Natalie Mika is one of Lakeshore Lodging’s vacation planners. Every day, she helps prospective guests build their dream vacations. But when she goes home, she’s a mom to three children. Her 19-year-old son Noah (pictured left) is a member of the United States Army, and he’s the reason Natalie decided to join Blue Star Mothers earlier this year.
What is Blue Star Mothers
Blue Star Mothers is a nationwide organization of mothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, and female legal guardians who have children in the military or who are veterans. There are chapters all around the United States, and each one supports their local service members, veterans, and military family members in various ways. They also function as a support group for military mothers.
Why our Vacation Planner Natalie joined Blue Star Mothers
Natalie is a member of the South Kent, Michigan chapter, and that’s the chapter Lakeshore Lodging is raising funds for this May*. She learned about it from her neighbor, whose cousin was the president of the Blue Star Mothers Department of Michigan. She joined when the stress of being a military mom hit a fever pitch.
“I called her one day, and I was like a basket case,” Natalie said.
The pressures and worries of having her son away in the military were building up, and she needed an outlet. The president gave her the number of the South Kent chapter, and Natalie arranged to meet up with some of its members.
“I was looking for something that was more supportive and understanding and could help me process my thoughts and feelings,” Natalie said.
“We’ve had a lot of obstacles even with him being in the service,” she said. “He had to grow up really quick and take on adult responsibilities that most kids his age don’t.”
On top of the inherent stresses of being separated from her young son, Natalie found that being in the military didn’t really help Noah with the challenges of being forced into early adulthood. Once while traveling, Noah needed a place to stay but couldn’t get a hotel room because he was too young, despite his status as a service member.
The military doesn’t necessarily pay well, either.
“People in the military don’t make this great amount of money,” Natalie said. “(Noah’s) step sister works at Taco Bell part time, and she nets more than he grosses in a month.” He has expenses that can be difficult to handle on that kind of budget.
“It frustrates me, because I see the struggle with him and he shouldn’t have to struggle with any of that. Money should not be an issue. He should not have to worry about getting a bill paid because he doesn’t make enough money in the military,” she said.
Channeling energy into advocacy
So Natalie channels that frustration into her advocacy. She became a dues-paying member of Blue Star Mothers in February. Through the activities they do, Natalie is able to support her son and service members like him.
“We need to be helping them, first and foremost,” she said.
The South Kent chapter of Blue Star Mothers works with the local veterans hospital and sends care packages to troops and their family members. They also support “Gold Star Mothers,” or mothers who have lost their service member. They have a big golf outing on June 24 to raise general funds.
Natalie has taken particular interest in helping improve the care package program, and is grateful that the organization allows its members to send care packages to their own children as well.
More than anything, she appreciates the camaraderie the organization provides her.
“It’s kind of like a sisterhood,” she said.
We support Blue Star Mothers
For Natalie, Noah, and all service members and their families, Lakeshore Lodging is donating $10 for every night of paid occupancy in May. There’s still time for you to join us.
Book a last minute stay in May. We still have multiple properties with Memorial Day availability. Celebrate the holiday and help us get closer to our goal of donating $2000 to Blue Star Mothers – South Kent Michigan 191. Check our website for availability
*For every paid night of occupancy in May, 2017 Lakeshore Lodging is donating $10 to Blue Star Mothers – South Kent Michigan 191. This donation will be made on June 14, 2017 (Flag Day).