A dozen U.S. Capitol Police officers recently visited Patriot Point for a weekend retreat.
The group arrived on Saturday morning, toured the property, then settled in for a few games of cornhole. About half the group went fishing that afternoon, followed by a dinner of shrimp and chicken with a nighttime bonfire on the beach.
“It was very relaxing,” Officer Tommy DeMar said. “Everyone was excited to get away. We’ve been working 16-hour days for about four months. It was great to talk amongst ourselves in a different environment other than work. It was great to get away. The place is amazing.”
Supporters of Patriot Point organized a recent weekend retreat for eight veterans.
“I put the group together as a mixture of different veteran service organizations that I belong to or participate in events with – the Marine Corps League, Wounded Warrior Project and Delaware Chapter of Veterans,” said John Rego, a U.S. Army veteran who was an Airborne Ranger and served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I had never met most of the guys before. I only knew two of them and only one had been to Patriot Point previously.”
The retreat was sponsored by Patriot Point supporter Bob Basarab of Bel Air Road Supply. Carl Peterson of Nicolock brought a 40-foot boat to take the group out for a day of fishing. Bel Air Road Supply and Nicolock have continually supported Patriot Point, contributing to recent renovations.
As Rego has seen in previous visits to Patriot Point, it did not take long for the group to mesh.
“The first night is always interesting to watch – some guys are a little standoffish and you can tell they have things they are dealing with or don’t know what to expect or how the weekend will pan out,” Rego said.
“But it takes less than 24 hours for that to change. By the second night, everyone is joking with each other, sitting next to someone new, having conversations. It doesn’t matter who you were or where you are from. Slowly but surely you can see them drop their guard as time goes on. The esprit de corps comes out. It makes everybody feel like they’re in the right place.”
One of the veterans was into archery and brought along his bow and arrows and the group practiced its target shooting. Another veteran was into treasure hunting and brought a metal detector – little did the group know it would discover several different old coins while searching along the dune near the beach. Rego sent the coins to a friend who is an archaeologist.
“Stuff like that is so cool,” Rego said. “To make friends like this and have shared experiences.”
On Saturday, Peterson took most of the group out on the water for a splendid day of fishing, while Basarab stayed back at Patriot Point and chatted with one of the veterans who chose to stay on land.
“He served in Iraq and was injured there,” Basarab said. “We hung out all day and got to know each other. Sometimes that means just as much, if not more than, the other stuff. I don’t think he has a lot of people to talk to. He poured it all out. It gave us a little more understanding of what he needed from the weekend.”
After those who went fishing returned, the group relaxed on the patio outside the barn and were entertained by the band Just a Bit Outside.
“It was an awesome weekend,” Basarab said. “I say this every time I visit Patriot Point, but it really was the best weekend!”
The Fort Meade Better Opportunities for Single Service-Members recently brought 21 service members to Patriot Point for a weekend retreat.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second-Class Juan Cuen, who is president of the Fort Meade BOSS program, had visited Patriot Point earlier this spring on a retreat organized by USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore. Cuen saw the impact that Patriot Point made and inquired about bringing a group of service members from Fort Meade.
“It’s awesome and great to see people engage and disconnect from the world and get to know other individuals,” Cuen said. “I feel extremely blessed to come across a sanctuary where I can unwind and connect with people and discuss struggles in life and how to overcome them.”
While Mother Nature did not cooperate during the weekend, as it rained often, the group participated in several indoor activities, including a yoga class and tarot card readings. They also enjoyed a barbecue and played board games before getting to hit the water and go kayaking on Sunday.
“Patriot Point offers everything a person needs to unplug and relax, from kayaking to hiking,” said U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Michele Scates. “The two main buildings are awesome with full kitchen and one big table where your group of 20-plus can eat together and connect over a meal. I will come back the first chance I get!”
“It allowed me to unwind and disconnect from the busy world,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer Third-Class James Sumrall. “Military life can be very stressful and exhausting, so to have a few days away from it all was absolutely perfect. The staff also had a lot of great life advice to give which has helped me even after returning home.”
The pull to give back and support service members led Dennis Cappo to Patriot Point, where his business, Cappo & Associates Landscaping has helped turn the area between the Welcome Center and the Main House into a picturesque setting befitting a hardscape catalog.
“I come from a family where everyone has served and I feel there is an obligation to give back when we can,” Dennis Cappo said. “We may not all be able to afford the big financial donation, but we all can put in hard work, sweat equity and bust our butts to give back. We have got to take care of the guys and gals that have taken care of us and whom have sacrificed so much for America – remember that freedom isn’t free — it’s been paid for by the American warrior! Long live the brotherhood!”
At Patriot Point, Cappo & Associates has played a key role improving the entrance to the Main House, installing pavers in the driveway and creating sidewalks of pavers and personalized bricks donated through the Brick By Brick campaign. Cappo & Associates also installed an exterior stone veneer as part of the recent Main House renovations.
Dennis Cappo also reached out to his suppliers and has secured a donation of materials for a sprinkler system, and his company will donate the installation.
The Goetz family recently visited Patriot Point for a weekend retreat sponsored by Hope for the Warriors.
Lawrence Goetz is a gunnery sergeant currently stationed at Marine Corps headquarters in Quantico, where he is an administrative chief. He has served in the Marine Corps for 17 years. Lawrence, his wife Stephanie and their two children enjoyed a relaxing weekend at Patriot Point, where they were able to fish, hike throughout the property and enjoy indoor and outdoor activities.
