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Jeri Prophet Honored by Still Serving

By Industry News

Flagship and Military Newspaper honored Jeri Prophet at the 2012 Still Serving Military Retiree and Veteran Awards. The event recognized retired military and veterans, who made an impact in the Hampton Roads community.
The Flagship and Military Newspaper honored Jeri Prophet along with ten other honorees at the 2nd Annual Still Serving 2012 Military Retiree and Veteran Awards. The event held at Nauticus in Downtown Norfolk recognized eleven individuals, retired military and veterans, who made a significant impact in the Hampton Roads community and the lives of our men and women who have served the Military.

“I am very grateful to be honored as a Still Serving Award recipient because I feel it is my mission to help the veteran community whenever possible,” said Jeri Prophet, President/CEO of IntellecTechs a Virginia Beach based Information Technology company.

Jeri proudly served the U.S. Navy from 1992 to 2002 with numerous accomplishments, earning a reputation as a “top gun” Navy Information Technology and Training Professional. Using her passion and resources, Jeri has developed programs and services to enhance the lives of veteran men and women. She founded NowHiringVeterans.com, an online resource where veterans can search for jobs with top companies that are willing to hire highly qualified, eligible veterans and Wounded Warriors.

Ms. Prophet founded MOVIT (Mentoring Our Veterans Into Tomorrow), a mentorship program which secures suitable employment for Wounded Warriors/People with Significant Disabilities by partnering with state and federal contractors as well as commercial businesses.

Jeri founded IntellecTechs, in 2008, a full-service Information Technology company which specializes in networking, cybersecurity, repairs, custom computer builds, web design, programming and certification training. Their experienced engineers and technicians, provide comprehensive computer services to a variety of government, military, commercial and residential clients.

View the full article here.

The Dangers of Sexting

By Industry News

It should be no surprise that life is a lot different for girls in their tweens and teens than it was for us at their age. They may be too young to sign up for pole dancing, but many have been exposed to the exploits of idols such as Britney Spears since they were first climbing the jungle gym. Even if parents carefully regulate TV, DVDs, the Internet, and movies, young women have probably seen near-porno shots of the “girl next door,” easily available on their cell phones.

We don’t even have to be raising girls to be concerned. When I heard about eighteen-year-old Phillip Alpert who made it on the sex offenders list for sending a naked photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend (which she had taken of herself) to dozens of people, I realized how easily it could happen to my sons.

According to a survey of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 39% of teens who responded, send or post sexually suggestive messages, and 48% reported receiving such messages. As an IT professional and business leader for the past 19 years, I have to ask what are we not doing in our society to mentor to young women who will be hitting the job market in just a few years. When we hear it takes a village to raise a child, we better be sure we know who is in the village.

There is a prevailing attitude today accepting such practices as sexting—sending sexually-charged language in text messages—as a fairly normal activity for teens. If we are to accept this, we can expect more incidences such as teenager Jesse Logan who committed suicide after being harassed and ridiculed over her photos.

We have to remember that the Y Generation women in our offi ces were often the early adopters of a look-at-me-the-hottie culture. Today subtle, yet sexy suggestions shared on My Space pages can mean the difference between getting into the college of their choice or being selected for a job.

Sometimes it takes a personal experience to understand how dangerous technology can be. When my twelve-year-old niece came to live with me one summer, she had access to our computers during the daytime while I was working. Shortly after she returned home, my brother asked if I knew a D.C. phone number and if my niece had met anyone while she was in Virginia Beach. His daughter lied, saying she met a fifteen-year-old boy, but her friend across the street revealed that she talked to someone a lot online while playing poker.

After months of investigation, we discovered the “boy” was actually 40-something and employed with the Federal Aviation Committee. He had even bought an airline ticket for her. Nailing the impersonator was just half the challenge. Convincing my niece that her “boyfriend” was not fifteen took months and caused her a great deal of mistrust with her family.

So how do we battle a culture which demoralizes young ladies? Here are just a few tips I have used when teaching the course “What Children are Doing When No One is Watching…”

Know the threats to young girls today.
With city-wide activities, the Internet, and multiple entertainment venues, girls meet peers far beyond the neighborhood and their own schools. Today’s online gaming and gambling sites are used equally today by teen girls and boys. The psychological aspects of social networking (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and media such as You-tube) as to how many friends you have and what your fans think about you is just as dangerous as the time they spend on the computer.

