Carolyn Blashek, Founder of Operation Gratitude

1. What are your three words to live by? Why do these words guide your life?

Integrity, Tenacity & Commitment

Living a life of integrity–honor and honesty–elicits respect from others, and I am a firm believer that it is more important to be respected than loved.

Approaching life with tenacity–fighting for what you believe in and never giving up–promotes success against all odds.

Commitment — in one’s relationships, in one’s pursuits–ensures ultimate success and satisfaction.

2. What does being an “Architect of Change” mean to you?

I view being an Architect of Change on a micro and on a macro-level. On the micro-level, I have been able to impact a few individual lives by my actions–writing a letter and crocheting a scarf for someone about to go into harm’s way. On a macro-level, I recognize that I have fostered an environment that enables many Americans to similarly impact individual lives of those going into harm’s way such that the cumulative effect is much larger than the sum of the individual acts–leading military commanders to refer to Operation Gratitude as a “Force Enhancer.”

3. Who do you consider to be an Architect of Change in your life? Why?

Both of my parents have been Architects of Change: My father as a physician has saved many lives on an individual level and then as a teacher and mentor of future physicians, has touched the lives of countless other patients, sparked research and medical discoveries with wide ranging impact.? My mother, a teacher and librarian, similarly inspired many individual students to succeed and pursue careers; those students in turn have had achievements that impact large numbers of people, the arts and society in general.

In all the cases of people who realize their potential to be Architect of Change, I am reminded of the concept: “When a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world.”

4. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life??

There is no such thing as “can’t.” There is always a way to achieve a goal–you just need to be creative to find the way and tenacious to get there.

5. What is one thing you are working on right now that you feel especially passionate about?

The newest Operation Gratitude initiative is our “Battalion Buddy Program” to provide cuddly stuffed animals to the children of deploying service members. The Battalion Buddy, wearing a tag that says: “Hi Brave Young Warrior,” is given to each child at their parent’s pre-deployment or farewell event so the child has something to hug while their Mommy or Daddy is away. The impact of these cuddly companions on both the children and their parents has been profound. I am committed to ensuring that every Military child facing separation from their parent receives a Battalion Buddy.

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