One of my favorite things about The Smile Project is the opportunity to meet and connect with other social entrepreneurs. Through a nonprofit Facebook group, I connected to Hope Bradley and Rebecca Hyde, the Founder and Co-Founder of Dependa Strong.
Without further ado, allow me to introduce their project!
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a ‘Happiness is..’
Hope and Rebecca: Happiness is different for everyone. You could ask 100 people this same question and you'd literally get 100 different answers. For us, happiness is to love and to be loved."
Liz: Tell me about Dependa Strong.
Hope and Rebecca: Dependa Strong is a non-profit founded by two close friends, in the same boat, fighting the same battle; Navy life. Encouraging and uplifting the military spouse community thru fitness, nutrition, education, resources, and advocacy is our main focus.
As a military community we deal with stress that most don't understand. This is a place to encourage and motivate one another to use that stress as a catalyst of growth both physically and mentally. Regardless of the branch of service, rank, or duty station, this is a place to share workouts, personal inspiration, local military events, and to be used as a sounding board for the events/topics that are affecting our military families. This is a place where everybody has a somebody!
Our newest initiative is a program called Semper Fortis. Semper Fortis Recruitment (which means "always strong") is a program designed to help bridge the gap between our military kids and collegiate athletic opportunities. Initially we hope to build relationships with current recruiting services, as they work to gauge the need and desire of the MilKid athletic community. In negotiating with these services, they will help them understand the unique situations that face the MilKids including frequent moves and team changes, overseas assignments, and financial limitations. Through these partnerships, they will provide considerable publicity of their commitment to the military community.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Hope and Rebecca: We want people to know they are not alone. No matter what situation you may be in, someone in our community is in the exact same one. Someone has dealt with the nightmares of PCSing alone. They have dealt with those 2-hour long conversations with Tri-Care just to hear that you aren't in the system and can't make a doctor’s appointment. Insane payday trips to the commissary are common among military spouses. We've all been there. Hopefully our organization can help someone on the verge of a breakdown see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Hope and Rebecca: Service is being unselfish. It's doing something for others without expecting anything in return. Giving someone a leg up when you can and continuously paying it forward.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Hope and Rebecca: People can join the Dependa Strong movement by sharing our vision with others. Spread the word that we aren't "just another spouse group!" We are determined to make a difference and chance the way dependents are viewed. People can follow us on Facebook, our official webpage, and Instagram.
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Hope and Rebecca: We look forward to the future of Dependa Strong. We are passionate about making a difference in the lives of our service families, and are committed to strengthening Americas military, one spouse at a time.
Liz: Do you have a favorite quote or piece of advice?
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
"Bloom where you are planted."