06/10/10 — Site would link military families to support options

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Site would link military families to support options

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 10, 2010 1:46 PM

RALEIGH -- In a matter of a few clicks, those left behind when a loved one heads to war would have support -- at least, that is the goal of the "Carolina Helping Heroes" program recently launched by the state's first gentleman, Bob Eaves.

And the initiative -- one that, through a website, links volunteer organizations to those who might need help during their spouse's deployment -- is a critical one, Gov. Beverly Perdue's husband said.

"I think if the word is out there, so many would be willing to volunteer to do this," Eaves said.

It started at a national governors conference, when Eaves met with other spouses of states' top executives.

The first lady of Minnesota talked about a program launched in her state that centered around providing assistance to those families effected by ongoing war efforts across the world.

"That kind of rang a bell," Eaves said. "I thought, 'God, if that works in Minnesota, how many opportunities would we have for it to work in North Carolina?'"

So Eaves and his staff constructed and launched a Web site -- www.carolinahelpingheroes.nc.gov -- that asks volunteer organizations to sign up to help the young mother or father coping with the absence of their head of household.

And to date, more than 60 organizations are on board, ready, Eaves said, to mow a lawn or cook a meal when needed.

The program is fitting, he added, given his wife's fondness for the military.

But the fact that a large percentage of the workload being performed overseas is coming courtesy of North Carolina-based troops, he said, makes it something he hopes will remain a part of state's programming long after the governor leaves office.

"With so many people deployed from North Carolina ... we want to make sure that this program goes on after my wife is out of office," Eaves said. "We don't want it to be my program or the governor's program."

Those organizations interested in joining Eaves' effort can simply visit the Web site -- once there, the steps are fairly self-explanatory.

"I would be disappointed if we can't get the word out and have many, many organizations in six months," he said.

Because he knows that only then, with a large pool of volunteers, will help get to all those who need it.

"It isn't just everybody who is around a base," Eaves said. "With the National Guard's involvement, you get people from all over North Carolina that come from small towns ... who don't have the support that you have right there in Goldsboro."

At least, he hopes, not yet.