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Two years ago, Operation Gratitude formed the BRIDGE Council, an action-oriented coalition of Fortune 100 companies, nonprofit leaders, and civic partners, to bring together communities like Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore with the stated goal of building bridges and meaningful connections between our military, our police and fire departments, and the communities they serve.

A grassroots movement focused on volunteerism and community building, the Council has worked collaboratively to bridge the civilian-service divide through gratitude and engagement in dozens of cities nationwide.

The civilian-military and larger civilian-service divide will not be resolved in a conference room or from a podium in Washington D.C.. It will be bridged at the local level with actions that are focused on creating opportunities that build understanding and empathy on both sides of the divide. I have seen it firsthand in more than 30 communities that we brought together over the past two years. In each city, local volunteers left with a better understanding of service, and the First Responders carried on with renewed strength and felt closer to the citizens they protect. In many cases, civilians were inspired to interact more with those who serve; and the military installations, police departments, and fire stations took real steps to forge stronger bonds, inviting the volunteers back for family days, back to school projects and other community building events.

Kevin Schmiegel CEO, Operation Gratitude

OUR COMMITMENT

INCREASE
Increase the diverse representation and perspectives of the national BRIDGE Council to ensure the inclusion of experiences that speak to the challenges of racial injustice, discrimination, and policing.
CREATE
Create between 4 to 6 sub-Councils at the local level. Potential cities include: Los Angeles, Washington D.C, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Newark, Seattle, Nashville, Atlanta, and Chicago.
PROVIDE
Provide support to
any city that expresses an interest in planning and executing a
community-wide service project that helps to bridge divides and
unite communities.

PRESS RELEASES

 

September 8, 2020 – Community, Corporate and Civic Leaders Join Forces with Military, Veteran, and First Responder Advocates to Bridge the Civilian-Service Divide

 

September 11, 2018 Operation Gratitude Launches the BRIDGE Council

Since perhaps World War II, our country hasn’t faced a moment in its history when proactive citizen engagement was more essential.

Operation Gratitude has long sought to heal divides by connecting the protectors with the protected in a ‘safe space’ where they could not only freely engage with mutual respect, but also find common purpose.

Now that the stakes have risen much higher, so too must our involvement as citizens who support both our police and members of the community. This is why I joined the BRIDGE Council.

Sherman Gillums Retired Marine and Chief Advocacy Officer for AMVETS

BRIDGE COUNCIL MEMBERS

Jim Beamesderfer

Vice President
Inclusive Solutions and Veterans Initiative
Prudential Financial

Pat Burke

Executive Director
Washington, DC
Police Foundation

John Campbell

Senior Buyer
Target

David Casey

Chief Diversity Officer
CVS Health

Ry Colman

Manager
Customer & Community Engagement
Veterans United
Home Loans

Sherman Gillums

Chief Advocacy Officer
AMVETS

Meghann Glavin

Director of Global Impact
Starbucks

Jennifer Huggins

Director of Military
and Veterans Partnerships
Wizards of the Coast

Dan Kleinman

Senior Vice President
of Marketing
Deutsch Family
Wine & Spirits

Rob Lackman

former Chief Operating Officer
Gorilla Glue

Sean Lavin

Vice President of Mission
Liquid IV

Tim LeBel

President of Sales
Mars Wrigley

Altovise Love-Craighead

Inspector
Philadelphia Police Department

Kevin Schmiegel

Chief Executive Officer
Operation Gratitude

Shirley Anne Smith

Executive Director
Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation

Bryan Tucker

Vice President of Corporate Communications
CSX

I truly believe that a lack of positive interactions, understanding, and empathy are contributing factors to the divides that exist between our communities and police officers. We must do better for our communities and for our children. People on both sides are getting killed and this constant divide is getting wider and wider. We must build bridges and it starts with empathy and consideration for what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

Altovise Love-Craighead Inspector, Philadelphia Police Department

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Email us at info@operationgratitude.com.