Participate in technology at their level.
Rather than demand their passwords or take quick glances at the screen periodically (Remember, they are faster than you will ever be to hide what they don’t want you to see), set up your own account on MySpace and ask to be a friend. This gives you access to their page anytime.

Don’t assume anything.
Did you know you can learn to hack into a site on MySpace within minutes? That means the good, bad, and the ugly can learn everything about a teen whether it is factual information or not. That’s why I promote key logger programs which can capture every keystroke.

Encourage communications.
Too much knowledge is good! So often we don’t want to hear the language or broad ideas of young people because it doesn’t fit into our beliefs or interests. The more we can get our girls to talk about their day-to-day experiences and how they feel about them, the more we can share our viewpoints or, at least, encourage them to ask our opinions. Teenage girls need desperately to have trusted women they can talk to who may have a valuable perspective which is different or presented differently than what they hear from their peers.

Develop mentoring opportunities within your organization.
Teen girls need exposure to women who are successful and well liked without using their sexuality to get what they want and need. Developing values in venues other than MySpace, the neighborhood skating rink with its wide range of young adult influences, or the reality programs watched alone is critical for a society desperately needing to prepare young people for their futures.

Degrading activities such as sexting are not some modern version of spin-the-bottle. Technology does change our society and although it provides endless, positive opportunities, the wrong use can result in very serious consequences for tweens and teens as they become young women. You can help utilize your knowledge and skills as a mentor and make an incredible difference in the lives of today’s young women.

Jeri Prophet is founder and CEO of IntellecTechs, a company specializing in training, networking, hosting, security, and web design. She can be reached at j.prophet@IntellecTechs.com or 757-962-2487.

Selling on Facebook

By Industry News

Social media is more than just a way for old and new friends to connect. It is an inexpensive form of advertising for small businesses to softly promote their products and services.

The first step in promoting a business through social media is to make time to do it, said Janet Wagner, associate professor of marketing and director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland in College Park.

“This is a big issue for owners of a small business,” Wagner said. “They are pressed for time, but if they are really interested in growing their business, then they need to set aside time for this, even if it is just an hour a day.”

Kathryn Lively, manager of social media for Spider Writers, a division of web-design firm Ciniva Systems in Virginia Beach, recommended six steps for small businesses that want to connect with the public through social media:

Set up a Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube account.
“These are the top three,” Lively said. Within those websites, interlink the accounts for cross promotion.

Once the social-media accounts are established, they must be updated regularly. Keep things fresh by offering discounts and deals to Facebook fans, Twitter followers and YouTube visitors.

“People love free stuff,” said Stuart Chamberlain, web development specialist for Currituck County Visitors’ Bureau. The bureau’s Facebook page offers a monthly giveaway that spotlights businesses in the county. A local company recently donated two outdoor chairs to the giveaway program. The bureau presented the chairs to the first person who stopped in and mentioned that they saw the posting.

When promoting a giveaway, businesses should clearly explain that there is a limited quantity of the giveaway product, Chamberlain said.
Brag about your business. It’s important to post your company’s latest events and news, Lively said.
She suggested creating videos to showcase the business and its products or services.

“If it is a business such as a lawncare business or a building contractor, show before-and-after video of a project,” she said.

Chamberlain said he frequently uses YouTube to promote an upcoming event in the county.

Remember, your business needs to be prominent on Google and Yahoo. The more your site is linked, the higher you’ll appear on the results lists of those search engines.

To improve your odds, pepper the Internet with “link backs,” said Jeri Prophet, president of IntellecTechs, an IT company in Virginia Beach.

“Link backs are links to your website that make you seem more popular to Google,” she said. “If I go on Facebook and put a link to my website, or if I can get the people on Twitter to re-tweet my web address, that really helps.”
Write a blog and update daily, or at least several times a week. The blog does not need to be about the business, per se; it can be about the industry in general.

“For example, a contractor might want to write about what questions to ask of a prospective contractor and how to choose one,” Lively said.

Blogs frequently get top billing on Google’s results list for subjects searched, she said. That’s especially true if the blog was created with blogger.com, which is owned by Google. Other blog-making sites include wordpress.org, which is a personal publishing platform, and blogspot.com.

Once the blog is created on these websites, it can be promoted with Facebook and Twitter.
While creating new content regularly is good, Lively warned of putting out irrelevant information. “You don’t just want to shoot out information that is mundane, that will get you in trouble. People see that as spam and will avoid your business if you do so,” she said.
Be a fly on the wall.
Take time to comment on the Facebook walls of regular customers – without trying to make a sell.

