Plans for The Future

Hello everyone,

This is Debra Zerr, the founder, and president of Connecting & Protecting. I know recently my project/organization has not been very active and nothing has been posted in a while. I am so happy that our current supporters are still with us and I am very grateful for you.

Despite all the inactivity, I still have plans to ensure this project succeeds. For some insight, here are some plans or ideas I have for the future.

  1. Hosting/Creating a new event over the summer.
  2. Posting more interviews
  3. Creating more KaHoots games
  4. Completing some current posts for the website.

Now, this does not seem like a lot, but I promise it will be worth your while. I’m very excited to start working on the concepts of #1 and bringing it up with my volunteers. Once all the details are set, I’ll announce the event formally.

I really hope each of you continues to support my organization. Again, I thank you for all your patience and faithful support.


Debra Zerr


December News

During the winter, Connecting & Protecting reaching out never ceases, we get busy with plans, projects, and new additions! This month we set out to send good tidings to those who volunteer with us and protect our nation!


  • We’re still looking for willing volunteers to help with events during the summer and year around projects! Fill out the information form below to learn more about what being a C&P Volunteer means!
  • Interested in having one of our events offered hosted for you or your group? Fill out the request form below to find out more information and reserve your spot today!

Meet our new team members!

  1. Chase Hamling, Facebook Page and Website Co-Manager
  2. Delanie Stephens, Quick Facts Researcher
  3. Haley Huser, Interview Editor
  4. Austin Cito, Newsletter Editor

Articles and videos that hit our Facebook Page:

  1. Military Helicopters Deployed to California
  2. A Soldier’s Christmas
  3. US Army Sniper School

Military Holiday Project:

  • In the month of December, Debra and volunteers came together to bring some holiday cheer to the local recruiter offices.

View the article here!


We added a new quick fact article this month! Learn more about the Army’s Boot Camp here!

That’s all we have for this month’s newsletter! We have some great announcements that will be released over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Missed November’s newsletter? Click here to read it!

Boot Camp Facts: Air Force

How long is boot camp? 8 and a half weeks!

What are the trainees called at boot camp? Recruits!

In the Air Force, the mentors for recruits are Military Training Instructors!

Where is boot camp located? Only 1 location, Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas!

Check back every other week for more quick facts!

This post was researched by Delanie Stephens.

Boot Camp Facts: Army

How long is boot camp? 10 weeks!

What are the trainees called at boot camp? Recruits!

In the Army, the mentors for recruits are Drill Sergeants!

Where is boot camp located? 5 locations!

  1. BCT: Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia
  2. Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina
  3. Fort Leonard Wood in Waynesville, Missouri
  4. Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma
  5. Fort Knox in Louisville, Kentucky

Remember to keep checking back every other week for more quick facts!

This post was researched by Delanie Stephens.

Military Holiday Project

At the beginning of December, Debra brought a new idea to her volunteers to show appreciation to the military who helped her all these years.


Through lots of coordination and planning, Debra also managed to get her National Honor Society group to help out too!


After all the planning and preparations were complete, Debra and her co-leader set the dates for the party and delivery day.

The baking and card making party was held December 13th, 2017. After 3 hours, 35 cards and dozens of cookies were made.

Each card was hand-written inside to wish the military a “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year” as well as thanking them for their service.

Three different cookie recipes were made and put on festive Santa plates.

Finally, on December 18th the gifts were delivered to 5 recruitment offices in Arvada, Westminster, and Longmont.

“It was so much fun doing something so festive for the people I appreciate so greatly for helping me these past years. Their smiles when I gave them the cookies and cards were absolutely priceless.”

~ Debra Zerr

Debra and the volunteers hope more people will want to bring joy to men and women in the offices as each year passes so that every office gets something sweet for the holidays.

From all of us, Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

This post was created by Debra Zerr. Photos were taken during the process.

November News

The month of November was all about taking time off and honoring veterans. We also made plans for something special!

  1. Marine Corps Birthday was Nov 10th. From everyone at Connecting & Protecting, happy 242nd birthday Marines!

Watch their Birthday Video here!

  1. Nov 11th was Veteran’s Day and the USMC Memorial in Golden hosted their ceremony 2 PM. The ceremony was filled with honor and glory to those who have served our country.
  2. We updated our business hours! Check below to see our new hours!

Mon-Wed: 11:00 AM-6:00 PM
Thurs: 10:00 AM-6:30 PM
Fri: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
Sat: 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Sun: Closed

  1. We were closed Thanksgiving to let our volunteers enjoy time with their friends and family!


  1. We are still in need of volunteers! Fill out the interest form below if you would like to learn more about how you can help!
  2. Interested in requesting an event from us for the 2018 season? Fill out the interest form below!


