The STANO Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in June 2015.
Being a military mom, Founder and President, Paula Stano, was involved with the SAMs (Stand Alone Marines) during her son’s boot camp experience. These young men/women had no support or anyone to take them home after graduation or to be with on the proudest day of their lives. The battalion her son was with started a Facebook page to help support them by listing all the donations they needed for the SAMs so they could be prepared for their next endeavor. It hurt her heart to read about this and she knew she had to do something. Paula reached out to family, friends and through the power of Facebook, she was able to collect so many donations that she needed to borrow a Chevy Tahoe to drive them to South Carolina. It was truly a humbling experience for Paula to see so many people come together to make this happen; it was amazing. This is when the realization occurred that this was only the beginning of her volunteering experience with the military.
After MCT and his MOS schooling, her son was given an overseas PDS. As much as she hated him being so far away, it’s what he wanted and she at least knew he’d be “safe.” Paula sent him care packages at least once a month and she signed him up with organizations who wanted to help our deployed troops. He appreciated the packages but felt that there were others who needed these kinds of packages more than him. Once he told her this, she asked him if he wanted her to reach out to some of his friends who were deployed in unsafe areas or on ships where some things were just not accessible to them. Paula knew there was something she could do to help them receive packages from home filled with love and support. Within a couple of weeks, Paula was corresponding with some of her son’s high school friends who were now in the military and in situations where they would graciously welcome the care packages. It was amazing and yet heartbreaking at the same time as some of the items they were asking for were things we take for granted every day. As the days grew closer to the holiday season, Paula took a leap (a huge leap) and adopted a whole platoon who would be deployed at Christmas time and away from their families. Paula rallied up her family, friends and coworkers and together they were able to send 45 boxes to this platoon of 24 men. It was so gratifying! This is when the wheels truly started churning about doing this as often as she could.
Two months later, after being discouraged at a volunteer packing party for the military, where no thought was put into what was being sent out. It was more about how many boxes can we fill and ship. Paula’s best friend asked why she just didn’t form her own organization. She said, “You’ve done this already and you can do it again.” To be honest, Paula had thought about it but she was scared. With her best friend being a huge networker, belonging to many committees and being so active in our community, her best friend encouraged Paula to follow her dream and ensured her that she would be there to help her succeed. They began reaching out to these organizations who were excited at the idea and looking forward to help when the time arose.
So here we are!
Paula would like to thank her son as he is the inspiration behind this organization. He has taught her how to be a better person each and every day. He always told her she couldn’t save the world but she felt it was her duty to help serve those who serve us. If Paula can help just one person at a time, and inspire someone else to do the same, slowly it will work and together we can. Our military should never feel forgotten and without support. Please help us to help them.
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Meet the faces behind the Stano Foundation. Each one of us has the same passion and enthusiasm when it comes to helping our military. None of us get paid a salary and we each volunteer our time and efforts to help make this organization successful.
Paula grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts but moved to Florida in 1998. She is a single mom of a US Marine who is the inspiration behind this organization. After his enlistment, she quickly learned of how many of our military troops didn’t have any or much support from back home. With her son being stationed overseas, it became painstakingly apparent during the holiday season that these men and women would have to celebrate in either their barracks or maybe a local USO and not with their families. Paula would like to incorporate a program here in the Tampa Bay area where anyone stationed here without family would be able to sign up for a program where they could spend holidays with host families so they didn’t feel so alone. Paula has a great passion of helping others and can’t wait to help those who help us live the way we do every day.
Libby is originally from Scranton, Pa., but has called Tampa Bay her home for more than 25 years. She learned to give back to her community and to those who have served in the military from her grandfathers. Her grandfather, Donald Hopkins was a Marine and her grandfather, Vito Rinaldi served in the Navy. Libby has lent her fundraising talents to many local charities and non-profits to help them raise operating funds and gain corporate sponsorships. She is honored to be the Vice President of the Stano Foundation.
Debbie grew up in Miami, Florida the only child of Cuban immigrants and first generation American. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for over 25 years and has 3 children. Two of which are actively serving, one in the Marine Corps and the other in the Navy. Her third is in the process of joining the Navy. Not having anyone in the military she soon learned that there were active military members that did not have support from home, or their family did not have the means to help.
She met the founder of The Stano Foundation through a Marine mom facebook page and found her niche. Volunteering with The Stano Foundation has become her passion and allows her the ability to spread the love. Debbie’s goal is make The Stano Foundation nationwide.