Andrea Vela, marketing director for Abbitt Realty in Newport News, said many of its agents comment on clients’ walls just to keep the agency’s name fresh in their minds.

“In this area, with all the military and relocation, many people will use the same agent who sold them the house they now live in when they need to move. So many of our agents just keep in touch to keep their name out there for when the person is ready to move again,” Vela said.

“It is better than something like a postcard, which is easy to ignore and toss away,” she said.
Sell your products in a social-media marketplace.
Allow customers to buy your products on your Facebook page and the Internet.

“So many people buy online,” Lively said.

To encourage business, take advantage of buttons such as the “Like” button on Facebook.

“It is easy for people to just click the ‘Like’ button on their Facebook page and your business shows up on their page for their friends to see,” Lively said.

Social bookmarking is another good tool. Websites such as Digg.com and Stumbleupon.com both allow for businesses to be bookmarked. This will increase business because people will see it on their account, she said.
Choose quality over quantity. Don’t be concerned about how many people are listed on your site. For example, Lively said, it’s OK if you don’t have 1,000 Twitter followers or more; it’s more important to have meaningful content for followers who will patronize your business.

If you do receive unfavorable comments from a social-media user, Wagner suggests reacting in an unemotional and positive way.

“If someone posts they had a bad experience with your company, let them know you are really sorry and offer to fix it,” she said. “And be prepared that this could happen.” Online portal featuring additional small business news and information coming soon.>> All content produced under the direction of the news team of Inside Business.

How To Select An IT Vendor

By Industry News

Most businesses have struggled at least once every few years with scenarios that have wasted time and money, possibly even sabotaging business goals and customer relationships, by hiring the wrong IT vendors. Perhaps your brother’s recommendation panned out to have the wrong experience to support your IT needs. Or, you may have selected a vendor who gave unrealistically low estimates just to get a foot in the door and then presented reasons for additional budget, leaving the operations manager or CIO no choice but to sign the next invoice to save face or explain away why he was over budget. The reasons for selecting a particular IT vendor are numerous and may be based on the wrong assumptions. The results are often due to inadequate planning or lack of attention once the papers are signed.

Sometimes businesses just don’t have the processes in place internally to manage the contract when they decide to hire an IT vendor, leading to a disastrous relationship. Even before assessing an outsourcer’s capabilities, you need to accurately identify your current state and have a pretty good idea of the scope of the IT needs to be outsourced. This kind of due diligence will prevent the risk of poor performance, future disagreements and the cost and disruption of having to renegotiate or terminate the contract.

One of the most frequent scenarios I hear involves the handling of maintenance of the IT system, network, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or other services. According to an article on CIO.com titled Five Tips to Create a Recession-Proof ERP Vendor Strategy written by Thomas Wailgum, January 14, 2009, Forrester Research VP and principal analyst Ray Wang found that out of more than 400 customers, many spend $500,000 on maintenance but call support only five times annually. Obviously, the usage does not correlate to the cost.

Of course, responsibility for maintenance contracts should fall on both parties. I believe one of the first priorities for selecting the right IT vendor focuses on how well the vendor will handle the relationship. If you are not receiving regular reports and communications about the maintenance of your IT systems, don’t assume that your IT vendor is maintaining your assets and the applications which support your marketing, billing, human resources, and other critical components of your business. Will you receive regular information on security patches, notices on expired security or updates on backups to your system? Don’t assume these services, but these are the expectations you should have for your IT vendor.

If you are seeing your vendor’s IT technician once a month, you can be sure your vendor is not focused on preventive maintenance. Since most small and mid-sized companies have limited in-house IT resources, it is important to have a vendor who is focusing on what could happen to your network, systems, and equipment. Take a look around your office one day soon to see how much dust you can find around your computers. We have invested in a specialized electronics vacuum which we use for regularly scheduled visits to clean IT equipment, resulting in fewer repairs, replacements, and downtime. From something as simple as this to ongoing network maintenance, your IT vendor should provide measures which assist you to protect your business.