The month of December brings a joyous holiday and a sweet volunteer action! Check our next newsletter to find out what it was!

Missed our last newsletter? Read it here!

October News

October was an eventful month for Connecting and Protecting with many fun things happening.

1. Navy Birthday was Oct 13th. They turned 242.
2. A post on our founder’s Facebook page included photos of her name on the Gold Award Plaque in the Girl Scouts Council office.

3. The US Marine Corps Memorial Veterans Day ceremony was Nov 11th at 2 PM. It was a beautiful ceremony.

Here are some links to videos and posts that floated through our Facebook Page:

About a US Coast Guard Cutter

Navy Birthday video

Special Article from Debra

“I never intended to share my essay or insult anyone through it. I saw it as a major personal growth story that I want everyone to know. Even though I only mentioned one person, I could write a novel about each individual and what they did for me.”

~ Debra Zerr, President of C&P

Girl Scouts Founder Birthday


  • We had a special event happen this month, follow the link to learn more!

Care Packages for Military

  • We are still in need of volunteers for Connecting and Protecting in general and for the events! Fill out the contact form below for more information.

Thanks for all the continuing support!

Missed our September News? Read it here!

My Heroes: Special Post Shared by Debra Zerr

     Below is an essay Debra wrote about her project for school. She wanted to share it with all of the Connectors. Enjoy!

In June of 2015, I embarked on the journey of earning the Girl Scout Gold Award: the highest award in the organization. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. Not because I got the award, but the people I had the privilege of meeting and life skills I acquired vastly helped me, even to this day. My project, Connecting & Protecting, was and still is, to bring attention to those who often fall into the shadows of our society. The very group of people very few actually know, the United States Military. It consisted of six parts and over one hundred team members, all passionately fighting towards the same goal (connection between the general public and the military). The star team members were the men and women in the military who dedicated their time and energy to helping this project up on its feet. One gentleman, in particular, stood out from the rest. This gentleman’s name is Staff Sergeant Keith Carter of the Marine Corps.

By July I had faced 4 rejections towards my project from council. They didn’t like something about it every time I tried to turn in my proposal. I had an awful assigned mentor from Girl Scouts and I felt like giving up on it all. It was like I was the only one who saw the need and purpose of my project, but no one else wanted to try or listen. Four days before I was hoping to be approved to be interviewed by council, my mentor told me to get some military on my team to prove the purpose of my project. I was furious with her, but I did what she told me anyway. I researched phone numbers for the local recruiting stations around where I lived and made my first phone call.

The dial and ring of the phone on my end filled me with nerves and anxiety. I felt my stomach caving in while my head scrambled to find the right words to say when someone answered. Then the ring stopped and a man’s voice spoke quickly on the other end, I didn’t catch his name. My mind went blank and the butterflies fell to the pit of my stomach. I somehow found the courage to finally spit out a stuttered “hello” and tell him my name. The man was silent, so I took a deep breath and continued.

“I am working on my Girl Scout Gold Award project, which is the highest award. Most of the parts are happening at the US Marine Corps Memorial in Golden-“

“I love it,” he said, cutting me off mid-sentence.

I could hear his smile through his voice. I suddenly let out a muffled breath of relief and we shared an awkward laugh together before I continued. He listened carefully and I found his kind laughter through the phone to be relaxing. After I concluded my description over phone, I asked him if I could meet with him the next morning. He cheerfully agreed and we both hung up the phone.

The feeling of joy and success rushed through my veins uncontrollably. After so many rejections and hardships, I had finally received my first “yes” from someone. At this point, I didn’t even care that there was still a chance he could say no to helping me, I just felt overwhelmingly happy with the fact I had did it. I had made a phone call and successfully communicated despite the stuttering and butterflies in my stomach. A sense of pride and confidence rushed through me, which motivated me to give my project one last try. All these feelings helped me prepare for meeting properly and have the courage to stand up against those who hated my project.

The time had come for the meeting with the Marine I had spoken with on the phone had arrived. Those dreaded butterflies filled my stomach once more, making me feel nauseous. As we got closer to the office, I went pale and the doubts started filling my head. “You can’t do this.”, “Your project has no purpose.”, and “You’re going to fail.” crowded my mind like the streets of New York City. Those few words said by many had made me believe I couldn’t do anything. I had arrived finally and walked through the door. I glanced around the room to try to find the man. All the other recruiters looked at me confused and serious-like. Then I turned my head to the right and there, sat a man with the biggest smile on his face. All the feelings of anxiety and doubt instantly rushed out of me and replaced with a sense of assurance that I was going to be okay. I walked over to him and shook his hand.

“Hi, I’m Debra, we spoke on the phone about a project I’m doing,” I said confidently.

