09banquetSaturday, April 21, One Common Bond will host the “Connect” All-American Community Service Awards Banquet. Proceeds from the event will go toward helping One Common Bond provide grief care packages to Gold Star families in North Carolina.

One Common Bond is a nonprofit organization founded in Fayetteville by Kimberly Franco to assist those affected by sudden loss. One Common Bond offers a variety of services, includinggrief packages tailored to meet individual needs. These packages often include information on dealing with grief in healthy ways as well as journals, children’s books and encouragement cards. The organization often sends these donated packages to the families of fallen service members. Recently, Franco and her team have provided grief packages for each of the families affected by the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Franco’s reasons for founding One Common Bond are personal. “I was a captain in the army with 22 years of service when I lost my brother to suicide,” she said. “It was very devastating for me and my family, which is why I asked the Army for an early retirement. I knew that I wanted to devote 100 percent of my time to suicide prevention.” Her work with suicide prevention in the Army Reserves showed her the deficiencies of that system – specifically the minimal aid that went to military families after the loss of a loved one. “Starting this nonprofit allowed me to do what I felt was lacking and provide muchneeded resources for the grief journey,” said Franco.

Her focus over the years has remained steady even if her approach has evolved. According to Franco, “I have changed my speaking points from saying ‘suicide prevention’ to saying, ‘life promotion.’ It is important to promote life.” And that, she said, is exactly what the All-American Community Service Awards Banquet is all about – promoting life and promoting people who have a passion for service.

The banquet will recognize outstanding community service volunteers and leaders at Fort Bragg as well as those who live in Hope Mills, Spring Lake, Raeford, Fayetteville and other surrounding cities. Awards will be presented in the following categories: City Impact, Children Impact, Global Impact and Achieving Community Excellence (ACE) – a category for youth under 18 years old.

According to Franco, the banquet recognizes those who are doing wonderful work in the field of community service while it also serves as the major fundraiser for One Common Bond. Proceeds from the banquet will help the organization send grief packages those who need them, free of charge. “Our desire,” said Franco, “is to provide the gifts to every Gold Star Family within the state of North Carolina.”

The evening will kick off with an expo highlighting life-promoting businesses. There will be a keynote address by Jennifer Loredo and music by soloist Aliciah Small, a student at Fayetteville State University. The evening will culminate with the awards ceremony, featuring special awards presentations from Fayetteville Mayor, Mitch Colvin, and Miss Fayetteville, Danielle Herset.

For more information on the work and mission of One Common Bond, visit www.1commonbond.org. For specific questions concerning the services offered by the clinic or for information on donating, One Common Bond can be reached by phone at 706-304- 7276 or by email at 1CommonBond@gmail.com.

The “Connect” All-American Community Service Awards Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, at True Vine Ministries, J Center at 5315 Morganton Rd. The event is scheduled to run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at www.connectnorthcarolina.com.

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