Project New Hope was awarded the 2012 Col. Robert E. Hawes Award for Community Service on Wednesday in recognition of its support of veterans and their families.
The award was given by US Family Health Plan at a ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base.
Named in honor of Robert E. Hawes, the award recognizes individuals or groups whose work is aligned with the missions of US Family Health Plan and Brighton Marine, to advance the health and well-being of military families.
Project New Hope’s mission would have closely matched Hawes’ vision of care for military families, said David Chicoine, senior vice president and plan CEO of US Family Health Plan.
The nonprofit provides weekend retreats and services for veterans and their families, giving them the opportunity to receive education, training and skills to manage their lives after wartime service. President Bill Moore, of Leicester, told the crowd at Wednesday’s event that Project New Hope is expanding throughout New England and will host a record number of retreats next year.
“Project New Hope provides a much-needed service to military families, helping them with the transition from deployment to home life. These retreats are a vital ingredient in the health and well-being of military families in New England,” Chicoine said.
Autumn Letendre, a Gold Star wife and up-and-coming singer and songwriter, was the featured guest. She described what life was like after “I married my Marine.” Sept. 11 occurred shortly after their wedding, so “We were together less than 90 days in the first three years of our marriage.”
When her husband was killed in action in 2006, she became aware of the importance of programs such as Project New Hope. Her song, "From Blue to Gold," is a reminder of the sacrifices made by military families. Letendre also gave special recognition to Project New Hope board member Tracy Vaillancourt, whose son was killed in action in 2006.
To learn more about Project New Hope, visit its website.