Miguel Pilgram: A Man of Honor

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Miguel Pilgram Sistrunk Developer

Navy Veteran Wins 52 Million, Creates Company to Transform Sistrunk and Downtown Fort Lauderdale Areas

Fort Lauderdale, Florida– “I didn’t create it because I had to, I created it because I wanted to,” explained Miguel Pilgram of his eponymous real estate company, The Pilgram Group. Pilgram, who is developing a trio of properties in the Sistrunk and downtown areas of Fort Lauderdale, started his career in the military and served as a Petty Officer in the US Navy in Desert Storm. While serving, he learned the skill that would be the key to his success today, which, according to Pilgram, is to be “fully committed to what you are are doing, and don’t leave anything to chance.”

After the Navy, he put that knowledge to use working security in the casinos in the US and Asia. But he missed the travel the Navy afforded, so he jumped at the chance to work abroad for Star Cruises, a Chinese/Malaysian company. That job brought him to China, where he tackled Mandarin, traveled extensively, and learned the way business is conducted in Asia. In 2002, Star Cruises purchased Norwegian Cruise Lines. Pilgrim was tapped to assist in the handover of the global security/surveillance program. “Not only did I have years of experience, it really helped to have an American who had been successful working within the Chinese mindset,” Pilgram explains. “The Chinese are extraordinary in that they are always thinking like entrepreneurs. Even if they work a 9 – 5 job, they aspire to be the best…they own it. They act collectively by instinct, and never think twice about sacrificing personally for the greater good.”

He worked for NCL for a decade, becoming second in command of Global Security and Surveillance in 2007. “Since I was constantly on a plane,! I had time to noodle around with my 401K in the stock market a bit, and developed rigid parameters,” says Pilgrim. His systematic approach to picking stocks provided an exponential return on a small four-figure investment that enabled Pilgram to buy his first property.

But as good as he was at picking stocks, he turned out to be even better at picking lottery numbers, winning a $52 million jackpot in the Florida lottery back in 2010. He elected to take the lump sum of $29 million and eventually wound down his responsibilities with Norwegian Cruise Lines to focus full-time on The Pilgram Group. In business since 2010, TPG focuses on renovating commercial, residential and maritime real estate, mostly in the Fort Lauderdale area, and tapping opportunities that help the community. TPG’s first substantial project was a 16-unit residential property in Coral Springs, which was sold after 3 years for a 35% gain. In 2015, TPG created the New York Subs and Wings brand, and launched a food truck to support the brand while they ready a new space. One of the biggest projects to date was the renovation of a marina and residential property in Las Olas on Hendricks Isle…that is, until now.

Currently, Pilgram is placing his faith — and his money — in the Sistrunk and downtown areas of Fort Lauderdale. Sistrunk used to be the richest black community in the area and has a robust, exciting history. Then in the 1980’s, the neighborhood saw a downturn. “Now that it is enjoying a renaissance,” Pilgram asserts, “I am immensely proud to be a part of that.” His company recently purchased three properties in the downtown and Sistrunk areas, all to be renovated and re-purposed by the group. “We’re taking advantage of proximity to the courthouse complex by offering services that are sorely lacking in the neighborhood,” he adds. First to open in early summer 2017 will be an executive office workspace called The Pilgram Group Executive Offices at 111 SW 6th Street. Vast expanses of marble in warm tones and bleached hardwood floors contrast bright orange walls for a modern, but not cold, feeling. Offices are available to rent for 6 months or more, and all have access to high-end amenities such as a 16-seat conference room equipped with the latest video conferencing equipment, a receptionist, a kitchen and a high speed copier.

Next will be the new home of New York Subs and Wings, a “fast casual” restaurant in a former office building at 100 S.W. Sixth Street that will bring the same food from the previous Oakland Park restaurant. That building will also house a jazz lounge called NYSW Jazz Lounge which will feature both indoor and terrace seating, a bar menu, and a wide range of jazz styles, as well as spoken word performances and Sunday afternoon movies for local kids. “We’ll present all sorts of musicians but will always try to showcase local talent.” Both the restaurant and club are slated to open no later than Labor Day of 2017. When asked about future projects, Pilgram explains, “I’m always looking for properties that will fit the portfolio and lift up the community where I live and work!” In fact, The Pilgram group just closed on a property in Sistrunk at 1448 NW 6th Street, and sold a parcel at 100 SW 6th Street to a developer who intends to put up a 30-storey residential tower. According to Pilgram, that property was purchased for $800,000 and sold three years later for $2 million – but while he doesn’t mind playing “The Pilgram Group Monopoly” when he receives an offer he can’t refuse, his heart is in developing the area to meet the needs of the community, and in so doing, provide the higher tide that lifts all the area’s boats.