Here are a few additional considerations:
Check references thoroughly.
It is critical to know that the vendor has the capacity to carry out the work and that the company is financially stable to fulfill the contract. Ask references why they use this vendor, what are the best and worst aspects of dealing with the staff, and the longevity of the relationship. Always give the vendor’s clients a clear understanding of the specific services you are seeking so that they can provide quality feedback.
Understand IT credibility.
Often business owners have a misconception about IT certifications. For example, in the dental industry, there are specific software certifications for products like SoftDent or Dentrix. Vendors who invest all of their money, energy, and training in such certifications often do not hold certifications such as Microsoft, leaving the client without the assurance of proper configuration for firewalls, password protection, or numerous other IT applications. Be sure to ask vendors if they are a certified Microsoft provider. If you find someone who isn’t certified, there is a reason, and you should consider other vendors.
Ask information on staffing.
What is the number and job function of employees? Knowing that employees who will be on-call are trained in all areas of the services you need assures you of the responsiveness you may need during emergencies. Additionally, look for a vendor who can explain their processes for the 24/7/365 days they include in their brochures to make sure they have adequate staffing.
Determine whether security expertise is a core competency.
No longer do companies define business continuity in terms of days or even hours, but in terms of point-in-time backups and instant recoveries. One of the most frightening times in running a business when data is lost from a hard drive, a network goes down, or there is a breach of data security. The best way to avoid these situations is to be sure that the IT vendor you select has the capabilities to help prevent such issues. Your vendor should require you to have a network diagram as part of your disaster plan along with a frequently updated inventory of serial numbers, laptop serial numbers, PDAs and other equipment. We have had situations where we have wiped a phone in five minutes, along with immediately calling the phone company to lock the account, because we maintained accurate client information.

Even for services such as web site design and SEO be sure you hire a vendor who understands the impact of poor management on your site. If vendors do not keep you up-to-date on hackers and scams, you do not want to hire them. Even how your domain name is purchased and managed can allow you to maximize the benefits of having a site or unfortunately, jeopardize your ability to use this valuable marketing or customer management tool. Find a vendor who knows how to prevent your domain from being stolen by a cyber squatter. In order to control the botnets who search sites for email addresses make sure your pages are encrypted. Ensure that your SEO Company is not practicing black hat tactics; for example, placing text which is invisible to humans but may be seen by the search engine. This could make Google see your site as untrustworthy which would be counterintuitive to the mission.
Attention to training.
IT professionals can easily get complacent about training once they have been in business for several years which can be unforgiving in our ever changing industry. Find a vendor with technicians who are stellar in training clients, and preferably, offer not only individual, but team training courses on a regular basis. We have team auditing on each other frequently for every service we offer. Whatever checks and balances an IT vendor uses, be sure some sort of monitoring is evident.
These are just a few of the many aspects of hiring an IT vendor you should consider. Your due diligence will favor vendors who deliver value, quality, and predictability in the overall relationship.

Women In Business 2012 Award

By Industry News

Jeri Prophet, President of IntellecTechs, Inc. honored as one of Inside Business’ Women in Business 2012. Inside Business pays tribute to business women in Hampton Roads who have made an impact on the business community.
Jeri Prophet, President of IntellecTechs, Inc. has been honored as one of Inside Business magazine’s Women in Business for 2012. Every year, Inside Business pays special tribute to business women in the Hampton Roads area who have been successful in their careers and have made a significant impact on the business community, local economy and served as mentors to others.

“I am very delighted to be recognized among such amazing business women in Hampton Roads. I am also proud to be honored as a leader in the often male-dominated Information Technology industry and to serve as a role model for future female business leaders,” said Jeri Prophet. Receiving this recognition is very dear to Jeri’s personal mission – to guide the success of women in the workforce.

In 2008, Jeri Prophet founded IntellecTechs, a full-service Information Technology company headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia. IntellecTechs specializes in networking, cybersecurity, repairs, custom computer builds, web design, programming and certification training and testing. IntellecTechs’ highly-experienced engineers and technicians provide comprehensive computer services to a variety of government, military, commercial and residential clients.

Jeri Prophet, a US Navy veteran, has created programs and services to enhance the lives of veteran women and men. She founded MOVIT (Mentoring Our Veterans Into Tomorrow), a mentorship program which secures suitable employment for Wounded Warriors/People with Significant Disabilities; co-founded NowHiringVeterans.com, an online job site dedicated to helping veterans of the military find jobs from today’s top companies. In addition, Jeri is an active member of Executive Women International- Hampton Roads Chapter and uses her resources to offer free career improvement classes to local women re-entering the workforce. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Vetshouse, Inc. an organization serving homeless veterans in Hampton Roads.

