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Greatest Person: Lori Gates

Her tireless dedication to area military members past and present has earned Lori Gates designation as an Enfield Patch Greatest Person.

Running a household with three pre-teen children would ordinarily not allow someone much free time to devote to helping others, but Lori Gates is an extraordinary exception.

Just over two years ago, the six-year Enfield resident launched Enfield Hooah, a website dedicated to saluting hometown military heroes of the past, present and future.

For her work to honor veterans and service members, Lori was chosen to be honored as the Huffington Post's Greatest Person of the Day.

Hooah is a U.S. Army battle cry used by soldiers and also by U.S. Air Force airmen "referring to or meaning anything and everything except no," according to Wikipedia. "It is a form of the acronym HUA, meaning 'Heard, understood and acknowledged'," Gates said.

Since the website launched, Gates has collected nearly 70 biographies of local active and retired military personnel. "Hopefully as time moves along, we will collect many more, because we all know there are many more amongst us," she said.

In addition to constantly updating the site with biographies, photos and videos, the wife of retired Army 1st Sgt. Terrill Gates has become actively involved in a number of area events honoring and supporting members of the military.

The "Adopt a Soldier" program began in Feb. 2010, and since that time, 25 service members with ties to Enfield have been sent a total of 101 care packages, weighing a collective 1,469 pounds.

Last November, Gates organized the first "Cookies For Camouflage" campaign, collecting 346 pounds of baked goods for service members deployed overseas. She and other volunteers topped that last month, sending 551 pounds of cookies in 52 boxes.

She gets tremendous satisfaction knowing how much the efforts are appreciated. She recently received an email from Sgt. Ryan Holloway, a Marine stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which read:

"My unit and I have received the packages you and Enfield Hooah have sent. We are very grateful. I have just found time and the means to email you and thank you. It really means a lot to me and my fellow Marines for your kindness. It really does help and the food was amazing! I just hope we will be able to fit on the plane for the ride home come May! Ha-ha Thank you again and please thank everyone else that has pitched in to make our holidays and just every day in general better. I don’t think we could do it without you all that give us this great support. Thanks again and when I am home on leave I would like to thank you and everyone involved in person. VMA-223 and I cannot thank you enough. I hope you had a great Christmas!"

Gates was instrumental in the success of a pair of significant events involving Enfield veterans.

She approached the Enfield Town Council in August 2010 with a proposal to name the baseball fields at Mark Twain Park after a pair of Enfield Marines who lost their lives in the Global War on Terror. The ballfields at the newly-renamed Veterans Memorial Athletic Complex were dedicated to on May 28, 2011.

Gates serves on the local organizing committee for the annual campaign, and in December, through a chance conversation, she arranged to have a tractor-trailer loaded with wreaths break off the Maine-to-Arlington convoy to stop for a at Parkman Elementary School.

Those events garnered much publicity, but Gates said she is proud of other things the group has done outside the limelight. "Volunteers from Enfield Hooah gathered together in May 2011 to assist an elderly veteran with a blight issue at his home," she said. "Within two hours, we had his yard completely cleared."

When asked why she does so much work on behalf of Enfield Hooah, Gates replied, "It's rewarding because you get to touch somebody else's life when they probably need it the most. Whether it's the family that needs the support, or the service member who's overseas, or the veteran who needs help with something. The other part is, you don't hear from the good people a lot, and there's so much good that's out there. This is a nice way to get everybody involved in the community, so they can come out and make a difference."

Tracy Hackett December 27, 2011 at 09:10 PM
So proud to call Lori my friend...Hooah!!!!
Susan Falvo December 27, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Your story about Lori Gates is timely. She is my niece, and one of my great pride and joys. She has accomplished so much in her two years helping Military men/women and their families!! She is a shining star in our family, and we love and appreciate her. And we appreciate your acknowledgement of all she does. Susan Falvo, Wethersfield, Ct.
Rick Bednar December 27, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Dear Mr. Jensen, You couldn't have picked a better person to honor! I am a Cold War Veteran and most military organizations do not have a place for us. We have been forgotten until Lori gave us a home. It's an honor to be a part of her extended family, to be accepted and to help our heroes currently serving. Hooah Lori and thanks to the Enfield Patch. Sincerely, Rick Bednar U.S. Army Veteran and Hooah member
Scott Kaupin December 28, 2011 at 12:04 AM
Great article Tim and thanks for honoring Lori Gates. She truly is one of our community heroes! Lori and EnfieldHooah have done so much to benefit our town, our veterans and those serving our country today. This is a well deserved honor!
Pat Droney December 28, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Awesome article Tim. Lori is an inspiration to all of us who aspire to do and be something important. She is an exceptional person who has made a difference in the lives of so many of our heroes. She is a true patriot.
Eva Carragher January 13, 2012 at 02:32 AM
My husband is currently serving in Afghanistan with several other men from his unit. They have spoke of the packages that they have received from this group and it brings warmth to my heart to know that they aren't forgotten.

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