Northern Costal Maine - For the 28th time this year Army Veteran and former US Ski Team Olympic Teams member Rob Powers, of Colorado found himself seeking out some of our nation’s most remotely stationed service members, this time in northern Maine.
He does it all to support our troops via a nonprofit that he founded in 2006 called American300.org
With a mission based on bringing individuals who have faced resilient moments of extraordinary proportion in life to military bases around the world and allowing guest mentors to share their personal life stories and learn what challenges our Service Members face, American300 Tours and Powers have been very busy over the past 9 years.
“It’s a ‘day in the life’ embedded guest mentoring program that has landed on just under 500 bases to date,” says Jesse Stewart, a retired US Army Ranger and wounded warrior, who adds, “I can tell you the program helps troops, because I was one of them.”
Stewart met Powers over in the middle east 6 years ago. Given the opportunity to meet and share with legendary Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter, Astronaut Sandy Magnus and Bart Yasso, America’s Mayor of Running ended up changing his life. Now medically retired from multiple combat wounds and working in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Stewart too packs up a go bag and travels with Powers to remote bases sharing his personal story of never quitting several times a year.
On this trip to remote stations in Maine, Powers is joined by his oldest daughter Gretchen who lives in Portland, Maine. Gretchen serves as a public affairs liaison alongside Mike Lane, the director of public relations for Steamboat Ski Resort in Steamboat Springs Colorado and Michael Collin director of public relations for PaleMorning Media’s Portland Maine office. Like Lane and Collin, Gretchen and her dad along with over 200 other ‘American300 Warriors’ are purely volunteers.
This weeks mission - meet the next group of Coast Guard Stations that the nonprofit will be supporting in the years to come. American300 focuses on units that allow for repeat engagements over the span of 2 years with a goal of 6-8 quarterly fashion visits as the goal.
“Dad started the nonprofit effort back in 2006 as a way to pay it forward for two amazing non-commissioned officers in his life who gave it all,” says Gretchen, who in her non-volunteer life is a professional photographer and videographer, adding “I’ve only gone out on 5 tours - visiting 21 bases so far... but we're starting to visit my home state Coasties now too and that's great.” she adds with a grin.
With millions of miles flown and 4-6 months a year living in barracks, tents and bunk rooms, Powers hosts different American300 guests who are able to touch the lives of thousands of service members around the world.
“We work with DoD leadership and place guests where they direct us, in most cases there are professional development funds that assist in covering basic associated costs,” says Stewart, who now serves as a board member and mentor, adding “in the case of the Coast Guard we utilize our own donor dollars because they just don’t have the budget to support this style of human dimension resiliency training.”
Coast Guard units came into the fold of programming 2 years ago when Powers and his advisors were discussing how much time they spend with: Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force service members and how little contact mentors where getting with the Coast Guard.
One email and a couple phone calls later and Powers with the blessing of his board were dialed in with Coast Guard leadership and had a tours lined up.
This year 8 of the nonprofits 35 tours will be US Coast Guard Station centric, so there’s a long road ahead to come anywhere near the nearly 500 visits that American300 has conducted with Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine units. “thankfully it’s not a competition and no one is keeping score, we’re all volunteers and Rob does his best to juggle the yearly schedule to accommodate as many requests as possible.” says Stewart.
With administrative costs averaging under 3.5 percent each year, and no sponsor or donor dollar obligations, American300 has positioned itself in a very unique category of military support non-government agency work. “I created the nonprofit to support our Chief of Staffs and all who they command around the world with a focus on the most remote and hardship deployed locations possible,” says Powers, “It’s a complete labor of love by volunteer Veterans and Patriots who want to see our current generation of warriors and lifesavers excel and be better in service and family life then those who came before them."
For more on American300 visit: www.American300.org