Founder of Help a Military Spouse Care Basket Campaign
If you’ve ever taken a look at the burdens that other people have to bear and want to do something to help, you will find you have much in common with Marybeth Henry, a Washington D.C. area woman who founded “Help a Military Spouse”, a campaign to send comforting care baskets to those whose spouses are serving overseas in the military.
Marybeth was born in 1971 in Midland, Michigan to Charles and Margaret Bash. When she was four years old, she moved to Walnut Creek, California and lived there with her family until June 1980. Her family was then transferred to (at the time West) Germany, to a small town called Stade in the north of the country and she attended the International School in Hamburg. In 1985 her family moved back to Midland where she finished high school. From there she moved to Washington, DC to attend Georgetown University in 1988 and she has lived in the Metro DC area ever since. She graduated in 1992 with a B.S. in Language Arts, majoring in French.
Marybeth has been involved in running a home-based business for over 7 years. When her daughter was 14 months old, Marybeth was involved in a New Moms support group. Since she, with the help of her husband, had set up her own small business, Marybeth asked the group moderator if she could do a presentation on “How to Start a Home-Based Business”. When she received the okay, Marybeth began collecting resources, including a list of moms who worked from home and could be a resource/mentor to moms who might want to start their own business. Out of that came the idea for a Home-Based Business Expo, with the focus on sharing business opportunities that might interest other moms. For this event Marybeth created the name WAHMfest with the corresponding site, www.WAHMfest.org Today, WAHMfest is spreading across the U.S. Feeling that WAHMfest should support other women through different forms of community service, Marybeth, through WAHMfest, has arranged such events as a Fashion Show to Fight Cancer, been a sponsor for the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter “Race for Shelter”, and most recently added the Help a Military Spouse Care Baskets campaign. When asked if her faith had anything to do with her serving others in this way Marybeth responded, “I’m a cradle Episcopalian,” she said. “My parent’s faith has always been a big part of our lives.”
At the end of 2003, with the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan) continuing with no end in sight, Marybeth started thinking about ways she could support the effort and the troops. It occurred to her that there was actually quite a bit being done to support soldiers, but she found herself concerned about the family that was left behind while the soldier was gone. Having been a “single mom” for three months while her husband was a way on a business project, she really appreciated what military spouses have to go through raising a family on their own. She decided to prepare small gift baskets (“care baskets”) that would let these military spouses know that we, the American people, appreciated THEIR sacrifices as well. She began looking for business sponsors for the baskets and sent them out to families who were nominated.
Nominations are taken from friends and/or family members for parents (predominately moms) who are at home while their spouse is overseas in the military. The organization then solicits business sponsorships to cover the cost of creating the baskets. As sponsorships come in, they create a basket and ship it out to the spouse with a letter explaining (s)he is receiving the care basket and a special note of encouragement or love (if the nominator chooses to add one).
Marybeth is not alone in this endeavor. “My office assistant, Shannon Rittenhouse, does a lot of the work involved with creating the baskets,” says Henry. Her other helpers are the sponsors of the baskets of whom she says, “Without sponsors, we couldn’t even create the baskets!”