USCG Moms, a Facebook group of all volunteers, raises money to pay for travel expenses for other moms to attend graduation from boot camp. For Karin Valentine, who is active in the USCG Moms Facebook group, her daughter's graduation ceremony was a moving experience, and she thought that every proud mom should be able to see her child make that rite of passage, regardless of money.
"I was so overwhelmed and impressed and proud. It was just an amazing experience," Valentine said. "We're super good at raising funds, but we can't find moms who need our help."
There are approximately 48 boot camp graduation ceremonies a year, according to Valentine. It stands to reason that there are moms out there who want to attend, but think they can't.
"No mom should miss graduation because of money," Valentine said. She added that the moms who receive help can be completely anonymous.
After people enlist in the Coast Guard, endure a grueling eight weeks of boot camp, and come out on the other side a full-fledged member of the service, they are treated to a graduation ceremony in Cape May, NJ, marking their transformation from a citizen to a defender of the homeland.
The USCG Moms are very successful at raising money, but have a hard time finding moms who need their help. Over the past year, since the group first formed, the Coast Guard Moms have sent 11 mothers to graduation in Cape May.
"We want to help more moms," Valentine said.
The USCG Moms raise money through their Facebook page, selling bracelets and key chains, and other crafts.
Besides sending moms to graduation, the USCG Moms serve as an unofficial support group where new Coast Guard mothers can ask questions and find people who have gone through the process of their child joining the service.
"It's really good for someone new, because we answer a lot of questions," Valentine said. "It's very scary for a mom, but we just bring them right along, because we've all done it."