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you, I’m Sergeant Keith Carter. Take a seat and tell me more about this project of yours,” he stated while motioning me to a chair directly across from him.

I sat down and started telling him more. Starting with some background of who I am and why I chose this as my project. He kept smiling and had that look of enthusiasm in his eyes as I explained even further what the award is and what my plans are for the project. I cracked some jokes to help relax the atmosphere and showed him documents. I could feel me becoming more comfortable and confident as I kept going. Finally, I concluded all I needed to explain, he asked some questions, I answered, and then I finally asked the one question that would confirm the fate of my project.

“So, will you help me with my project, sir?” I asked.

“Absolutely!” Sgt. Carter said enthusiastically.

The smile that came from me following after he said yes was one of the biggest smiles I had shared with people in a while. After I had said goodbye and left the meeting, I sat down at a Starbucks and added Sgt. Carter to my team and proposal. I instantly sent it in and within a few hours I got notified that I was approved to be interviewed in two days at the Colorado Girl Scout Council’s Office. I scrambled for those two days to prepare and gather all my information quickly. The day finally came for the interview/presentation with council. That night is mostly a blur in my head, I mainly remember getting very frustrated and wanting to prove council wrong. Which was my feelings towards those people since the very beginning.

Further along when my project had finally been fully approved, I started calling other military members. All as astoundingly willing to help me as Sgt. Carter. They shared similar qualities with him, but none were as enthusiastic about my project. It made it really easy to keep chugging along in my project because I had such a strong support from the military. He listened, which I find to be a very good quality to have when it comes to a business relationship. I called him to let him know that the project was moving forward and he went out of his way to set up a brief 10-minute meeting with me to just ask how I was doing since meeting him. That taught me to be compassionate to all, regardless of how busy my life is at the time.

Once the fall of 2015 rolled around, the majority of my project had been completed, but I had family and school things to tend to, which didn’t bother any of the military at all. They were all patient with me. It was December when I had finally contacted him and the others to interview them for my website I had built. They remembered who I was and were absolutely ecstatic to be interviewed for my website. SSgt. Carter (newly promoted) was especially excited to finally share his story with the world and give his opinion on my project. This taught me two things: patience with all is key, especially since you don’t always know what they’re going through and to not be scared to speak up when you want your voice to be heard.

Finally the time came for me to present my project to council. I was preparing for my presentation, I called him and asked if he would be there, as I expected, he said yes. And, as always, he asked how the preparations were going and I was more than honest with him that I was nervous and scared. He made sure I knew he had full confidence in me and that I could do it. This taught me to be a strong role model to everyone and to speak sincerely when encouraging others.  The next day after my presentation, I had received news that I earned the award. SSgt. Carter and all the military showed me how proud they were and that they would stand by my side forever, I had earned their respect. This strengthened my loyalty to all people who deserve it and how to never shy away from feeling proud of my accomplishments without feeling like I was bragging.

SSgt. Carter taught me so many things, all of the military did throughout the process and still do to this day. I could go on forever with many stories and lessons I learned during my project, but the most important ones I listed and the final one is this; when you strive for success and face the toughest of challenges, you will be unstoppable. I understand what that means now and agree with SSgt. Carter. Before this project, I did not think I was capable of accomplishing something this large and touching so many people’s hearts. I gained confidence and determination – the keys to get what you want. In conclusion, SSgt. Keith Carter of the Marine Corps and all the military are more than just heroes of our nation, they are my heroes who helped me be a better person.

September News

This month at Connecting & Protecting has been a quiet one. We have a few things to report to you though!


  • We’re looking for event requests for the 2018 season! Click here to submit a request.
  • We are in need of more yearly and season event volunteers! If you are interested fill out the form below.


Did you know that we accept requests to have a story put on our Facebook Page and website? If you have a story on how you showed respect to the military, contact us today!

  • Here’s a story we had the honor to share on our Facebook!

Kris Breth’s Story

We’ve been trying to locate more interviewees to bring more great stories to our website for you to read! Did you get a chance to read Laura Bostwick’s interview?

IMG_3844.jpg CROP



“…When we got on scene the boat was completely submerged in water, but they were still in it…”

~ BM1 Laura Bostwick


September 11th, 2017:

On 9/11 we honored those lost in the deadly attack on American soil. To show our remembrance we reshared our post from last year and shared a photo of the booth at Debra’s college. We also took the day to remember them.

Read the article here!

The Photo of the Booth.

September 18th, 2017:

The Air Force celebrated their 70th birthday! Read the article we shared here!

Important dates from September;

September 11th: Patriot Day
(9/11 Remembrance Day)

September 17th: Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day)

September 18th: US Air Force (USAF) Birthday

3rd Friday in September: National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Last Sunday in September: Gold Star Mother’s Day


That’s all the news we have for this month! Miss our summer news? Read it here!