Many people ask why he still works, when he could be “living the life”. The answer comes easily to Pilgram, who brought his children and other relatives into the business with him. “I lived in a great place and drove a Benz before I won the lottery, thanks to hard work and discipline. Now that I have even more means, I feel a responsibility to give back, not only by helping my family through meaningful jobs, but also by creating a stronger, more vibrant a community.” He still works 12 – 14 hours per day, but does it happily, because he is seeing his vision come to life. “My family is a military family — my Dad was in Vietnam, my sister and I were in Desert Storm, my brother served in the Navy, and now my son is in the Navy — so the idea of discipline and service to something greater than yourself is in my DNA,” he asserts.” That’s why along with his business, Pilgram spends considerable time on charitable initiatives.

Not surprisingly, Pilgram’s community support mirrors his personal interests. Mission United is an organization that offers one-on-one mentoring to veterans, with a special focus on those who want to be self-employed. Because of the fond memories of how the YMCA taught him how to swim, he has been active with the Y and the Boys and Girls Club. “Writing checks is certainly part of it, but I love to become personally involved with the organizations that I support, and gladly give as much of my time as I can,” Pilgram says.

Pilgram signs his emails “A Man of Honor” and he truly is the embodiment of this sentiment. From his discipline in assembling real estate holdings, to his creativity in renovating/repurposing them, to his passion for helping those who need a hand, he is a unique force in the South Florida business world. “My goal is to leave a legacy,” he states, with typical succinctness. “I want to leave my ‘communities’ — both my family and the Sistrunk/downtown areas — stronger, happier and more vibrant than before.”

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Husband & Wife – Both Military Vets – Launch #1 Mobile Flooring Brand Together

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Lorrie, Lewis Willey stand posing in front of their Floor Coverings van in Colorado Springs, CO

When you are thrown a few curveballs in your working career, you sometimes have to take control of your own destiny, and that’s just what Lewis and Lorrie Willey did when they each decided to leave their jobs and make the most of their new life in Colorado Springs by becoming franchisees with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Both Lewis (U.S. Air Force) and Lorrie (U.S. Army) are veterans. Although the couple had spent many years living in Amarillo, Texas, Lewis had always said he would like to retire to Colorado Springs after having been stationed at the Air Force Academy and the couple frequently vacationed in the area. Working as a dialysis nurse, Lewis had the opportunity to relocate to Colorado Springs in 2017. They moved that fall and Lorrie had hoped to continue her executive career with a large insurance company by working remotely from Colorado Springs, but she “retired” after being unable to do so.

Complicating matters even more after their relocation, Lewis was asked to work at a clinic in Alamosa – a three-hour drive from Colorado Springs – several days each week. “He would drive down on Monday and drive back Wednesday or Thursday,” Lorrie said. “It was not what we had in mind when we moved to Colorado and it did not fit our lifestyle ideas. We started looking for other opportunities and got connected with a franchise broker. He showed us what a franchise could do for us in terms of working together to build a future in preparation for retirement down the road.”

Now the couple couldn’t be happier. Lewis had previous experience as a property claims adjuster and he’s been putting those skills to work as a Design Associate, visiting customers’ homes and advising them on appropriate flooring types for their needs. “His knowledge of housing materials, measuring and estimating made him a great fit for that role,” said Lorrie, who will be overseeing the office manager and project coordinator, as well as building community relationships and the Floor Coverings International brand.

In Floor Coverings International, the Willeys found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood.

“We assessed six different business models and decided that Floor Coverings International had the best business model, the best match for us in terms of utilizing our existing skill sets, and enough moving parts to really challenge us,” Lorrie said. “We also identified closely with their moral code of ethics, their customer service model and their community involvement with Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

How to Hire Veterans

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Woman shaking hands with recruiter

There are more than 21 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and many of these veterans have been trained on general as well as technical skills in their military careers.

From food service to technical support, the armed forces impart a great many skills on veterans, and employers reap the benefits of this training when they hire veterans.

Veterans are also very team oriented and have years of experience cooperating with their peers to meet objectives set by team leaders.

This article answers these questions and others you may have when you hire a veteran:

  • How do I hire veterans?
  • Where can I hire veterans?
  • Where do I post jobs to hire veterans?
  • How to find veterans to hire?
  • What are the benefits of hiring veterans?

 

Benefits of Hiring Veterans

While the main thought of many employers is “I want to hire a veteran,” other employers may be wondering more about the benefits of hiring a veteran.

We’ve talked about some of the benefits of hiring veterans, like experience working in teams, but there are hard cost benefits to hiring veterans, other than the experience that veterans have.

Here some of the most tangible benefits of hiring veterans:

  • Employers can get a tax credit of $5,600 for hiring eligible veterans and a $9,600 tax credit for hiring disabled veterans.
  • Veterans are trained on specific technical skills by the armed forces.
  • Veterans are trained in hundreds of general tasks while in the armed forces.
  • Veterans are trained to work cooperatively with their team and are loyal to these teams.
  • Veterans are able to receive support from their government in their education, reducing the cost of any continued education benefits your company offers.
  • Veterans are trained to use effective leadership techniques.

