It is often said that inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places. For Kathy and Dennis Hewitt, that statement could not ring truer. She is the vice president of human resources at Longwood-based Analog Modules, and he's a sales executive for electronics distributor TTI. But it's their work outside regular business hours that has attracted the most attention.
In 2010, their nephew, Josh, was deployed to Afghanistan, and they quickly realized how important their care packages were to him. At that time, he was stationed at a small combat outpost for the forward deployed, one that didn’t have a Post Exchange (PX). Even beyond what they sent in those care packages, Josh was unable to get many of the supplies he needed. Upon further investigation, Kathy realized that this was more common than most people thought. There were many units that didn’t have access to a PX, and there were others that were super limited on how many supplies they could get from their PX due to the number of soldiers on those bases. Josh also let Kathy and Dennis know that there were soldiers in his unit that never received any packages from friends and family, a statement that moved Kathy and Dennis to action.
“Our goal is for our care packages to brighten the days of their recipients and bring smiles to our heroes' faces while they serve our country far from their families and friends.”
- Kathy Hewitt
In 2011, the Hewitts formally founded the aptly named J.O.S.H., Just Our Soldiers’ Helpers. The stated mission of the organization is to provide encouragement and support to deployed service members from all branches of the U.S. Military. This is accomplished by preparing and shipping care packages consisting of snacks, food, hygiene products, and other necessities.
“Our goal is for our care packages to brighten the days of their recipients and bring smiles to our heroes' faces while they serve our country far from their families and friends. When a service member is added to our shipping list, he/she continues to receive our support as long as they are deployed,” Kathy stated.
The local community has come behind Kathy and Dennis to contribute to J.O.S.H., with many organizations supporting the mission through the provision of supplies and the packaging/shipping of these care packages overseas. In fact, two of Seminole State College of Florida’s student organizations – the Seminole State Volunteers and the Non-Traditional Students Club – have partnered in previous semesters to contribute.
This tie back to Seminole State College has special meaning to Kathy and Dennis. In the mid-90s, the two attended Seminole State in pursuit of their associate degrees and happened to meet in then-Professor Tipton’s economics course. Kathy credits that class with not only introducing her to the love of her life, but also with igniting a spark for what would become her future career. Throughout her 32-year career with Analog Modules, she has served in various capacities, often needing the foundational knowledge she learned in her classes at Seminole State. She also says that these courses have helped her better manage the operations of J.O.S.H., from budgeting to strategic planning for the organization.
Today, when they aren’t working at their full-time jobs, Kathy and Dennis find themselves planning packing events for J.O.S.H. with partners throughout Seminole County. They are also raising two sons, the first of which is in his second year at Seminole State College and will be transferring to UCF through the DirectConnect program next year, and the second who plans to attend Seminole State starting next Fall.
To learn more about J.O.S.H., including volunteer and donation opportunities, visit justoursoldiershelpers.org.
Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.
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For Kathy and Dennis Hewitt, serving those who serve is personal. So they founded Just Our Soldiers' Helpers (J.O.S.H.) to support and encourage deployed military members by sending care packages from home.Read More »