Members of the newly started Blue Star Mothers NEPA Chapter and the military personnel they represent include (above, from left) Tammy Jenkins (T.J. Jenkins – Army), Sandy Frisco (Ryan Cywinski – Marines), Crystal Bernosky (Jarod Bernosky – Marines), Megan Dunning (Trevor Dunning – Coast Guard), Tina Coolbaugh (Colton Coolbaugh – Marines), Lori Bishop (Alex Bishop – Marines), Colleen Ell (Ryan Ell – Air Force), and Krista Dymond (Matthew Dymond – Navy).
Photo and Story by Rick Hiduk
The Blue Star Mothers of America are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, and moms of active duty military men and women and veterans in Northeast Pennsylvania will soon have their own chapter. An organizational meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10 at 6 pm at the Warren Hotel on Warren Street in Tunkhannock.
Mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians in more than 200 chapters across the nation support each other and their children as part of this non-political, non-partisan, non-sectarian effort. Among the projects they pursue are the coordination of care packages and letters to members of the Armed Forces and hosting events for Gold Star Mothers and families, those who have lost sons and daughters in conflicts around the world.
“What I think is nice about it is the fact that they can rely on one another,” said Sylvia Repsher, whose grandson, T.J. Jenkins of Tunkhannock, is an Army Ranger at Fort Benning in Georgia. “It’s a supportive group. It’s people who have walked in the same shoes as others before them.”
“We are a support-through-service organization,” chapter co-founder Crystal Bernosky concurred. “And we need support.”
“It’s not like when your kids go to college,” said chapter co-founder Lori Bishop. She stumbled across a reference to Blue Star Mothers on Facebook and realized that the closest chapters in Pennsylvania are in Reading and Mechanicsburg. “I’m really hoping that people in the surrounding counties will get involved,” Bishop added.
Bernosky spoke of the sense of pride mothers of military personnel share, citing as evidence the flags and banners that adorn their homes; their red, white and blue flower beds and Christmas trees; and their attire. Even Bernosky’s fingernails are painted red, white, and blue, she noted proudly.
To officially establish the chapter as a 501(c)3 organization, the women had to establish a five-member board. Bishop will serve as its first president, Bernosky as VP, Colleen Ell as recording secretary, Krista Dymond as financial secretary, and Sandy Frisco as treasurer.
“We’ll all help each other,” said Bishop. “I don’t want anyone to feel burdened.” Next year, she noted, the group will officially nominate and elect board members. May is a great time to get everybody’s attention, she added, because it is National Military Appreciation Month.
The women have already gained a lot of momentum since shooting a couple messages back and forth to each other last week. “We just started on Saturday, and we’ve already doubled in membership,” Bishop remarked in reference to a brief gathering of four of the moms.
Bishop hopes that the group will make its first big splash marching in Tunkhannock’s Memorial Day parade on May 29. Group members also hope to start visiting recruiting stations with fliers and to sponsor a 5K Run this year to get their fundraising underway. The group is already established on Facebook at Blue Star Mothers of NEPA.
For more information, interested readers may call Bishop at 570-430-9997 or Bernoski at 570-240-1859 or send an email to email@example.com.