Letter of Love Penned to the City of Alameda

As a Coast Guard military family, it is difficult to find a place we truly call home. My family and I uprooted our lives seven times in the past 15 years. 

I married my Coastie in 2004, and in the years since, we’ve lived in New Orleans, Atlantic City, Washington, Connecticut, Virginia and Miami before arriving in Alameda in 2017. My husband and I are both from the East Coast, so the constant need to relocate has meant leaving behind extended family more times than we care to count. We’ve missed out on birthdays, family holidays and even funerals. As a military family, we often sacrifice a lot and miss out on truly having a place to call home. 

This also means my now almost nine-year-old son has missed out on a number of things, including growing up near family, spending time with cousins and being able to remain in the same school. Instead, he has attended five different schools, has said goodbye to friends and reacclimated to a new environment year after year.

When I learned the government shutdown would affect our family and those of 41,000 active-duty Coast Guard members, I tried to remain calm for my family and to reassure other Coast Guard spouses things would be fine. However, on the inside, I was in panic mode. My days and nights were consumed, wondering how long we could survive financially. 

I heard from other Coast Guard families their financial reserves were low, and they didn’t know how long they would be able to afford basic, essential items. I worried about having to explain the situation to my son, whose biggest worry was whether or not the shutdown would mean he would have to sacrifice his favorite breakfast food — crepes, in case you were wondering. 

I worried about how the situation would affect my husband, and how this was adding unnecessary stress to our lives. I felt as if I was sinking into a depression, and, as someone who is usually filled with optimism, I honestly didn’t know if my family would ultimately pull through.

The outpouring of support, love and assistance the residents of Alameda gave our Coast Guard families, mine included, has been heartwarming, to say the least. When donation drives were first being organized, the number of contributions were overwhelming. 

For the first week and a half, my fellow spouses and I picked up donations from dropoff points at The Local, Alameda Island Brewing Company, Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter and Rock Wall Wine Co. As soon as we had filled up our cars and taken them to our makeshift food bank, we would have to turn around and return to pick up more donations. 

The kindness shown to our Coast Guard family surpassed all the more populated cities I’ve lived in for the last 15 years. The community’s compassion for the families impacted helped alleviate the stress we all faced, and it showcased to us that we are part of the Alameda community.

Many military families find it difficult to answer the question: “Where is home?” When I’m asked this question, I usually give a long-winded answer and explain we are a military family who has relocated numerous times, and therefore, we really don’t have a place to truly call home. However, after these last 35 days, I’m honored to be a resident of Alameda.

I’m proud to live in a city that, when called upon to help those in need, there is absolutely no hesitation, no questions and only positivity. It is reassuring to know there still is kindness in the world, and sometimes that kindness comes from the most unexpected place — like a tiny island in the middle of the Bay. 

Above all else, I can finally say I feel part of a community — a place to call home. Thank you.