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Every Day is a Day On: A Lifelong Volunteer

The Every Day is a Day On series spotlights volunteers at Operation Gratitude who are moved to action to support servicemen and women, their families, and first responders.

This week we feature Janet Goodhart, a volunteer from Rhode Island who has been with Operation Gratitude for two years. Janet primarily crochets hats and scarves, but she has also made hundreds of paracord bracelets and handwritten thank you cards, as well as donated beanie babies, blank greeting cards, and made financial donations in memory of her late husband, Bill.

Janet Goodhart began volunteering at Operation Gratitude two years ago when she was looking for additional places to donate her hand-crocheted items. She had recently moved to Rhode Island with her husband Bill, for whom she was a full-time caregiver. 

U.S. veteran and Operation Gratitude volunteer, Bill Goodheart.

Part of why I volunteer is to honor his service and that of all those who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.

The act of giving is central to who Janet is. She described volunteering and crafting as something that has saved her life and given her purpose. When Janet was young, she was a candy striper in a hospital and is now the chairwoman for her church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry. She continues to make an impact in hospitals, civic and business organizations, community centers, and churches. She passes her joy and creative passion onto others through her service and mentorship. 

According to Janet, “saying thank you and performing random acts of kindness are keys to a successful life.” This belief was instilled in her from a young age by her family, who are strong believers in “counting one’s blessings” and having a consistent “attitude of gratitude,” which Janet described as a source of her resilience and faith. 

Janet’s family has also given back through military service. Her husband, Bill, served in the Air Force during the Korean War and was a proud member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Her aunt and uncle on her mom’s side served in the Army during WWII, as well as her uncle on her dad’s side, who fought at Omaha Beach. 

“Part of why I volunteer is to honor his [Bill’s] service and that of all those who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms,” said Janet. She and her husband felt drawn to Operation Gratitude because of the organization’s mission to always say thank you to those who sacrifice so much to preserve our freedoms. 

Bill Goodhart was a large influence on Janet’s volunteerism. He loved to watch her crochet or make paracord bracelets, and even with his health issues at age 88, he would sign his name to thank you cards Janet had written. She is now driven to honor her late husband’s memory and lifelong service through hands-on volunteerism with Operation Gratitude. 

Operation Gratitude volunteer writes letters of appreciation to troops.

While attending weekly OG Zoom calls and classes, Janet has enjoyed learning new skills such as making fleece hats. These weekly groups, hosted by the Director of Handmade with Love Programs, Kelly South, provide the opportunity to talk, craft, and share ideas and tips. The Operation Gratitude community has provided Janet with friendships and support, especially meaningful to her after Bill passed away. 

I have made so many wonderful new friends, especially on Zoom, and I’ve learned so much from many talented people.

Janet Goodheart

Fellow Operation Gratitude volunteer and career Navy Veteran Lori Carroll, who met Janet last year during one of the weekly Zoom meetings, has become a close friend of Janet and said “I couldn’t have picked a better ‘sister’ if I’d tried.” Both women share similarities that brought them together, such as being full-time caregivers; making blankets and hats for Project Linus, and both donated baby hats and blankets to the NICU at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando. 

Handmade knit scarves and hats by volunteers.

“We’ve been there for each other; our own support group of two,” said Lori. “We’ve essentially fought all the same battles and it’s been wonderful for both of us to have someone who gets it, 100%. She was feeling lost and alone towards the end, and I couldn’t bear to have her feeling that way, so there were a lot of daily texts to check-in, with phone calls sprinkled in. We are both firmly rooted in our religious faiths and we keep each other in our daily thoughts and prayers… That’s serious business for us.”

Lori has described Janet as sweet and good-hearted–a nod to her last name–but fiercely determined and a force to be reckoned with, especially when it came to advocating for her husband.

To Janet, even the smallest form of volunteerism “can enormously impact and benefit both the giver and the receiver.” She added “I have made so many wonderful new friends, especially on Zoom, and I’ve learned so much from many talented people. Most importantly, Operation Gratitude never forgets to thank its volunteers for every little thing we do. That’s our mission in action every day, and I’m grateful to be able to help in any way that I can.” 

Handmade knit scarves and hats by volunteers.

She was recently able to attend an Assembly Day in Philadelphia and experienced the energy and gratitude from organizational leaders and fellow volunteers. Her goal as a lifelong volunteer is to participate in as many Assembly Days as possible and to become an Operation Gratitude Ambassador while continuing her passion for crocheting, letter writing, and making paracord bracelets.

Get involved with Operation Gratitude’s virtual volunteerism efforts today!

This post was written by Jake Kelly, a communications intern at Operation Gratitude. Jake is from the Chicago suburbs and is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut pursuing a Bachelor’s in Journalism & History with a minor in Political Science.

Read more in the Every Day is a Day On blog series.

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