Editor’s Note: The monthly Resource Spotlight is an Q&A that provides information about nonprofit organizations who serve military spouses and their families. The purpose is to connect military spouses with available resources designed to help them thrive in military life.
Name of your organization: InDependent
What’s the history of your organization?
The idea for InDependent was born at an organic cafe in Bamberg, Germany in the spring of 2013.
There was some grumbling on Facebook about how hard it is for military spouses to find meaningful employment and Kimberly Bacso responded by writing, “If we’re, so smart and talented, why don’t we build something for ourselves?” Meg Gotheridge and Leslie Brians showed up to Kimberly’s yoga class that night and said, “We’ve been talking about what you wrote and we have someone for you to meet.” That person was Michele Bradfield.
We made immediate plans for dinner, and knew right away that our common passion was health and wellness, and the need in our community was to help ourselves and other military spouses thrive in the face of the many challenges that military life throws our way. As we grew our idea, we added Joy Chalmers and Emira Wininger to the team. We launched In-Dependent.org in the fall of 2013. Shortly thereafter, we established a fiscal-sponsorship relationship with Public Health Foundation Enterprises which gives us nonprofit status.
We’re still pretty new, so we’re holding fast to our purpose of helping military spouses thrive. What’s evolving is our way of reaching out. We’ve established a blog and social media presence, and now we’re building ambassador-led communities at military installations where military spouses can meet up to socialize, work out, take cooking classes, and support each other. We’re also planning more interactive programs to get everyone involved and excited about prioritizing their health.
Please describe the mission of your organization: InDependent’s mission is to create a thriving community of military spouses that supports preventative wellness by inspiring each other to make health and fitness a priority.
What services does your organization offer?
Blog. Our blog is written mostly by military spouses, sharing their expertise about fitness, nutrition, stress relief, building relationships, and navigating military life. The blog was carefully designed to be a fresh oasis with beautiful graphics and photography, all in a friendly, down-to-earth tone.
Public social media. You can find us in all of the usual places sharing our content and events, as well as information from other sources that aligns with our values.
Private (drama free) Facebook groups. Despite the current trend of participating in fitness challenges with selfies on Instagram or posting transformation photos, we found that military spouses were kind of a quiet bunch when it came to publicly participating in a health and wellness forum.
So, we created closed Facebook groups for Nutrition, Fitness, and ambassador-led communities. These have been a huge hit! You can participate in challenges like giving up sugar for a period of time, or exercising for a certain amount each day, all with the support of people who are in the same boat, and without the watching eyes of everyone else.
We’ve recruited military spouse experts in both fitness and nutrition that are available to answer your questions which you can ask without embarrassment because it’s not out there for the whole world to see. And, it’s all done in a positive, supportive environment.
What makes these groups truly unique is that many groups have representation, from yoga to CrossFit and vegan to Paleo, and everything in between so you get a well-rounded perspective without the push of one agenda. Our active communities also each have their own group so members can interact among themselves and coordinate events. There’s something here for everybody!
In-person communities. We know it’s hard to pick up and move all the time and finding new friends and is one of the biggest challenges. We’ve recruited ambassadors that are especially friendly and good at bringing people together to organize events at your military installation, or general geographic location.
If you’re looking for an evening out with like-minded people, wanting to replace a running partner you left behind, or just looking for somebody who eats like you, this is a great place to start. Loneliness and isolation are common among military spouses and we want to help your find your tribe.
What population(s) do you serve (spouses, veterans, children)? Military spouses
How can NextGen MilSpouse readers support your organization? We need financial support and volunteers.
Despite having 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, we have yet to find significant sources of funding. Except for a little pocket change, everything you see has been done on a volunteer, out-of-pocket, word-of-mouth basis. We would love to do a major marketing campaign to help get word out about InDependent. Our big, hairy, audacious goal is to have a thriving ID community on every military installation worldwide. We also have some specific programs and events that we would like to provide to military spouses that will take funding to design and execute.
If anyone would like to contact us regarding program specifics, or to discuss financial support, you can email email@example.com for more information.
We run on volunteers, and there are few huge ways you can help:
Community ambassador. If you are a people-person with a knack for bringing people together in a positive way, talk to us about creating an ID community at your military installation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Blog contributor. There are a few ways you can help with the blog. Please email email@example.com if you’d like to contribute in the following ways:
- Write an article. Share anything that helps promote a healthy lifestyle, includ-ing recipes, menus, workouts, ways to connect with family and friends, stress relief, and military life specific themes. Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself to be a good writer. Kimberly, our editor-in-chief, can help your story shine. Your bio can include links to your websites and social media outlets.
- Be featured. Our Healthy Heroes are individuals that work in a health and wellness related field. Submit some photos, answer some questions, and Leslie, our creative director will put together an inspiring piece sharing your wisdom and ex-perience. Our whys are spouses that share their powerful stories about why they strive to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Take photos. We love beautiful photography, and rarely use stock photos. If you are a professional or talented amateur photographer, we would love for you to submit photos that we can pull from. We’re especially short on photos containing people. We always give photo credit to the photographer.
Fitness/Nutrition expert. Join our panel of experts in our fitness and nutrition groups to answer questions from the community, share resources, offer input, and lead challenges. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be included.
Anything else our readers need to know? What we do is for you. We’d love to have you as an active participant in our communities, both online and in person. Together we can make prioritizing our health and wellness fun and exciting so that we can all thrive.
And, please spread the word. We grow by word of mouth. Invite your friends to come to a community event, read our blog, join our online groups, or follow us on social media.
Finally, if you happen to know of an individual or organization with a heart for contributing to the health and wellness of military spouses, send them our way!
Does your nonprofit organization serve military spouses? Are you looking to spread the word?
Send an email to NextGen MilSpouse Content Editor Michelle Volkmann at michelle<at>msbnewmedia<dot>com to find out how your organization can be a future Resource Spotlight.