 

How to Find Veterans to Hire

When it comes to hiring veterans, many employers feel like they are in a situation like this:

“I want to hire a veteran, but I don’t know how to find veterans to hire or how to hire a vet.”

If you are wondering where to hire veterans, there are many resources offered to veterans to help them find jobs after they transition out of working for the armed forces.

Where to Post Jobs for Veterans

By advertising open positions on veteran-specific job boards, you can reach thousands of veterans in your area.

You can also use your Glassdoor Employer Profile to feature your commitment to hiring veterans badge, pro-veteran messaging, fun pictures of your employees and reviews from current and former veteran employees.

Another way to find veterans to hire is by using your company’s social media profiles to post about how you are a “veteran friendly employer.” You can also use pro-veteran hiring hashtags along with #jobs or #hiring, such as #vets, #veterans or #SOV (support our veterans) when posting links to your job descriptions on social media.

You can also contact local veteran support organizations and tell them that you are a veteran-friendly business. This way, you can generate local interest in your job opportunities and get a large, skilled demographic in your area engaged in working for your company.

How to Hire a Veteran

Hiring veterans is no different from hiring any other employee. Their time in the armed forces should be viewed like any other job on a resume, and interviewing them about this experience should be focused on exploring the skills they gained in this period.

When reviewing a veteran applicant’s experience, you can ask questions like these about the applicable skills they learned in the armed forces:

  • What technical skills were you trained in that you will use in this job?
  • How many years have you been using these skills?
  • Which soft skills did you learn in the armed forces that will help you do well in this job?
  • What other experience did you gain in the armed forces that will help you succeed in this job?

Their other professional experience should be covered as well, but don’t be intimidated when going over their time in the armed forces.

They gained an immense amount of experience in the armed forces, and to determine that they are a good hire, you will need to explore the professional experience and skills they developed.

Source: www.glassdoor.com

The Gary Sinise Foundation Changes Another Life: U.S. Army SPC Tyler Jeffries Receives New Smart Home with Tech from Nortek Security & Control

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Disabled veteran sitting in wheelchair in his smart home with disability access

Following in the footsteps of his Navy-veteran father and Air Force-veteran brother, Tyler Jeffries proudly enlisted in the U.S Army in January 2010. After two years of training with the Attack Company 2-1 Infantry Battalion in Ft. Lewis, Washington, Jeffries deployed to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province In April 2012 where, just six months later, in October 2012, Jeffries’ life changed forever when an improvised explosive device explosion took both of his legs.

For Jeffries, this was not a defeat, but merely a setback, and he took his first steps with prosthetic legs after just 44 days, following nearly 30 surgeries.

Jeffries’ story caught the attention of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program, which recognized his sacrifice and selected him to receive a new specially adapted smart home in North Carolina, complete with home automation, entertainment, and security technologies from Nortek Security & Control.

Brian Berg, Principal at electronics integration firm Interactive Interiors, designed and installed the home’s technology infrastructure and ELAN control system to provide Jeffries and his family with tools that simplify common household activities and give Tyler added freedom and independence.

“Thanks to the ELAN Control System in this specially-adapted home, SPC Jeffries can easily control lights, music, TV, security, door locks, surveillance, and window shades from anywhere in the home,” Berg said.

Using the simple, intuitive interface in the ELAN mobile app, two wall-mounted ELAN touch panels,RISE-smart home or one of four ELAN HR30 remotes, Jeffries and his family have total dominion over the electronic system in the home. Multiple TVs and several zones of multi-room audio can be turned on and controlled instantly, while property-wide Lutron lighting and motorized window shades are also just a touch away. The home’s climate is controlled with four ELAN thermostats creating distinct automated HVAC zones that can be adjusted right from the ELAN app.

“Tyler loves gaming, so he was really excited about the man cave we designed with a 75” TV and 7.1 surround sound system with SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers and a Sunfire subwoofer,” Berg said. “We added custom scenes based on their needs, such as lighting scenes for nighttime that automate multiple rooms and hallways through a single button, or a ‘Movie’ scene that automatically turns on the TV, selects a source, turns down the lights and lowers the motorized window shades. For Tyler, who is most often in a wheelchair while at home, this makes life more enjoyable and saves huge amounts of time for those daily tasks most people take for granted.”

The outdoor lighting is controlled as well, including a spot light on the large American flag in front of the home, and special pathway lights that emit bug spray on command through the ELAN app. The flagpole spotlight is programmed to turn on for morning and evening, and automatically turn off during daytime.

