Many service members can’t make it home for the holidays. Here’s how their families are staying connected.
Courtesy of Google Nest
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The holidays are a time of connection. All over the world, families are reuniting, bonding, and making new memories that will last a lifetime. But for hundreds of thousands of military families, celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule is impossible with service members stationed overseas. To paraphrase "I'll Be Home for Christmas," togetherness for military families during this time of the year may just be a dream.

Fortunately, in 2019, we can do a little bit better than dreams — thanks to tech. This year, the USO, the leading military support organization in America, and Google Nest are teaming up to ensure military families who can't reunite for the holidays can always stay connected. With the Google Nest Hub, a digital assistant that makes it easy to share photos from all over the world in real time — families can keep in touch even across great distances.


On December 9, the two organizations constructed a festive gingerbread village at Camp Pendleton, the largest military base in California, to provide service members and military families with festive USO Holidays programming. The week-long experience brought a winter wonderland to the base and allowed military families to walk through life-size gingerbread houses to decorate cookies, make ornaments, write letters to Santa and more. For service members and military families who could not travel home or be with their families during the holidays, this provided the comforts of home. A full-scale gingerbread house was unexpected, but those attending the event got an even bigger surprise: Google Nest gifted Nest Hubs to military families, so they could stay in touch with those that matter most.

Chris Fowler

"As our service members and military families work tirelessly and make daily sacrifices, even the smallest reminder of home can have a huge impact," says Chris Fowler, Director of Corporate Development at the USO.

"Throughout the year, our nation's service members are there for us. This is our chance to be there for them. Whether we're delivering care packages, hosting holiday events or enabling technology that brings loved ones together, the USO is making sure that service members and their families are connected to the comforts of home this holiday season."

A partnership like this is a perfect fit for the USO, as the nonprofit's mission is to keep service members connected to family, home and country. The organization not only offers WiFi in 230 locations around the world, it also helps service members stay tethered to their families via a variety of services, including one that allows those overseas to record bedtime stories for their kids and have them sent back home. For military families, the Google Nest transforms each house into a helpful home — one which makes it easy to keep everything you need at your fingertips and stay connected to loved ones with just the press of a button.

Courtesy of Google Nest

You, too, can be a part of helping service members feel just a little bit more at home this holiday season. "As you enjoy your favorite holiday traditions," Fowler says, "pause for a moment to show your support for those who remain on duty, protecting our nation." When you make a donation to the USO, you'll be delivering a piece of home to some of the people who need it most.

Google is providing Nest Hubs to USO families to help them feel closer this holiday season. Join us in supporting the USO at uso.org/googlenest.

Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
True

"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

Keep Reading Show less