“Everyday someone new turns to us for a helping hand, be it for health care, veterans’ benefits, housing needs or employment assistance, with contributions such as the one received, it assures that those who courageously served our country will not ever be forgotten.” – Jack McManus, National President VVA, 11/2/2023 in a thank you letter to Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC
Since starting my business, it has been my genuine desire that I would provide the highest quality officiating and coaching services and that Chanelle Carlin Weddings would exemplify my continued commitment to community. After each wedding, I donate a portion of my fees to a not-for-pofit organization whose mission I support and whose financial dealings I feel are honorable and trustworthy. Over the past three years, Chanelle Carlin Weddings has donated thousands of dollars on behalf our couples to their chosen organization. One of those organizations is the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and I am mentioning them in this article because just this past week, I received a letter of thanks from their National President. Having worked for many years in the not-for-profit sector, I know how important every donation is and I also know that thank you letters are generally sent out to thank donors, let them kow how their donation will be used and to invite them to donate more. This wasn’t the first donation that Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC has sent to the VVA and we have always received a nice email and receipt in the past for our donations, but this is the first letter we received from them so I wanted to acknowledge it and tell you a little about the Vietnam Veterans of America and why they are one of the chosen organizations of Chanelle Carlin Weddings.
First, the VVA is the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. Although the war was declared finished in 1975, by the late 1970s, it was clear the established veterans groups in America had failed to make a priority of the issues of concern to Vietnam veterans and there were many. In January 1978, a small group of Vietnam veteran activists came to Washington, D.C., searching for allies to support the creation of an advocacy organization devoted exclusively to the needs of Vietnam veterans. VVA, initially known as the Council of Vietnam Veterans, began its work. Finally, in 1986, Congress recognized them with an official charter. Today, the VVA has a national membership of over 85,000, with over 650 chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Philippines dedicated to serving the needs of Vietnam veterans and those who serve our nation regardless of the war they fought in.
Second, in case you’re still curious about why I chose the VVA, it’s simple and relates directly back to my own life. My Dad, Fred is a Vietnam Veteran who served as a teenager like many others of his generation. In 1969, at the age of 19 (younger than my son and three of my nephews now), he was seriously wounded by a land mine. Many were killed. My father was thrown, and initially presumed dead, though thankfully he wasn’t. Dad suffered many physical and psychological traumas during this conflict, only some of which were the result of this accident. I have chosen to support this organization to support the efforts and healing of all Vietnam Veterans, their families and the Veterans who remain in harm’s way today. Their founding principle, of “never again will one generation of veterans abandon another” touches deep within my heart. The VVA members know what returning veterans face. They have been through it before and understand full well that despite all the heart felt “thank you for your service” comments, returning veterans will face major hurdles. It is their mission to make sure that those who serve our country receive the care and respect they have earned and I support that mission.
In case you’d like to learn more about the work of the Vietnam Veterans of America and how they help all veterans, I invite you to check out this YouTube video which I found on their website. It describes their history and current work far more effectively that I can in this short article.
Just for a little lighthearted fun after talking about such an important topic, here is a photo of teenage me as cadet in the Civil Air Patrol in the mid-1980’s. Taken by another cadet, we were “in the field” at our monthly search and rescue training program in Shelton, Washington. For those who don’t know, I grew up in a family that believes in military service and at that time I had grand plans to join the air force. While my life took another direction (many, in fact), I treasure the memories of this time in my life and also still hold the gratitude of all who have served in the military. See, the things you learn about your wedding officiant when you read their blog posts. 🙂
Now, back to the thank you letter…
I’d like to personally thank Ciara and Joshua DeLys for allowing me the honor of officiating their intimate wedding ceremony and also because it was their decision to choose the VVA as their preferred donation recipient.
Also, thanks to my dad for his service and to all other service men and women who have responded to the call of our nation and served bravely (even if you didn’t feel brave sometimes). It is never easy and no one ever knows what they’re signing up for or sacrificing. I am grateful to each of you.
As I mentioned above, the Vietnam Veterans of America is just one of the organizations that Chanelle Carlin Weddings donates to and they are the only national organization. Each of the other organizations is unique to the Pacific Northwest:
Camp Fire of Snohomish County – https://campfiresnoco.org/
Oregon Dachshund Rescue, Inc. – http://www.odr-inc.org/
KSPS – Public Television in Spokane – https://www.ksps.org/
KSER (90.7) – Everett – http://www.kser.org/
Washington Trails Association – https://www.wta.org/
I’ll highlight another organization in a separate blog post, but since we’re so close to Veteran’s Day AND I just received this lovely letter, I thought I would start with the Vietnam Veterans of America. I’ve included links to each of the other organizations website though in case you’d like to learn more about what they do as well.
If you’re ready to schedule your consultation to talk about your wedding OR how you can donate to one of these organizations, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to chat with you.
Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for Life. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, coach, and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC. Believing that life and love should be celebrated every minute, she collaborates with couples who’ve already started building the foundations of their relationship over the years and are now ready to venture forth into marriage with a custom, memorable (for all the right reasons) elopement/intimate wedding ceremony. While Chanelle works throughout the Pacific Northwest and Ireland primarily, she gladly travels to wherever her couples prefer to marry. As their Celebrant for Life, Chanelle also celebrates all the special milestones and moments that matter in each of her couples’ lives. She lives with her family in rural Okanogan County, Washington, USA, and totally LOVES her life. You can visit Chanelle at www.chanellecarlin.com, on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.