Security was a top concern for Jeffries, so having instant access to the home’s robust 2GIG security system and 10 ELAN surveillance cameras was a huge deal. Whether they are at home, at the grocery store, or halfway around the world, the family can easily view live feeds from the cameras in the ELAN mobile app and review video from the digital video recorder, all without leaving the ELAN app. Because the 2GIG security panel is fully integrated into the ELAN system, an “event” identified by a 2GIG sensor automatically alerts the surveillance system to display the appropriate video feed to the ELAN app. Three of the home’s doors feature electronic door locks that can be opened through the ELAN app, and the two garage doors are remotely accessible as well.

“They love the system,” Berg added, “and they frequently show it off when new people visit the house. It really delivers a much higher standard of living, allowing Tyler and his family to interact with their home in a more natural way that alleviates stress and provides greater comfort, convenience and peace of mind. We were thrilled to play a role in improving this hero’s life and provide modern technologies to give him greater self-sufficiency.”

With daily home life relying on integrated technologies, Interactive Interiors made sure to protect all the equipment with a Panamax M4315-PRO power conditioner and a Panamax MB1500 UPS. The power system includes BlueBOLT remote technology, so the integrator can schedule power cycles of log in remotely should a connected subsystem experience an issue. This expedites service calls and further simplifies reliable operation for the family.

The brain of the system is the ELAN gSC10 system controller, with four additional ELAN g1 controllers providing on-screen display and local control for four TVs. The surveillance system records to a 4TB ELAN NVR, while an ELAN 4K 4×4 matrix offers video distribution for centralized sources such as cable boxes and a Blu-ray player.

In addition to adding scenes and specialized automation, Berg also expects to install more surveillance cameras and potentially add voice control as another easy means of system management.

“Tyler loved that the system can grow and expand to do almost anything they want,” Berg said. “Whether that ends up being voice control, additional security or lighting, or more complex scenes that perform a host of functions from a single button, his ELAN system can do it all.”

About ELAN

ELAN, from Nortek Security & Control, develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada, and countries worldwide. The ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award. The new ELAN Intelligent Touch Panels add face recognition and voice control for a truly intelligent home experience. To learn more, visit www.elanhomesystems.com.

About Nortek Security & Control

Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed more than 5 million connected systems and over 25 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, Linear®, GoControl®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, security dealers, technology integrators and consumers.

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC has over 50 years of innovation and is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

Other brand names and product names mentioned herein may be the trademarks, tradenames, service marks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Family Fishing Trip for Father’s Day

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June 16 is Father’s Day, making it the perfect time to start planning a fun and memorable fishing trip for dad and/or grandpa. The Outdoor Foundation reports that around 46 million Americans participate in fishing.

Most fathers would be thrilled to be surprised with a special fishing trip weekend to celebrate the day in their honor. The good news is that planning a special fishing trip without dad knowing about it is not that difficult.

“It doesn’t get much better than surprising dad with a family fishing trip for Father’s Day,” explains Joe Pippins, creator and founder of The Fishing Caddy. “Not only will it be something he doesn’t expect, but it will be something he loves doing, and it will create some great family memories.”

When it comes to planning a special fishing trip for the holiday, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some tips to help create a perfect family fishing trip surprise:

  • Determine the perfect location. Try to surprise dad by taking him somewhere new. Ask around to get some suggestions on great fishing locations. Narrow down where you will go and decide if you want to make it a one-day fishing trip, where you will be back home that night, or if you want to stay the night in a hotel or campground.
  • Check the regulations. While the regulation part of fishing is no fun, it’s something you don’t want to slow you down once you get to your destination. Find out what the regulations are and what you will need to be able to enjoy your day.
  • Keep it simple. When things get complicated it takes some of the fun away. Strive for planning a stress free trip with an emphasis on fun. Ask the kids to pitch in and do all they can to share in helping to get everything ready for the trip.
  • Take a camera. Take a good camera with you, even if you have to borrow one, so that you can get some good pictures. Those pictures ca to create special keepsakes from the trip, including framing a picture for dad’s office or having a wallet size photo made that he can carry with him.
  • Leave the other electronics behind. Rather than keep faces staring at the phone, opt to have family members not take their devices. If you are not comfortable with that idea, designate an hour per day when they can be used, and have them be off limits the rest of the time. To make a memorable family fishing trip, people need to look up and enjoy the people they are with.
  • Gear up. You will need to take along basic fishing gear, but you can help make the process easier by taking The Fishing Caddy, which can be part of the surprise. Giving dad The Fishing Caddy for a Father’s Day gift will help ensure the trip is less stressful and he will enjoy it more, because it’s been designed for organization and to improve the anglers’ experience. The caddy is the world’ first all-in-one fishing system, offering a padded seat top or tackle box lid, a built-in cup holder, a life well for the fish caught, two rod holders, LED lights, and more. The water weight prevents it from tipping over, making a great piece of gear for sharing with a family that loves the outdoors.

