The Susan M. Tillis Foundation is LKNConnect’s Outstanding Non-Profit for May 2020. We have learned where the inspiration for the foundation came from, how the foundation was born, and this week we learn more about its annual red, white, and bundled shower. — EH Stafford, Managing Editor
As you read this, the Susan M. Tillis Foundation (SMTF) would be hosting its 6th annual Red, White and Bundled Shower. Alas, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the many volunteers who would have traveled to Cornelius to prepare the mountains of diapers, blankets, and clothes for distribution to military families are sheltering safely at home.
However, because of the generosity of continued donations, the SMTF has the ability to ensure that the 1700 babies born this year at Womack Army Hospital at Ft. Bragg to junior military service members will receive a Baby Bundle (the name given to the basic layette given to each new mom in the hospital) despite the cancellation of our signature event.
Whom Do We Serve?
The SMTF is committed to serving the families of active military who have a rank of E-6 and below. These junior enlisted service members are non-commissioned and make as little as $1733/month. They work nights, weekends, and holidays with no overtime pay. They tend to be in their late teens or 20s. Many times the young wives are giving birth while their spouses are deployed overseas. They are often separated by great distances from their families and communities as well.
The Baby Bundle serves a two-fold purpose:
- to help provide basic necessities for the new family that they may not be able to afford.
- to help in some small way make the families feel like they are not alone during this special time.
How Many Babies?
For several days, the receptionist at the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), the administrator of the program, noticed a young service member walk into the lobby. “May I help you?” The young soldier stammered and finally admitted that he and his wife were having triplets and wondered if there were any programs in place that would help provide for their soon to be family of 5.
Shortly after the babies were born, Susan Tillis, Founder of SMTF, visited with the young couple and presented them with car seats, cribs, and cases upon cases of diapers.
Making a Difference
Some may think that receiving a small gift bag is insignificant. However, the notes SMTF receives from the new moms tell a different story. They tell us that the SMTF Baby Bundle was the only gift they received for their baby. Others write just to let us know how much it meant to be remembered.
No matter the family’s circumstances, it is an honor for the SMTF to give back to these families who give so much for our country.
For more information
Photos By James Piedad
Susan Tillis was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated with a degree in Marketing Management from Bentley College in Waltham, Ma. Susan and her family moved to North Carolina in 1998.
Susan began a successful career in real estate in 2005 where she is currently the branch leader for the Allen Tate Davidson office.
During her travels around the state, Susan began to realize that our military families needed help which led to the founding of the Susan M Tillis Foundation. Susan has been recognized for her community volunteer work, especially with the military with a Top Woman in Business award in the Charlotte region, the Allen Tate Community Service Award and the NC Serves Award for her work with military families and veterans. Susan continues to travel the state as a volunteer spokesperson, visiting and supporting the military, veterans and their families. During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially her first grandchild, Sawyer Marie.
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