JACKSONVILLE – While Nina Raycraft received baby supplies and suggestions from a host of other mothers, she said the most important benefit of attending last Saturday’s Operation Homefront was …
JACKSONVILLE – While Nina Raycraft received baby supplies and suggestions from a host of other mothers, she said the most important benefit of attending last Saturday’s Operation Homefront was knowing others have the same questions.
Military couples were invited to CSX’s headquarters to hear from a host of vendors dedicated to helping military families before and after their babies are born.
Raycraft and her boyfriend, Rodney Salomon, are both in the U.S. Navy and they live in Orange Park.
“I don’t know anything about having a baby. I don’t know anything about being a mother,” Raycraft said. “I got a lot of support here. It helped my pregnancy to talk with somebody who’s been there, too.”
Renee Flores, who retired from the Navy, was at CSX with her third son, Elijah. Flores and her husband, who’s also retired from the Navy, now live in Middleburg. She said despite having three children, Operation Homefront remains a valuable asset.
“I wish this was around for my first two (boys),” she said. “It’s nice to get this much support. It’s not easy when you’re in the military. All three of my boys were born in Naval hospitals.”
The program is part of the railroad’s Pride in Service commitment to assist military and first responder families. Now in its fifth year, Pride in Service connects families with what they need and when needed. Saturday’s gathering was the first for mothers.
Maryclare Kenney, CSX Vice President of Intermodal and Automotive, worked for years to make the baby shower a reality. Part of her drive came from growing up in a military family.
“Traveling and moving can be a challenge,” she said. “I’ve been traveling extensively in my career, and I know when you get to a new location, sometimes it’s challenging. You’re away from your family, and you may not have a neighborhood connection with your civilian peers. That’s really why we’re here today – to show that connection to some wonderful memories.”
The Florida Department of Health, Humana Military, The Fleet and Family Support Center, Military Family Life Counseling, Mama Thrive and Operation Homefront were some of the vendors who provided information and supplies.
“I am part of Fleet and Family, but this has taught me so much,” Raycraft said. “I know everyone else has the same questions. It’s nice to have that kind of support.”