Karen Brewster (Photo/Andy Weigl, Weigl Photography)
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – Karen Brewster of Northborough got quite a surprise on her birthday Aug. 5. She was presented the Presidential Volunteer Service Award by the Family Readiness Group (FRG) at the Massachusetts National Guard unit where her daughter, Spc. Alysia Brewster, is stationed. Also, her son, Spc. Nicholas Brewster, is serving in the Army and currently deployed in the Middle East. Brewster volunteers as the unit’s FRG chair.
“I have a lot of pride in what my kids are doing,” she shared. “I’m aware of the sacrifices that service members make to do their job.”
According to the Wikipedia overview, “FRGs are established to provide activities and support to enhance the flow of information, increase the resiliency of unit soldiers and their families, provide practical tools for adjusting to military deployments and separations, and enhance the wellbeing and esprit de corps within the unit.”
Brewster clocked over 100 volunteer hours for the FRG in 2016 with phone calls, emails, and organizing events. She feels that receiving the recognition at the FRG Family Day was the ideal occasion and location.
“The entire unit and all their family members were there,” she noted. “I volunteer to make things easier for all of them, so they don’t have to worry about anything. They can enjoy their time together. Sometimes it can be doing little things. If it’s somebody’s birthday then I’ll make cupcakes for them to bring to drill.”
A member of the American Legion Auxiliary Vincent F. Picard Post 234 in Northborough, Brewster shares weekly reminders with her Facebook friends to pay tribute to military service members on RED (Remember Everyone Deployed) Friday.
“My RED Friday shout-out brings awareness that we have service members deployed even though everything is not always in the news right now,” she said. “We want the troops to know they have our love and support from home.”
Additionally, Brewster volunteers to help others in the military. With the mission of sending care packages to deployed service members, she was a founder in 2015 of Boros Cares 4 Troops (BC4T) along with other Northborough residents Leslie Arsenault, Beth Davison and Michelle Gillespie. Since its founding, BC4T has expanded its mission, Brewster noted.
“Now, we’re encompassing veterans at home with some local outreach and education,” she said. “We have people who fought for our country, quietly going about their lives. They deserve our thanks and respect.”
BC4T has organized social events for veterans including a holiday party. The organization recently gave new furniture to a local veteran in need of assistance. While BC4T is Northborough based, its founders extend their efforts beyond the boroughs.
“We don’t want any parameters; we want to keep branching out,” Brewster said.
For more information about BC4T, including lists of needed items to donate and drop-off locations, visit bc4t.org and on Facebook at facebook.com/wearebc4t. Monetary donations toward shipping charges and purchasing items such as phone cards can be made online, or postal mailed by check payable to “Boros Cares 4 Troops,” P.O. Box 304, Northborough, MA 01532.