“In addition to these things for creating a great fishing trip, you also need a great attitude,” added Pippins. “It’s hard to have a bad day when you are fishing. Start planning now and you can make this the best Father’s Day yet.”

The Fishing Caddy, which ranges in price from $69.95 to $129, was expertly designed for all types of fishing, and can be used by anglers of all ages. The organization system gives people everything they need for a great fishing experience. The fishing system has been designed to help make fishing more enjoyable, and give people more time to fish, rather than track down and organize their tackle and supplies. The Fishing Caddy is available online at Amazon, at select Scheels locations, Etsy, and at the company website: https://thefishingcaddy.com.

About The Fishing Caddy

The Fishing Caddy is the world’s first all-in-one fishing system. Created by Joe Pippins, the caddy offers anglers an easy and simplified way to head out fishing. Features on the caddy include two rod holders, a cup holder, live well for storing fish, tackle box, and a padded seat option. The Fishing Caddy is made in the USA and comes with a two-year warranty. For more information, visit the site at: https://thefishingcaddy.com.

Source:

The Outdoor Foundation. 2015 Special Report on Fishingtakemefishing.org/

Five Military Veterans Can Win Free Travel Agency Franchise

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Operation Vetrepreneur Winner and Navy Vet Christo Robinson

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (May 23, 2019) – Leading travel agency franchise Dream Vacations is recruiting military veterans to enlist in its eighth annual, award-winning “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” contest.

The number one franchise opportunity for veterans will be awarding five veterans a free franchise as part of the nationwide contest that since 2012, has given away 37 franchises valued at nearly half-a-million dollars. This year’s contest begins Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 24, 2019, and lasts through Saturday, August 31, 2019.

“It is because of those in the armed forces that Americans are able to live the American Dream, and at Dream Vacations one small way we show our gratitude is through our annual Operation Vetrepreneur contest which makes it easy for veterans to pursue the dream of small business ownership,” said Debbie Fiorino, senior vice president of Dream Vacations. “While veterans account for 14 percent of franchisees nationwide, at Dream Vacations they make up more than 30 percent of our network and are among our most successful franchisees.”

The Dream Vacations franchise contest is open to former members of any of the five branches of the U.S. military (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) who are retired, off active duty and/or honorably discharged prior to the contest start date. To participate, candidates must complete an online entry form and an introductory phone interview with a franchise development specialist. Candidates will be required to submit a candidate profile, business plan, video and resume. Finalists will be invited to participate in follow-up phone interviews before winners are selected. The entry form and all contest details can be found at www.OperationVetrepreneur.com.

Five winners will be notified in September 2019. Each grand prize is valued at $12,700 and includes a complimentary Dream Vacations franchise with a waived $9,800 initial start-up fee and monthly service fees. The new recruits will report for active duty in November, when they participate in a weeklong franchise training boot camp at Dream Vacations’ state-of-the-art world headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. Winners will be reimbursed up to $500 for their travel and provided with complimentary accommodations during the training program. Once training is completed, winners will be armed with all the tools and knowledge they need to begin their dream business creating dream vacations.

“Winning the contest last year has changed my life by allowing me to meet more than 11,000 new people this year and talk with them about living their dreams,” said Christo Robinson, Navy veteran and 2018 Operation Vetrepreneur winner in Buford, Ga. “The support staff from Dream Vacations has been with me every step of the way and I am excited to say that we have already achieved our next promotion level in only five months after completing training. This is truly an opportunity I think every military veteran should take advantage of because Dream Vacations is committed to your success.”

All military veterans and Gold Star families who purchase a Dream Vacations travel agency business receive an enlistment package valued at no less than $5,000 and ongoing support. They can select one of four perks currently being offered — $2,000 travel training credit; receive up to $7,000 back based on initial fee through the Earn Back promotion; waived administrative fees valued at $1,350; or a Microsoft® Surface Pro tablet valued at $1,000. They also receive a waived training fee for a business partner; veteran-themed marketing assets; and the ability to hire active-duty military spouses and veterans as associates at a discount. Additional veteran incentives include the ability to move residences and stay in business, LeisureCare Travel Insurance discounts for veterans, travel discounts for military customers and access to veteran networking groups.

As the only travel franchise to receive a 5 STAR ranking from the International Franchise Association’s VetFran initiative, Dream Vacations proudly supports military veterans and is consistently recognized by leading industry publications as a veteran-friendly franchise. Other national accolades include number one rankings by Military Times, Entrepreneur and Forbes. Additional recognitions include inclusion on G.I. Jobs annual “Hot Franchises for Veterans,” US Veterans magazine’s “Top Veteran-Friendly Companies” and USA Today’s “50 Top Franchises for Military Veterans.”

