Dear friends of SOWF,
We hope you and your loved ones are well. Welcome to the first edition of SOWFocus, our bi-monthly newsletter that will provide assorted timely information about SOWF and those we serve – surviving children and surviving spouses of Special Operations Forces lost in the line of duty, children of all Medal of Honor recipients and severely wounded, ill and injured Special Operations Personnel.
First, we would like to truly thank you for your continued loyalty through a challenging 2020. We certainly faced some adversity, but, based on your support, we ended on a very bright note and were thrilled regarding the outcome of our student success. 214 of our college students not only kept persevering but excelled in their educational pursuits. Over 40 students achieved a 3.5 or above GPA. Darian Thammarath, daughter of SGT Anibal Santiago, who lost his life in 2010 in Afghanistan, became our 400th college graduate – a landmark moment for SOWF. Darian successfully completed all required course work virtually and earned her degree in Marine Biology from the University of Tampa. In total, 25 of our students proved their resilience and graduated college in 2020. There were many other heartwarming stories, too, some of which we will share, along with 2021 updates, in future SOWFocus newsletters.
The families that we serve proved resilient as well. In 2020, Special Operations suffered 28 SOF Warrior fatalities, resulting in 61 children becoming eligible for our educational programs. With the inclusion of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, we added another 7 MoH families, with 16 children becoming eligible. A total of 77 new children became eligible for SOWF support in 2020. The Foundation’s provision of immediate financial aid to 43 severely wounded, ill, or injured Special Operations Personnel in 2020 provided each service member and family with significant relief during an especially uncertain economic environment.
I am proud of our SOWF staff, for their laser focus with respect to serving the Special Operations and MoH families with compassion and understanding throughout the pandemic. Looking ahead, you will hear me speak more to compassion. Truth is, it is at the heart of what we do and how we do it through the Scholarship and Family Outreach Directorate. I believe so strongly in compassion that we are considering adding it to our Foundation’s existing core values (Integrity, Stewardship & Commitment). The team worked diligently to address each family’s needs and constantly sought opportunities to help our students and families succeed. Our Resource Directorate continued to refine and professionalize our processes, ensuring fiscal responsibility and good stewardship of the resources entrusted to the Foundation. As SOWF continues to mature, our systems and processes build momentum. Our Development Directorate strove to innovate and continue to tell our story and expand our network through social media and non-traditional events to raise the money required to fulfill our promise to the over 966 children currently eligible for our educational programs. Our number of monthly donors has steadily increased, and we now have 26% more monthly, sustained donors than were previously involved in April, 2020.
We warmly serve our children, families and Special Operations Personnel service members through generous private donations, corporate giving, grants, outside foundation contributions and selected events that are permissible to occur. What could have been a depressed year, was not. In fact, with a 2020 fundraising goal of: $10,000,000, we exceeded our target, collectively raising $10,884,102. With your help, we will strive to raise even more in 2021.
With 966 children currently eligible for fully funded educations, it is imperative that we anticipate future funding requirements and be prepared to assist the children and families who will need our help.
Again, thank you for joining us on this important journey – we are truly appreciative of your interest and commitment and look forward to what we can accomplish together in 2021!