Saturday Spotlight – Nita Pennardt
Chapter: Southeast Region / Tampa, FL
Member Since: October 2015
Motto: “Spread joy, inspire hope.”
Why Did You Join Team RWB?
“As a recreational triathlete, I kept seeing the red Team RWB Eagle shirts at all my races. With a heart for veterans, including those in my family, the phrase “Enriching Veterans’ Lives” caught my attention. I eventually went online to check it out. At the time, there were 16 Team RWB staff members listed on the website. As I perused their bios, I was amazed at the incredible people leading the organization. Then I saw a job opening. With the notion that this could be a way for me to to help our nation’s veterans, and the certainty that I could learn a lot from the people I would work with, I applied. To my great fortune, I was hired as Financial Manger A/R and Director of Gratitude. As for the notion that I could help our veterans…well, now I can tell you I have gotten a thousand times more out of being part of this Team than I could ever hope to put into it. As for learning from the people I work with…I’ve learned so much more than I expected, much of it relating to what’s really important to the veterans I now serve.”
What has Been Your Favorite Event or Experience with Team RWB?
“In March 2016, I attended my first Eagle Leader Academy. One day, we went around the room, and everyone told their story. I was completely blown away and inspired by the courage, honesty, trust, and love that filled that room. That is my all-time favorite experience with Team RWB. It moved me in a powerful way and I will never forget that day.”
How do you serve your community?
“Team RWB is the most prominent “community” in my life. My job provides an avenue for me to fulfill my simple personal mission of bringing a smile or a moment of joy to someone’s life everyday. I do that by supporting and encouraging my teammates in any way I can. It’s different everyday but, it can be as simple as calling to check on someone I know is going through a difficult time. It’s important to note I can count on these same people to have my back no matter what. On behalf of Team RWB, I get to travel to chapters and facilitate safeTALK training for our leaders, members and members of their local communities. This training is designed to bring awareness to the realities of suicide and provide participants with a simple approach for keeping someone safe when they’re having thoughts of suicide. The goal is to promote open and honest conversation about suicide, thereby helping to make our communities more suicide safe.”
What Inspires You?
“I’m inspired by the members and people I work with at Team RWB. For example, imagine working side by side with someone who was blown up by an IED. Among other injuries, his back was broken and one leg was shattered. He spent many weeks being teated at Walter Reed Hospital and, many more weeks just learning to walk again. If you saw him today you would never suspect what happened to him. Unless you looked very closely, you wouldn’t see the rod in his leg. Instead, you see a super-strong and fit young man who stands tall and continues to serve his community. Instead of sitting around lamenting his misfortune, he chose to become the master of his fortune. Inch by inch, he clawed his way back to superior fitness. Now he kindly and skillfully coaches others. If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is.”
How has Team RWB impacted your life?
“Let me just put it this way. I’ve referred to what I do at Team RWB as my job but, it’s not a job, it’s a love affair. I’m well into the post-career phase of my life. I came out of retirement for the honor of becoming a Team RWB staff member. It is such a privilege and blessing to be able to develop relationships with so many people that I truly respect and admire. My life has been deeply enriched by the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met as part of this Team.”
What Would You Say to Someone Who is Thinking of Joining Team RWB?
“If people, passion, positivity, commitment, camaraderieand community sound good to you, check us out. If you want to do good and feel good, come join us. This is an inclusive organization with something for anyone who loves our nation’s veterans. Veteran, active duty or civilian, come experience it for yourself.”