Military support group moves to Auburn

New location hopefully makes organization more central to community, leader says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A Placer County group that works to support deployed soldiers and their families is moving to Auburn. The Placer County chapter of Operation: MOM holds packing nights for their “A Little Touch of Home” care packages every third Tuesday of the month. The meeting also acts as a support group for those who have military loved ones deployed in any conflict around the world. Group Leader Pat Ryan said the organization is making 2349 Rickenbacker Way in Auburn its official home on Sunday, after using the Colfax Veterans Memorial Hall for many years. “The reason why is we are a Placer County unit, and this is our eighth year, and more people look at us as a Colfax unit,” Ryan said. Ryan said the group is hoping to reach more people in cities like Roseville and Rocklin. “There are a lot of people who are further down (in the county) who don’t want to drive clear up to Colfax, but they will come to Auburn,” she said. The move was made possible after Auburn businessman Tom Dwelle donated the top of his hangar rent-free to the group, Ryan said. “I’m really excited,” Ryan said. “I think it’s going to be easier for us to be more organized here.” At 6 p.m. on May 17 the group is hosting an open house, packing night and support group meeting. “Hopefully other people will come and just see what we are about,” Ryan said of the open house. Meadow Vista resident Jean DiMare is a volunteer with the group and has a nephew currently serving in south Afghanistan. DiMare said the “A Little Touch of Home” packages are very important for the troops. “I think they need to know not only does their family support them, but America supports them, (too),” she said. “I do a lot of praying, that’s for sure, and I just hope that what they are doing is going to make the world a better place and hopefully being here will help them facilitate that.” DiMare said the group gets letters from the troops about the packages. “They thank us immensely for thinking of them, supporting them, for giving them a little bit of home when they are out in the field,” she said. Auburn resident Lori Bergenstock has a son, Tim Bergenstock, serving in Afghanistan. Bergenstock said the support of those involved in the group was a big reason she and her husband got involved. Bergenstock said through Operation: MOM her family met another family whose son’s unit in Afghanistan was being relieved by her son’s unit, and that meant a lot to her family. Bergenstock said those who attend the group’s meetings have loved ones in all stages of deployment. “You kind of get all kinds of perspectives, which from a parent’s viewpoint is awesome,” she said. “I think one of the things about the group is just the raising awareness (about what’s going on in the conflicts overseas).” Bergenstock said the group is unique in that even those who are no longer in the military are still welcome to attend and help out and all five branches of the military are represented. “So that is neat, too,” she said. “You are up there packing, and you are next to an Army mom and you are next to a Navy mom.” The group is always looking for donations for their care packages and items can include things like beef jerky, protein bars, ground coffee, disposable razors, shower gel, dental floss, playing cards, black and white socks, paperback books, sunscreen, lip balms and more. Year-round drop off locations in Auburn include Dawn’s Hallmark on Lincoln Way, Frank Lewis Insurance on Linden Avenue, Gold Country Realty on Lincoln Way and the UPS Store on Bell Road. Ryan said she hopes the move to Auburn makes the group more of a central part of Placer County. “I think by being in Auburn we are going to be able to reach out to other communities in Placer County and let them feel like they are a part of our group,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ Operation: MOM, Placer County chapter What: A group that supports members of the military and their family members in Placer County. Where: 2349 Rickenbacker Way, Auburn Information: Call Pat Ryan at (530) 908-0751, e-mail or search for Operation Mom Placer County on Website: Upcoming events: Casino Night and Luau Party, 6-10 p.m. May 14, 255 S. Auburn Street, Grass Valley, Open House, 6 p.m. May 17, 2349 Rickenbacker Way, Auburn