Kellie is an Ohio native who has spent the last 11 years in Tampa Bay. She has spent time volunteering since she was a little girl as service was a passion of her grandmother and mother. She has long standing ties to the military as her maternal grandfather was a Navy Veteran, her dad a Purple Heart (Vietnam War) recipient with the Marine Corps, along with many other military family members in all branches of the service. Her husband, Charles, retired from the Marine Corps in 2016 after serving 20+ years. Through Charles’ many deployments, Kellie quickly understood the importance of sending support to our troops. Kellie and their children were introduced to Paula Stano at another event supporting the military. After seeing the passion and commitment Paula had and learning the vision and mission of the Stano Foundation, Kellie knew this was an organization she wanted her family to become a part of. Kellie and her family starting supporting and volunteering with the Stano Foundation in 2015. Kellie hopes to help grow Stano’s role in supporting our veteran population, as they have watched and lived through some of the struggles that our veterans face. They also strive to connect the youth, our veterans and our active troops through the growth of Stano’s local community outreach programs. As a Human Resources Professional in Tampa Bay, Kellie has community relationships that will help drive the Stano mission in supporting our Veterans and troops.
Jordan began his military career right after graduating high school. He is goal-driven and loves the challenges the Marine Corps has placed before him. He was named top 5 percent of his class and after completing his first board this past September; he won Marine of the Quarter, outshining over 1500 fellow Marines for this distinction. He has been meritoriously promoted several times which is earned not only by his dedication, hard work, and accomplishments to date, but also by a clear recognition of his potential for higher level responsibility.
Jordan also has a heart for service and wants to give back to those in need. He keeps himself involved in command functions and in the community. Jordan looks to get his fellow Marines involved and pushes them to rise up with him instead of only working to better himself. He has earned multiple letters of appreciation for his volunteer hours and has accrued more than 300 hours since May 2014 earning him the award of 2015 USO Okinawa Service Salute Marine of the Year. Jordan will be our military outreach director and is looking forward to helping as many of his brothers/sisters in any branch as he can.
Charles Thomas USMC (Ret) is an Ohio native who began his military career after graduating high school. Charles is a 20+ year Veteran of the US Marine Corps serving in roles such as Intelligence Chief/Officer of Marine Air Group and Marine Corp Tactics & Operation Group. In his career with the Marine Corps, he has traveled to 17 countries, been stationed in 7 locations, deployed 6 times and served in 5 operations, including, Operation Iraqi Freedom & Operation Enduring Freedom. While serving, he earned the Joint Service Commendation Medal, 2 Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals, 2 Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals, a Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and various campaign and unit awards.
After retirement, Charles knew he needed to stay connected with his brothers and fellow Veterans. He strives to keep our Veterans in the forefront of the hearts and minds of our communities. His goal is to educate our workforces and our communities on the struggles Veterans face and how to improve their daily well-being in those environments through outreach and project initiatives with Stano. He currently serves as a Business Analyst with the State of Florida.
Anthony is a lifelong resident of Boston, MA who graduated in 1998 from UMass Amherst with honors. He has been working in the healthcare industry for the past 15 years with a concentration in sales. Nicholas Stano, Anthony’s paternal grandfather served in the Navy and his nephew now proudly serves in the Marines so Anthony is very excited to bring what he can to the table to help our military. He encompasses a wealth of knowledge that he will be using as the Treasurer for the Stano Foundation
Gina Snow grew up in Dedham MA but moved to Worcester MA 10 years ago. She graduated with honors from Westfield State University in 1999 with her Bachelors Degree in Psychology. In 2008, Gina received her Masters in Social Work from Bridgewater State University. For the last ten years, Gina has been employed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a child protection social worker. Gina has always known that she wanted to be in the helping profession and strives to give back to others who are less fortunate. Gina strongly believes in the motto "We rise by lifting others".
Being a social worker; Gina has worked with a diverse population and is used to being a strong advocate for others. Gina volunteers with Rise Above which is a non profit that is dedicated to providing Massachusetts children in foster care with enriching activities, opportunities and experiences. Gina's paternal grandfather served in The Navy, her husband served in The Coast Guard and her nephew currently serves in The Marines. Gina is extremely excited to be a part of The Stano Foundation and looks forward to giving back to our military and supporting them while they are overseas.
© 2019 STANO Foundation