Military veterans who have a passion for travel and entrepreneurism who are interested in opening a Dream Vacations travel franchise and want to be considered as a candidate for Operation Vetrepreneur, please visit www.OperationVetrepreneur.com or call 888-249-8235.

About Dream Vacations

Travel agents with the top-ranked home-based travel agency franchise Dream Vacations have the resources to plan and create seamless vacation experiences for their customers while offering the best value. A member of the International Franchise Association, Dream Vacations is part of World Travel Holdings and has received partner of the year, a top-ranking status, by all the major cruise lines as well as national recognition for its support of military veterans. For more information about Dream Vacations, visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com. Like Dream Vacations on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DreamVacationsFranchise, follow on Twitter at @Dream_Franchise and watch its videos at http://www.youtube.com/DreamVacationsBusiness.

PHOTO: 2018 Operation Vetrepreneur Winner and Navy Veteran Christo Robinson. Photo Credit: www.TheLXA.com

Tee It Up for the Troops Donates 20th E-Z-GO Vehicle to Fisher House Foundation to Assist Disabled Veterans and Their Families

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Tee it up for troops logo

A golf car is a nice amenity on the golf course, but for families of veterans and active duty service members who are being treated at Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, golf cars are a valuable and needed mode of transportation.

With limited parking and specialized transportation needs, many veterans and their elderly family members are unable to make the journey around a VA hospital campus.

That’s why Tee It Up for the Troops, with their national headquarters in Burnsville, Minn., has partnered with Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, manufacturer of E-Z-GO vehicles, to donate customized vehicles to Fisher House, a foundation that provides comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay free of charge. Tee It Up for the Troops has donated a “battalion” of E-Z-GO vehicles to Fisher House facilities nationwide, with the recent 20th new ride delivered to the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System in California.

For the last seven years, Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, in partnership with E-Z-GO distributor Versatile Vehicles of Prior Lake, Minn., have delivered several vehicles a year to Fisher Houses across the nation. The first was delivered to the Augusta VA Medical Center in Georgia in 2012, with others reaching the East Coast’s Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, the West Coast’s Camp Pendleton in California, and midwestern Fisher Houses in Milwaukee, Wisc. and Minneapolis, Minn.

“Tee It Up for the Troops has been there for us and has provided a vehicle to every one of our houses on a VA property that has needed one,” said Brian Gawne, Vice President of Community Relations for Fisher House Foundation. “Parking and getting around on a VA campus is always a challenge, and some families are not mobile. Thanks to Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, these cars are a godsend when families are facing a tough medical crisis.”

“Recently we had a veteran discharged from the hospital after kidney removal surgery and it would have been extremely painful for him to bend into a vehicle to get back to Fisher House,” said Jenny Hall, Manager of the Alaska Fisher House. “The golf car allowed him to easily slide in and out at a comfortable height with minimal pain.”

“It’s great teaming up with E-Z-GO and working together to make our heroes’ lives better,” said Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director for Tee It Up for the Troops. “I truly believe our veterans and their families are entitled to be taken care of, and donating these vehicles is just one way we do that.”

Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted 500 fundraising events in over 40 states over the last 15 years, allowing the non-profit organization to donate over $10 million to military service organizations that provide critically needed services to combat veterans and their families.

“Electric shuttles that are quiet and efficient can take a whole family or injured warfighter from a Fisher House around the campus to receive therapy or see a doctor,” said Brandon Haddock, Director, Communications at Textron Specialized Vehicles. “The vehicles can traverse facility paths, parking lots, and even into the entry of a VA hospital. It’s great to see how excited people are about the shuttles and to give the veterans something they really need.”

“These stretch electric shuttles, which can comfortably accommodate six passengers, are customized with many added features for the comfort and safety of veterans,” said Gaby Accad, owner of Versatile Vehicles, whose distributorship customizes many of the Fisher House vehicles. Additions include safety lights, turn signals, a rear seat that can convert to a flatbed to carry a wheelchair or other equipment, and a retractable windshield to block wind and rain.

Accad works with local companies to donate custom features, including red, white and blue premium seats embroidered with the Tee It Up for the Troops logo, decals that are applied to the custom-painted cars, and shipping of the cars at donated or reduced rates to their destination.

“What this country has provided to me, it’s the least I can do for our soldiers who put their lives on the line for us to enjoy our freedom and the things we cherish in this country,” Accad said.

Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO first learned of the need for a small, efficient vehicle to transport wounded warriors in 2011, when they shipped a vehicle to a military base in Afghanistan to help move soldiers to field hospitals and to get those recovering from injuries around the base. From there, the need to meet increased demands for transport of returning service members with disabilities and their families escalated stateside.

“This is just a continuation of our support for veterans who do incredible things for our country,” Wegscheid said of the vehicles.

