Midlands Gives: Big Red Barn

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Published: May. 2, 2022 at 11:13 AM EDT|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 7:08 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Tuesday you can help non-profits by donating through Midlands Gives. Members of the Big Red Barn in Blythewood are sharing the reasons why you should help.

Peter Hulme, Sutton Shaw, and Ellisa Nester are all working to help veterans and first responders feel empowered. Hulme served as a Marine and was deployed to places like Afghanistan and Iraq during the war.

“They gave me my life back and I want to help them,” Hulme said. “I was given the opportunity to come here and kind of learn better ways in which to take care of myself, my family, my personal life, everything like that.”

Several programs are aimed at helping members combat obstacles they faced in the line of duty.

Sutton Shaw is the executive director. She and her family formed the Big Red Barn in honor of her late father, Leon Irons, who served in the Navy.

“They have never met him. But certainly, they share many of the values that he shared, which is the love of country, which is helping others,” Shaw said.

Last year during Covid, the group helped about 2,000 veterans, and this year that number is expected to increase. With help, the group says they can continue to host events like the Warrior PATHH Program which provides services all across South Carolina.

“This is all about post-traumatic growth and we want to change the narrative in this marketplace in the Midlands to talk about the positive changes that can happen from struggle and the difference our warriors can make in the community,” Shaw said.

Ellisa Nester served as a combat medic in the Army and deployed to Iraq and other places, where she says she developed P.T.S.D in 2003 after losing several soldiers to war.

“There is a stigma with mental illness in the military. I feel like if you, if you say, hey, I need help, you’re going be judged pretty much right away,” Nester said.

It’s with help from other veterans that Nester says she’s learning how to overcome it.

“They’ve seen things that as a civilian, we will never experience. So that’s why they need this training. So they can take that and help them put it in perspective and look at it differently,” Shaw said.

To donate to the Big Red Barn and other nonprofits during Midlands Gives, you can click here.

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