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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 6, 2012) –After joining the Army when she was only 17 years old, Monica Huffman learned what it means to be a soldier in the U.S. military. Today, long after her four years of active duty service and retirement from the Army Reserves, she found a way to say “thank you” to one young man who also dedicated a portion of his life to serving his country, and to a UCM employee who is helping servicemen and women make difficult transitions to civilian life.
Huffman, who serves as executive assistant to University of Central Missouri President Charles Ambrose, recently paid a visit to UCM’s Military and Veterans Success Center, where she presented her handmade quilts to Zack Lani, a UCM student and Air Force veteran, and Delilah Nichols, coordinator of Military and Veteran Services. The colorful quilts, adorned with patriotic flags, stars, and colors symbolic of the United States, will serve as lasting reminders of the appreciation Huffman has for both individuals and what they have done for others.
“I made both of these quilts several years ago and packed them away knowing someday there would be a purpose for them,” Huffman said. She noted that her initial intention was to contribute them to Quilts of Valor, a national program which awards quilts to service members who were injured primarily during service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lani, who grew up in Hawaii, joined the military out of high school and served as an airman first class in the Middle East. Last stationed at Holloman, Air Force Base, N.M., he was deployed to Qatar and then forward deployed to Bagdad, Iraq. Today, while seeking a degree from UCM, he continues to recover from injuries he sustained when a bomb exploded next to the convoy in which he was traveling.
“I thought this would be a good opportunity to give the quilt to someone locally,” Huffman said. “By presenting it to Zack, it will hopefully bring him some warmth and comfort as he rebuilds his life after his military service. I want him to know there are people who care about him and are here to support him.”
The second quilt was to honor a university employee who is dedicate to helping servicemen and women to advance in their current positions or to pursue new careers after leaving the military. Nichols has played a key role as staff member of the Military and Veterans Success Center, which opened on Veterans Day Nov. 11, 2011. She helps active duty and veteran students with many issues that they encounter as new college students, including getting assistance they may need to cope with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This quilt is something I wanted Delilah to have because I see her commitment and passion for helping those who come to the center,” Huffman said.
Nichols, who worked with Huffman for 11 years prior to her appointment to her current post, said, “Monica has many talents and a very kind heart, and I am honored to receive a quilt in recognition of my work with our service members and veterans.”
She also added, “I am very pleased Zack was selected to receive one of Monica’s quilts. She provided me with the opportunity to help her honor one of our veterans and Zack is an excellent choice. He has served our country well and is deserving of recognition.”