“My family and I are truly grateful for being able to spend time at Patriot Point,” Goetz said. “Being there is a break from all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. It was great having a weekend where the whole family stayed off their tablets and phones. It was great being able to rekindle family time that can be easily neglected.
“The impact that Patriot Point has on our service members is truly magical. It is a great place to relax your mind, body, and soul. You are able to spend quality time with your loved ones. Spending time at Patriot Point allows you to reset. Allowing service members to come back to work healthier and more committed to their duties.”
Two U.S. military veterans are planning a race through the Chesapeake Bay this summer as part of an effort to promote mental health for veterans. Chad SeBour, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and the race organizer, and Eduardo Diaz Rico, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Pennsylvania, are training this week at the Slaughter Creek Marina. They plan to use the race to raise money for Patriot Point.
The John Smith Expedition Race begins June 2 with a kickoff event at the Slaughter Creek Marina and Palm Beach Willies. The race then will take the duo and their boat on a 1,000-nautical mile clockwise tour of the Bay, starting and ending in Dorchester County.
“A little more work needs to be done on the boat, but we’re going to take it out for a couple days,” SeBour said, adding that he hopes to livestream much of the journey around the Chesapeake on Facebook. “Get a feel for the boat, get a feel for each other and basic living conditions in such a confined spot.”
Last summer, Pella Mid-Atlantic teamed up with the Home Builders Care Foundation (which is the charitable arm of the Maryland Building Industry Association) to install $100,000 worth of new doors and windows atPatriot Point. The project replaced all of the exterior windows and doors on the 1925 Main House with more than 30 Pella Lifestyle Series Windows and five Pella Brand Entry Doors.
“We’re always looking for progressive ways to give back to the communities in which we do business,” said David Lebowitz, General Manager, Eastern Shore, Pella Mid-Atlantic. “This was an honor and privilege to work with Patriot Point. It was really a pleasure.”
The Home Builders Care Foundation contributed financially to the project and worked with Pella Mid-Atlantic and the Military Bowl Foundation to lead and coordinate the construction efforts.
“We can’t say enough to thank Pella Mid-Atlantic and the Home Builders Care Foundation for their support and generosity,” Military Bowl Foundation President & Executive Director Steve Beck said. “This Tom Sawyer Award is well deserved.”
U.S. Army veteran Will D. recently visited Patriot Point with his wife and two children for a relaxing weekend.
Will, who served from 2005 to 2009 and was an interrogator stationed overseas, now lives in the Washington, D.C., area. He and his family drove to Patriot Point , arriving on Friday and staying until Sunday. They enjoyed a beautiful weekend on the beach, capped by a nighttime bonfire. Will also had the chance to work out in the Under Armour Freedom Fitness Center and tried out Patriot Point’s new shooting range.
“We had a nice, relaxing time,” Will said. “It was very therapeutic. Hugh, Lauren, Mike and Katie rolled out all the stops and we felt so taken care of by everyone. We hope to visit again!”
With the weather warming up, spring landscaping work is in full effect at Patriot Point. Thanks again to Ruppert Landscaping, which continues its generous support of Patriot Point.
This past fall, following the completion of the Main House Phase II renovation, Ruppert donated 22 trees, 50 potted plants and 9,000 square feet of sod which was installed by Patriot Point volunteers. That came after Ruppert donated and installed 15 trees, 50 shrubs, 350 perennials and 10,000 square feet of sod to Patriot Point in 2018.
This spring, Ruppert plans to send a crew to install 1,200 beach grasses it is donating to shore up the dunes along Patriot Point’s waterfront.
“We think Patriot Point is a great organization for our nation’s active-duty and veteran service members,” Ruppert Landscape Operations Manager Casey Cook said. “At Ruppert, we get to pick who we donate to and this is definitely a cause that we like to revisit every year if there is a need, for sure.”
“I love the location. It’s so peaceful.”
Cook still remembers his initial visit to Patriot Point to scope out the property’s landscaping needs. As Cook eyed his surroundings while pulling down the driveway a bald eagle swooped in front of his vehicle.
“We are so appreciative of Ruppert’s incredible ongoing support of Patriot Point,” Military Bowl Foundation President & Executive Director Steve Beck said. “It is thanks to contributions like Ruppert’s that we are able to make Patriot Point such an inviting destination for guests, especially the men and women who serve our country so valiantly.”
It was a busy weekend at Patriot Point, as a group of volunteers from Harkins Builders, Inc. spent a full day taking down several dead trees near the property entrance, finishing up work started the day before by three retired fire fighters. The group from Harkins included three marine veterans, two Navy veterans and one Army veteran.
“What a great day to spend putting in some hard work with a bunch of veterans and first responders,” Harkins vice president Ben Nichols said. “I am still smiling about it. We look forward to contributing again very soon. Please always feel free to reach out if a project pops up without warning.”
“What an amazing effort by both groups,” Patriot Point General Manager Hugh Middleton said. “Those trees have needed to come down for some time and thanks to these volunteers for making it happen. We can’t thank our volunteers enough. The property looks the way it does because of groups like the one from Harkins.”
Relaxing and safe environment to enjoy outdoor recreational activities