Top Forty Under 40

By Industry News

Home and family Virginia Beach; fiancé and three children, two 15-year-olds and a 4-year-old.

Volunteer activities I have worked with Executive Women International’s Hampton Roads Chapter since 2004, first serving as sergeant-at-arms and presently serving my second term as treasurer. My team at IntellecTechs is in the early stages of developing a Web site that will mentor veterans back into the civilian workplace and/or help existing ones find jobs. I also provide seminars on different business topics to a large number of organizations.

How do you balance your time? It is not easy, that’s for sure. I have a great support system in place that allows me to be a mother, run a business, volunteer, attend school fulltime, write and exercise. I think the most important thing to do is to set limits and live in the now.

How do you choose your volunteer activities? I never turn down the chance to speak to a group of parents, no matter how small or how large. I want the public to be educated on both the benefits and dangers that information technology poses, especially where it concerns our children.

Advice for young people in the workforce Love what you do and never give up. Find someone to push you to your limits and help you grow. Remember to treat people the way you want to be treated and be careful not to burn bridges.

Your proudest accomplishment My children. They are wonderful. One of my sons spent the summer working with me, and I received great feedback. Also, growing the business to where we are at this point makes me very proud.

Professional goal in the next five years To grow the company and create jobs for Hampton Roads. I want this company to provide a workplace that people love to come to each day.

The biggest factor in your success My family has definitely been the biggest factor in my success. My father raised me in the business world in a little café in Colorado. My fiancé was the driving force in allowing me to make this huge leap into owning my own business. I could not have done this without the team we have here at IntellecTechs.

If you could change one thing about Hampton Roads I would have to say I would change the traffic. Sometimes it makes it a little rough to get where you need to be because it is so unpredictable.

Downtime My family and I love to watch the Carolina Tar Heels. One of my sons plans on attending UNC in a few years, so we are practicing.

What gets under your skin? People who think they cannot make a difference and say the words “cannot be done,” especially when it comes to technology. It can always be done, somehow or some way. We live in a technological age .

Jeri Prophet CEO, IntellecTechs Inc., Virginia Beach

By Industry News

INTELLECTECHS INC. is a products and services provider to commercial, local, state and federal government organizations with a focus on innovation.

IntellecTechs provides support to clients domestically and abroad.

Starting the company

I started IntellecTechs in 2008, with the encouragement of my husband.

Hardest part of launching the company

The hardest part of launching another company was the toll it would take on my family, especially my children. My eldest son sacrificed so much growing up while I was in the Navy and then while building my previous firms. His childhood was spent in server rooms and classrooms. His time was often spent loading servers right alongside me. In 2008, when my youngest was only four, we took a family vote and it was decided that everyone was willing to pitch in.

A lesson learned

There are some customers that you are never going to be able to please, so pass them along gracefully.

Risks taken

Associates thought I was foolish. The economy was bad and it was the worst possible time to start a business, but we were fortunate. We flourished.

Biggest obstacle overcome

The biggest obstacle I faced was the subtle bigotry of low expectation given to women in the technology industry.

What or who helped the most in establishing the business?

My family, Margaret Cave, my fellow veterans and my clients. Without their support, I couldn’t have done all of this. Our clients have been amazing. They have been instrumental in our establishment from day one. We started out with nothing and were able to grow to nearly 350 clients and it was all through referrals. Thanks to Margaret’s great customer service, we have been able to maintain them.

Other business partners

There have been so many business associates and professionals who have provided us with great advice, services and encouragement over these past five years. Most notable are TFA Benefits, The Frieden Agency, Stewart & Co., as well as Tonya Perkins at Old Point National Bank. The relationships we have fostered with them and so many others are invaluable.

Greatest innovation

I believe my greatest innovation was clearly the process changes put in place that allowed our team of geniuses, stars in their own right, to come together in a synergistic symphony of training, coding and design that allows IntellecTechs to provide its customers with what others simply cannot.

Company growth

The company has nearly doubled in both employees and revenue this year. We are in the process of building out our current location. This new 10,765-square-foot office space will include our new computer build center. Our workforce recently added 39 veterans this year, bringing our total prior military workforce to 44 veterans. The year has gotten off to a great start. Current data reflects IntellecTechs will experience a record growth of nearly 30 percent during the first half of the year alone.

Earning a profit

The company earned a profit after the first year in business and has been growing each year. Current figures indicate IntellecTechs will show a record profit again this year.