About Tee It Up for The Troops

Tee It Up for the Troops, Inc, is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves U.S. military veterans and their families.  Based in Minnesota, Tee it Up for the Troops inspires communities across the country to organize golf events to raise funds for partnering veterans service organizations who deliver critically needed services to military families.  These locally-supported events greatly assist returning service members to successfully reintegrate into their communities.  Established in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted over 475 events in more than 40 states and has donated over $10 million to more than 335 various organizations serving veterans across the country.  In addition, through their REUNION initiative, Tee It Up for the Troops has reunited more than 300 combat altered veterans who were separated due to battlefield injuries or changes in rehabilitation status.  Through these reunions, participating veterans enhance their transition process into productive and fulfilling civilian lifestyles. For more information visit: teeitupforthetroops.org.

About E-Z-GO
E-Z-GO is an iconic, world-renowned brand in golf cars and personal transportation vehicles. Products sold under the
E-Z-GO brand include RXV® and TXT® fleet golf cars, Freedom® RXV and Freedom TXT personal golf cars, E-Z-GO Express™ personal utility vehicles, and the 2Five® street-legal low-speed vehicle. Known for innovation in electric-vehicle technology, E-Z-GO’s newest offerings include the ELiTE series of lithium-ion powered golf cars and PTVs. Founded in 1954 in Augusta, Ga., E-Z-GO became part of Textron Inc. in 1960, and today operates as part of the company’s Textron Specialized Vehicles division.

About Textron Inc.

Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. For more information visit: textron.com.

About Fisher House

Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of 82 comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.  These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital it serves. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths.  Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room.  Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee.  Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $451 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. For more information visit: fisherhouse.org.

It’s Life or Death for a Puppy in the Middle East

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Bucky with soldier stationed in the Middle East

May is Military Appreciation Month.  What better way to wrap up the month, then by helping our heroes overseas? Morale can be tough to keep when you are a soldier stationed in the Middle East.

Each day brings challenges and often despair. For one soldier and his crew stationed in Kuwait, that all changed when one, tiny puppy entered their camp.

Before the tiny stray made his way into the life of 21-year-old SPC Dakota J. Campbell and his crewmembers, morale was at an all time low. Then one day, the soldiers witnessed a puppy run by their site, being chased by a larger dog. The men proceeded to scare off the dog, and the puppy scurried to hide and got his self stuck in a cement barrier.

As the soldiers saved the puppy from near death, it didn’t take long before they realized that the puppy actually saved them. They named this little guy Bucky and he lifted their spirits, gave them hope, and helped inspire them each day. With Bucky around, they felt a sense of home.

“We can only imagine the difficulty these soldiers in war torn areas face on a daily basis,” explains Robert Misseri of Paws of War. “The fact that this dog helped our heroes get through some of the darkest days in their life is testament to the abilities of a dog. We must try to get Bucky to the United States.  It is the least we can do for SPC Campbell and the crew.”

Now Campbell is heading back to the states, where he will be stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. Rather than leave Bucky in Kuwait, where his fate would be certain death as a street dog, he is reaching out to us all to get Bucky to America, where he can live his life in security and peace with SPC Campbell, and they can both have a genuine, true sense of home.

“Bucky may have saved us, but I can’t bear to leave him behind, it’s time for me to once again save him,” added Campbell. “I have one dog at home, which is like my only son, and I can’t wait for Bucky to meet him. It will be a dream come true for me to be able to bring Bucky to Texas.”

Bringing a dog back to America from the Middle East is no easy task, and it’s a costly process. Paws of War is supported solely by donations and has helped numerous soldiers to bring their rescued dogs back from the Middle East. To help make the mission possible, they are asking everyone to pitch in and thank this Army team for protecting our freedom by donating toward Bucky’s journey to the U.S. Every dollar makes a difference.  To learn more about Campbell and Bucky’s story and to make a donation, log online: pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/saving-bucky.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs to be service dogs, and provides therapy dogs to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or make a donation visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

A Salute To Paul Davis Restoration Franchisee And Marine, Chris Waddell

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Chris Waddell walking out of his mobile restoration unit

Paul Davis Restoration salutes Chris Waddell, Marine Corp. veteran and owner of Paul Davis of Northwest Kentucky located at 1030 Amiet Road in Henderson.

Prior to becoming a franchisee, Waddell was the operations manager for the Paul Davis office in Evansville, Indiana. He began his restoration career as a water mitigation technician in 1998 after his honorable discharge from the Marine Corp.

“My father worked for the company’s Louisville office during the 1980s before becoming a franchisee himself in 1985,” he said. “I’ve been around Paul Davis and its great business model since about the age of seven, “Waddell laughed. “I helped when I could and accompanied my Dad to work sometimes as a kid so it seemed a natural fit to work for him at his Evansville office after my military service.  I developed the water mitigation program there and was the lead water technician for nearly 10 years before moving into an associate position.”

