July 2019’s Hometown Hero: New England Veteran Helps Those in Need at Home and Away
For some people, their jobs are more than just vocations.
Our veterans and first responders go above and beyond to keep us safe, and we want to honor them.
The Hometown Hero for July 2019 is Jill Tsiplakis.
Jill was nominated by her husband, who wanted to share her story of helping those in need whether home or away.
Jill served in the United States Army and was deployed to Afghanistan from 2010-11. During that time she served as the only woman in her psychological operations detachment, and these soldiers work to persuade, change, and influence the local populace.
Seeing a need in a province with a less than 2 percent literacy rate, Jill designed, developed and implemented a radio literacy program for the women and children of Afghanistan.
She found traditional Afghan folklore books printed in Pashtu and Dari and had those shipped in from California before hiring local truck drivers to bring the books to the base. She then hired locals to read and record the stories on local Afghan radio stations.
Her goal was to stimulate the economy while also giving the women and children who were denied an education for so long a chance to learn. She put books, solar power radios, and school supplies in pink backpacks and went alongside the infantry on over 30 missions to get these books in the hands of those most deserving.
Her program was a huge success and helped lead to her meeting with the Department of Women's Affairs in Afghanistan and assisting with opening the first two girls middle schools in the province.
Her husband also mentioned that Jill has continued her work with those less fortunate here at home.
In 2016, while working at an alternative high school, Jill learned of a 17-year-old mother in need at the school who was having trouble making ends meet. This spurred Jill to start Stepping Stones Family Services, a nonprofit that provides free diapers, wipes, child care items, groups, and classes to mothers in need across the Greater Merrimack Valley, North Shore, and southern New Hampshire region.
Starting as a once monthly pop-up outreach program, Jill opened office space for the nonprofit in July 2018 and has helped more than 220 families since then.
Jill's husband said she is constantly running from task to task all to help out those in need.
So thank you, Jill, for being a Hometown Hero.
Do you know someone who should be the next Hometown Hero we recognize? Nominate first responders (i.e. police, firefighters, paramedics, etc.) and military veterans that you want recognized here so we can acknowledge their hard work and dedication.
If they are selected, the Hometown Hero of the Month will also win a $100 gift card to Amazon and a $50 gift card to Aroma Joe's.