Helping Hands for Freedom, a 501c3 organization, was founded in 2011 by co-founders Patrick Shannon, who has received the Purple Heart twice and a Bronze Star for his wounds and heroism in Iraq, and Rodney Smith, a former college and NFL standout who has experience with non-profits.
While at Walter Reed Medical Hospital recovering from wounds sustained during combat, Staff Sgt. Shannon heard stories from various soldiers who expressed concern about their family and the realities of keeping their house and the struggle of recovering while family members were at home. These stories struck a chord with Shannon, who left a position with the Wounded Warrior Project to co-found Helping Hands for Freedom.
The mission of Helping Hands for Freedom is one of supporting military families dealing with death, deployment and loss. The organization assists Gold Star families, which are those surviving family members of a fallen soldier, along with veterans who suffer from PTSD. In addition, Helping Hands for Freedom offers various programs to the children of military personnel, as well as helping with emergency assistance to military families.
In 2015, Helping Hands for Freedom received the Lincoln Award at the Southwest Veterans Chamber of Commerce’s Patriot’s Ball in Tempe, Arizona. The Lincoln Award is presented to a veterans’ advocacy organization that makes outstanding contributions and support military families.
“This was a huge honor to receive such a recognition. There are 237 military driven charities in America, and we seem like the David in a world of Goliaths sometimes. It’s nice to know a charity like ours, helping one person at a time, does make a difference,” said Darin Fishburn, former CEO of Helping Hands for Freedom.
In April, Helping Hands for Freedom will begin its mission of Route for The Brave, a 3,091 mile walk across America, along U.S. 40 to raise funds for military families and the construction of a Gold Star retreat home equipped with a PTSD center. Helping Hands for Freedom Chairman of the Board, David Roth, and Kevin Winton, a Beech Grove Middle School math teacher, will walk every mile.