Waddell and Paul Davis team members hold a myriad of certifications from The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration and Certification (IICRC) and many other qualifications in the restoration industry.

Paul Davis is a leading provider of fire, water, mold, and storm damage restoration, reconstruction and remodeling services along with large loss response and contents cleaning for residential and commercial properties.

Visit at https://northwest-kentucky.pauldavis.com/.

About Paul Davis Restoration

For more than 50 years, Paul Davis Restorations Inc. has restored residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms and disasters. The experts at Paul Davis understand the complex process of recovering from property damage and provide complete services; there is no need for the expense and confusion of hiring multiple contractors. Paul Davis is a one-stop shop for disaster damage and restoration. Paul Davis Restoration has more than 300 independently owned franchises in the United States and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction and remodeling. For more information, visit the company website at www.pauldavis.com.

Online Recruitment Platform to Connect Workers with Disabilities to Rewarding Careers

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The ISABLED Virtual Career Fair platform makes it easier to connect recruiters from leading companies and high-impact professionals with disabilities. There are currently more jobs in the U.S than available workers to fill them, and companies are forced to explore more options to find talent to hire to help them grow their business.

Workers with different abilities (often referred to as workers with disabilities) are just one example of highly-skilled, but untapped segments of the population that more and more leading companies are seeking to recruit.

ISABLED, an online recruiting platform connects workers that identify as having a disability, with recruiters from leading companies who value inclusion and diversity in their workforce. The ISABLED platform allows job seekers and recruiters to connect and chat in real-time, from anywhere, and from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

” The ISABLED Virtual Career Fairs are a fun and easy way to connect recruiters and job seekers with disabilities. Instead of asking both sides to attend a job fair at a physical location, we bring the career fair to them. The ISABLED platform allows our employer partners to recruit nationwide in just a few hours, and job seekers have instant access to the very recruiters who are seeking to fill the open positions” Stated Kevin O’Brien, Managing Partner, ISABLED.

The ISABLED website will include content to connect workers with disabilities to job opportunities from a wide range of companies and industries. The website will include a job board and a virtual career fair platform. ISABLED will host 4 virtual career fairs each year, and companies can host standalone virtual career fairs for their company as often as they like.

The first ISABLED virtual career fair is set for July 25, 2019, and open now for registration.

About ISABLED:

ISABLED, a division of Astound Virtual has a laser-focus on connecting industry-leading companies with workers people with disabilities who seek employment. Through the ISABLED Recruitment Center (IRC), job seekers and recruiters meet and interact, in real-time, but from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

Lowe’s announces new partnerships with military organizations

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Lowe's building sign with a flag in the background

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, Lowe’s is pleased to announce three partnerships allowing for deeper relationships with the military community nationwide.

Each partner, including the United Service Organizations (USO), American Veterans (AMVETS) and Operation FINALLY HOME, now connects military to Lowe’s resources from workforce training to affordable housing for veterans and more.

“Lowe’s commitment to the military is longstanding and partnerships with these organizations allow us to form stronger connections with the military community,” said Joe McFarland, U.S. Marines veteran and Lowe’s executive vice president of stores. “We look forward to working closely with each organization to serve the military community through programs focused on safe, affordable housing and transitioning military into dynamic careers.”

Partners and details include:

The USO is known as the Force Behind the Forces® and strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation. Lowe’s national partnership with the USO will support military spouse programming and the USO’s Pathfinder® program, which offers a network of resources and personalized support throughout all aspects of transition during their military careers.

“The USO is honored to partner with Lowe’s to offer service members and military spouses interactive workshops and networking opportunities designed to help them land apprenticeships and jobs in the skilled trades,” said Lisa Anastasi, USO Chief Development and Marketing Officer. “Together, we will connect them to the training and support they need to thrive in these career fields while navigating the frequent transitions of military life.”

AMVETS is the nation’s most inclusive congressionally-chartered veterans service organization representing the interests of 20 million veterans.

Lowe’s partnership contributes scholarships and workforce training, helping veterans transition from military service to employment nationwide.

“With Lowe’s, we’re looking to close the gap and offer scholarships and programs that place the military in highly-trained positions,” shares Rege Riley, national commander at AMVETS. “Through this effort, we plan on reaching 3 million individuals across our military channels.”

Operation FINALLY HOME provides custom-built, mortgage-free homes and home modifications to wounded, ill and injured veterans and the widows of the fallen from all branches of the military. Lowe’s current partnership contributes home building and modification support to projects across the country.

“Lowe’s is an outstanding fit as we continue to bring builders, developers and volunteers together to help our heroes and their families,” said Rusty Carroll, executive director at Operation FINALLY HOME.

Continue on to Lowe’s Newsroom to read the complete article.