Future plans

Over the past few months, we have started penetrating into the federal government marketplace with some recent contract awards. We are starting to solidify our partnerships with successful federal contractors and are currently hiring in new markets. As an 8(a) certified by the SBA, service-disabled veteran and woman-owned business, we believe the opportunity for growth is significant.

Biggest challenge for the future

As technology changes, cyber security will continue to play a major role in what shapes our future not only as a company, but as a nation. We will continue to work in lock step with our clients not only to respond to support issues, but also to be proactive in identifying problems before they occur. We will continue to provide our customers with dependable and cost- effective IT services to support their daily operational and strategic growth needs.

 

Original story can be found on https://pilotonline.com/inside-business/special-reports/entrepreneurial-excellence/2014/jeri-prophet-ceo-intellectechs-inc-virginia-beach/article_36c3d717-8517-5a0f-a577-12ea0d37fa5b.html

USO Gives Thanks During Holiday Season

By Industry News

Navy Mobilization Processing Site (NMPS) hosted the 6th Annual Thanksgiving luncheon on Naval Station Norfolk Nov. 15.

The luncheon is an annual event for wounded warriors, hosted by the United Service Organization of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia (USOHRCV), a non-profit organization with a mission to enhance the quality of life of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

November has been designated as Warrior Care Month and this year, to expand the lunch celebration, USO combined efforts with various local businesses to help make the event more memorable for those who attend.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Mattie Hackney gives a Sailor cookies during an event sponsored by the United Services Organizations (USO) in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington returned to her forward operating port of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Nov. 22 after a nine-week patrol. George Washington is the Navy’s only full-time forward-deployed aircraft carrier ensuring security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox/Released)

“When I heard the USO was looking for donations for the lunch, it was a no brainer to call everyone I knew and say it’s time for us to do our part,”

said Jerri Prophet, CEO of Intellectechs and volunteer for the event.

More than 40 volunteers from the USO and the Hampton Roads community came out to help prepare and serve food for single Sailors who reside in the building, wounded warriors and service members who are rehabilitating or in a transient status and their caregivers at NMPS.

“It feels absolutely great to be a part of this,” Prophet said. “I’m always thankful for service members actively serving and those who have previously served, and however we can help, we absolutely want to.”

The event has grown tremendously from the first year, starting with only 60 wounded warriors coming out to take advantage of the home-cooked meal.

“We first started the lunch because of a group of individual augmentee’s (IA) were coming back from a year of being deployed from overseas and hadn’t seen a good Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings,” said Ann Morris, center director of NMPS, USO. “This year we anticipate between 200 and 400 personnel coming through today, and between 200 and 400 coming tomorrow for leftovers, just like home.”

For some, the lunch is more than just an annual event. The meaning behind it hits home and becomes an incentive to continue the USO lunch tradition.

“It’s something personal to me. When I was a military wife stationed in New York and my husband was out to sea away on deployment, there was a time I went through Thanksgiving without a dinner,” said Morris. “So it’s important to me for these guys who are away from home who don’t get a Thanksgiving dinner, to know that this for them.”

The food preparation for the lunch is a task all in itself, beginning days before the event actually takes place. Cooked turkeys, side fixings and baked goods made from scratch are all prepared in the kitchens of volunteers and brought in the day of the event.

Carol Beddard, a volunteer from St. John’s Lutheran Church and who they call the Cookie Lady, has been a part of the luncheon for five years and donates her time, as well as five to six dozen home-baked cookies, every Wednesday at the USO.

“It is my Wednesday today, and when I did not come yesterday, it felt strange.” said Beddard about coming to the USO on a Thursday. “It’s a part of my life and I love coming in and seeing the enjoyment from these Sailors.”

The event not only serves as a place where service members can come and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal during the holiday, but it also provides service members an opportunity to enhance camaraderie.

“This is so nice for the USO to do this for us,” said Engineman 2nd Class Wayne Carter, who is returning from an IA in Kuwait and transiting through NMPS on his way back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “It’s definitely a way to bring togetherness to those who are passing through the area like me.”

“It is a great idea and very well put together,” said Operation Specialist 2nd Class Denim Jarrell, who is also transiting through NMPS after an IA. “I’ve visited USO’s in other locations and they are always so helpful with their accommodations.”

Although the luncheon is only an annual event, what emerges from it is more than a once-a-year incentive for some.

“The interaction with these Sailors is so rewarding.” said Beddard. “The friendships I make here last a life time.”

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Molly A. Burgess, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic