AWP Founder Awarded “Woment to Watch” Award with Gabrielle Giffords

The Women to Watch Awards, held each spring in Washington, DC, celebrates Running Start’s efforts to inspire young women to run for public office. The annual event honors some of the most impressive young women in the country, including some of the youngest women in Congress and other young women leaders who represent the best of their respective professions. By honoring these young women, Running Start hopes to inspire them–and others like them–to take their leadership to another level.

This year, Running Start is pleased to honor:

Representative Gabrielle Giffords, U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2012 (AZ-08)

Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, Chief of Protocol of the United States

Representative Martha Roby, U.S. House of Representatives (AL-02)

Taryn Davis, Founder and Executive Director, American Widow Project

Natalie Randolph, Varsity Football Coach, Coolidge High School

Rocio Ortega, Student Activist

and alumnae tribute

Jacqueline Emerson, Actress, The Hunger Games

AWP’s Efforts Honored in Honolulu

As a day of remembrance for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation, Memorial Day comes once a year. But for many families and many spouses, the observance of the sacrifice made by their loved ones is a daily one. These people made the ultimate sacrifice of sending their loved ones off to war, never to return to them.

The death of a spouse can be a profound and powerful loss that many widows and widowers describe as losing ‘half’ of themselves. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 3,000 military spouses have been widowed during the global war on terror. Military survivors often find that in addition to their sudden loss, they are faced with a sudden change of residence, separation from the network of support they have come to expect, and even survivor’s guilt. It’s my honor this month to recognize the work of two nonprofit organizations actively supporting our military widows.

For more than four decades, the Society of Military Widows has helped countless women whose husbands died while on active military duty, of a service-connected illness, or during disability or regular retirement from the armed forces. The organization not only continues to provide moral support and assistance to military widows to rebuild their lives, they also focus is on legislative issues regarding benefits and entitlements of military widows, as well as work to increase public awareness of the problems and needs of widows of members of all U.S. uniformed services.

Founded in 2007, the American Widow Project’s core focus is to provide peer-to-peer support and resources through means readily accessible anywhere, anytime to women who have lost a husband or fiancé in service — whether to an accident or illness or in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. This nationally recognized non-profit organization has already made a difference in the lives of countless survivors who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter.

Mahalo to the Society of Military Widows and the American Widow Project for their compassion, service, and support for the survivors of our men and women in the armed forces who gave their lives in service to our great nation.

United Grace is Proud to Introduce a New Jewelry Line in Support of the AWP on Memorial Day and Beyond

Austin, Texas (PRWEB) May 18, 2012

Founded by a military wife, United Grace was created as a bridge to unite, inspire, and celebrate the patriotism and sacrifices of our military community.

This jewelry line currently consists of 3 custom designed collections, each celebrating its own distinct purpose. The Red, White, and Blue Signature Pendant was designed for all who want to share their love and pride for our country. It symbolizes strength, peace, and purity of life.

The Blue Star Grace Collection is inspired by our service members and their families, known as “Blue Star Families”. Their courage, selflessness, and sacrifice for the secure life that the rest of us enjoy were the motivation by which this beautiful and exquisite line was created. They stand strong without complaint, and the desire was to celebrate and honor them.

United Grace’s proudest achievement is the Gold Star Grace Collection. During World War 1, families hung gold stars in their windows to honor those who were killed while serving the nation. In 1928, twenty-five mothers met in Washington, D.C., to establish Gold Star Mothers Inc. These ladies paved the way for our country to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen. In honoring that tradition, the hope is that the Gold Star Grace Collection will serve as a symbol to our Gold Star Families that their loved ones will never be forgotten.

“It is with great pride that United Grace has partnered with The American Widow Project as a portion of proceeds will be given back to this organization as they continue to work with military widows who have lost their heroes of yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” said Donna Jones, United Grace Co-founder. Just since 2001, over 6500 service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan (not including our heroes who lost their lives in non-combat ways). Among half of those service members were married, leaving an estimated 3200 military widows across our country, from the wars alone.

United Grace encourages sponsors to purchase from the Gold Star Grace Collection to be donated to one of our American Widows on your behalf. For Information on How to become a United Grace Gold Star Sponsor, please email us at info(at)unitedgrace(dot)com.

The United Grace Collection is available online at In addition, those who purchase this collection are encouraged to share their personal stories as we build a community to encourage and inspire one another. United Grace, at its core, is not about buying, or donating, or contributing. It is about uniting. It is people united together with a common goal of supporting our military community – and one another.

As a woman owned business, United Grace is committed to designing jewelry that is timeless, versatile, and sophisticated – at every price. Over thirty years of experience with metals and intricate stone setting techniques make us a rare expert in the creation and design of custom fine jewelry. United Grace uses the highest quality of materials, gemstones, and settings made of platinum, gold, and silver. For more information on the United Grace Collections, log on to or contact United Grace PR at 512-271-9433, or by email info(at)unitedgrace(dot)com.

Chronicle of Philanthropy

A Charity Helps Military Widows Reclaim Their Lives
By Michelle Gienow

In the decade since the United States went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 6,200 members of the military have died in the service of their country, leaving behind an estimated 3,000 military widows. Widows like Taryn Davis, who in 2007 lost her husband, Marine Cpl. Michael Davis, to an improvised explosive device during his first tour in Iraq. She was 21 years old, and they had been married for 18 months.

“No 21-year-old knows how to bury her husband, and no one around her knows how to help,” says Ms. Davis.

Just four months after her husband’s death, Ms. Davis founded the American Widow Project, a charity in Austin, Tex., dedicated to helping military widows, chiefly by connecting them with one other. The group sponsors frequent retreats in which small groups of widows congregate to not only share their grief and their memories but also participate in life-embracing, boundary-expanding activities such as skydiving, sailing, and rock climbing.

“We are bringing these women together to build the same camaraderie their husbands had with fellow service members,” says Ms. Davis. “Not letting them live in their grief but challenging them emotionally and mentally, that they may see their capacity to live is far broader than they’d ever expected since their husbands’ deaths.”

The organization has sponsored 18 retreats, which are available free to any of the more than 1,000 military widows who have joined the group.

Ms. Davis supported the organization in its early days by using the money she received from her husband’s death benefits. This year the charity is operating on a budget of $160,000, with about 10 percent of the money coming from donated products and services and the rest from private contributions, says Ms. Davis. While most of the money comes from individuals, the American Widow Project has received grants from corporate and family foundations.

Scott Burchfield first heard about the charity from an ABC News profile and was so inspired by the group that he approached Ms. Davis with the idea of organizing annual golf-tournament fundraisers in partnership with his employer, Kangaroo Express.

“What sets AWP apart from other charities we’ve sponsored is how its benefits keep expanding,” he says, noting that the personal connections forged during the group’s retreats create a self-sustaining healing process as the widows continue to support each other.

Eli Melton, whose husband died a year ago, agrees. The group “helped me to give shape to my grieving and to understand that I’m not alone, that there are so many other women to pull from and to feel for that are in the same place,” says Ms. Melton. “Taryn and AWP gave me this whole network of amazing women, as well as a new way to grieve—and to live.”

-See the Full Story HERE

KaZAM Bikes Supports AWP

KaZAM will make a $5 contribution to The American Widow Project for every KaZAM Balance Bike sold.

Virginia Beach, VA (PRWEB) February 29, 2012

KaZAM is a small company hoping to make a big difference in the lives of military widows. KaZAM will make a $5 contribution to the American Widow Project for every KaZAM purchased at full retail value at

The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter. To learn more about the American Widow Project please visit

“The American Widow Project is honored to have KaZAM Bikes support the military widow’s whose heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice, by supporting our efforts with each bike purchased. What one may look at as a gift for a child, we will look at as a part of the needed healing and support for this generation’s widows,” notes Taryn Davis, Founder and Executive Director.

The KaZAM Balance Bike was invented by John Lugo and his childhood friend Michael Wagner based on their experience teaching their children how to ride a bike. Lugo and Wagner developed the KaZAM’s patented and award-winning design on nights and weekends in Wagner’s garage.

The KaZAM Balance Bike was named one of the 20 Best Summer Toys in the June 2011 edition of. Parents Magazine. The award-winning KaZAM bike also has been featured on NBC’s The Today Show, in Parenting Magazine, and was the recipient of the 2010 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award and the 2010 Creative Child Magazine Ride-On Toy of the Year Award.

When active duty military member John Lugo learned about The American Widow Project, he and Wagner knew they wanted to support the organization’s work by donating $5 for every KaZAM sold at

About KaZAM:
KaZAM balance bikes are available online for $99.95 (includes free shipping) and at specialty bicycle and toy retailers nationwide. KaZAM ™ bikes are available in Orange, ed, Green, Pink and Blue. Visit today to learn why KaZAM offers the most innovative and best balance bike on the market.

Fayetteville Observer: Military Home Front- An awards show for America’s real heroes

Military Home Front: An awards show for America’s real heroes

Sonya Sparks Murdock

Is it just me, or is anyone else sick of Hollywood awards season by now?

There were the Golden Globes, Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards. There’s even a Kids’ Choice Awards, complete with green slime, to make sure that everyone gets a chance to spread the love around. It’s a wonder Hollywood has time to make any movies at all, since everyone is so busy presenting and receiving little golden statues.

If you ask me, Hollywood is the most self-congratulatory place on earth. In fact, there’s probably an award for that, too. It’s just gotten lost among all the other, more glamorous awards.

Perhaps it’s one of those awards presented at another banquet a week earlier and hosted by a B-list actress from “Dancing With the Stars.” The show didn’t air on national television because all the winners were ordinary-looking middle-aged guys in bad tuxedos with disheveled hair. They are the smart guys who win awards like “Best Lighting That Makes Meryl Streep Look 20 Years Younger Than She Actually Is” or the “Best Sound Effects for Making Moviegoers Deaf After Watching the Latest Installment of Mission: Impossible.”

Admittedly, most of us would prefer a show filled with glamorous evening gowns and millions of dollars’ worth of borrowed jewelry than an hour of geeks fumbling through awkward speeches thanking people we’ve never heard of.

But this year, the glitzy pomp and circumstance seems even more out of touch than normal. With so many Americans struggling just to put food on the table and shoes on their children, it is surprising to me that any of us would be interested in spending the better part of a Sunday evening watching the parade of overindulgence waltz down a red carpet like royalty.

The whole idea of celebrating the so-called “achievements” of a tiny percentage of our national population for merely entertaining us seems absurd.

Perhaps, though, the economy only increases our need for escape and these shows provide a brief respite from the rising price of gas and bank foreclosures. Admittedly, the Oscars will be a breath of fresh air after weeks of unending political debates among GOP candidates.

The American way has always been to reward hard work and sacrifice. But this constant barrage of stars patting themselves on the back seems petty when there are so many more serious issues facing our country. We sit through the rambling lists of nominees and the winners gushing speeches thanking everyone from their first-grade teachers to their stylists.

I say we come up with awards for the true unsung heroes out there – those who don’t get a huge over-the-top shindig to say, “Yea me!”

I think that if we are going to congratulate people for a job well done, we should start with the ordinary people who go about the business of helping others in need or making the world a better place to inhabit. We could call it the “I’m Bot Rich and Famous, But I Do Important Work” awards.

The awards would be for true acts of valor in combat, not the Hollywood version of war where heroes fight imaginary adversaries from outer space. The winners would have rid the world of real-life monsters like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Best Ensemble Performance: SEAL Team 6.

Best Actor in a Drama: The dad who smiles and waves goodbye to his family as he leaves for a yearlong deployment.

Best Actress : The wife left behind to pretend that every day is normal.

Best Supporting Role: Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient, who saved the lives of 36 Afghan and U.S. troops fighting the Taliban.

Best Female Supporting Role: Taryn Davis, who formed the American Widow Project four years ago after her husband, an Army corporal, was killed in Iraq. Now she supports nearly 1,000 other grieving young widows with her national support group.

The experts say that we do our children a disservice by idolizing the heroes of our pop culture, such as professional athletes and rock stars. We should encourage our children to find role models in average Americans who do good deeds and remind them to not be so impressed by people who only pretend to be heroes for a living.

So on Oscar night, just make sure you mention this to your kids. I know I will, but only after I ooh and aah over the designer dresses on the red carpet.