Active Duty Interview: Laura Bostwick

I know I haven’t been posting many interviews recently, but when I do I always meet the most extraordinary types of people. Their stories inspire me to keep going and to never give up hope. When I interviewed BM1 Bostwick, I felt closer to the military even more. It was an honor to learn her story and I hope the rest of you will be inspired by her.


IMG_3844.jpg CROPBoatswain’s Mate First Class Laura Bostwick

 United States Coast Guard

With fourteen years of dedicated service to her country, BM1 Laura Bostwick definitely has had a worthwhile career. Her story is unique and fun with many experiences to share.

Why did you decide to join the Coast Guard?

I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of opportunities for myself in Montana. I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do in life. So, when I saw the opportunity the Coast Guard was offering I figured it would be the best fit for me.

Where have you been stationed?

Boot Camp – Cape May, NJ

Small Boat Station – Cape May, NJ

Small Boat Station – New Orleans, LA

Coast Guard Cutter Saginaw – Mobile, Alabama

Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe – California

I was the Executive Petty Officer at Small Boat Station/Aids to Navigation Team – Burlington, Vermont

Recruiting – Westminster, Colorado

What will be your next station after here?

I’m hoping to get selected for the Coast Guard’s physician’s assistant program which would send me to school in Texas

How do you feel while you are in the military? (Successful, lonely, etc…)

I felt pretty content. Everything that I have done has been, for the most part, fun and rewarding. My job has been mostly search and rescue missions, which is fun, exciting, and thankfully positive outcomes. So, my career has been mostly successful.

What has it been like while you’ve been serving? (Rough, thrilling, etc…)

There are times when it gets stressful and exhausting, but I think that’s kind of how it is with any job. I’ve been lucky enough to have a fun experience even though I was tired or stressed. I get to drive boats for a living, which to me isn’t like a normal job for most people. So if I was having a bad day or didn’t feel like being in the office, I didn’t have to be. I could go out and do training or do something out on the water. It’s a really easy way to turn your day around. I have really enjoyed all of it.

What was training like for you?

Boot camp for me was quick. It was much faster for me than I thought. Yes, it was difficult initially because you’re not what the whole military world is, how you’re supposed to be answering questions, and they tell you how you’re supposed to, but your brain’s not working correctly so you can’t do it the way they want you to and you get in trouble. Eventually you figure it out and it flies by really fast. It was the most exhausting experience I’ve had in my life. It was definitely an experience that not that many people would go through.

I didn’t go to a school, I STRUCK which is a type of on the job training to become a Boatswains Mate. They did send me to a piloting and navigating school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for three weeks, which was a new program they were trying out. It didn’t last very long, but it was a lot of fun. It was in the Merchant Marine Academy. So, I got to train on a lot of the equipment that the Merchant Mariners get to use and it’s really nice equipment. I learned quite a lot about piloting a navigation, which I wouldn’t have learned quite as much if I would’ve just stayed at my unit and done it.

You enlisted, what was your experience like with that process?

It was pretty quick. I, unfortunately, didn’t really understand what I was doing throughout the process. It really wasn’t explained to me. Thankfully my brother was going through it at the same time and he understood it better and made sure to explain it to me. He made sure to explain it to me. I did choose to enlist for six years instead of four because I had the intention to make it a 20-year career from the beginning even though I didn’t necessarily know what I was getting myself into. It was a pretty painless process. I just signed the paperwork, took the tests, and got into MEPS to make sure I was qualified.

I tried to be physically prepared for by running, doing push-ups, and sit-ups. I was not very good at push-ups, so I worked on those quite a bit before I went to boot camp. I think that little preparation did help because I don’t think I would’ve passed everything on the first try without it.

What is your job in the Coast Guard?

Boatswain’s Mates drive the boats and many other things that include law enforcement, aids to navigation, ice rescue. We’re involved in pretty much every mission the Coast Guard has.

Do you feel like you’ve built good friendships while serving?

I have! I joined at a time when there weren’t as many women in the position that I’m in at the time. So, I feel like I missed out on having as many friendships with women and I feel like it’s kind of a necessary support system to have in the Coast Guard or in any military branch. However, I have been very fortunate with the few wonderful women and men I’ve been stationed with who aren’t afraid to be friends with a woman. So, I’ve been very lucky with the friendships I’ve had for the past 14 years. It’s a good idea to keep those connections that you make so that you have people who understand what you’re going through in any situation.

What does your family think of you being in the military?

They think it’s pretty cool! My mother is very proud and wears her sweatshirts and my dad always wants the hat so that he can advertise that I’m in the Coast Guard. My children think it’s cool just because I drive boats and they were very disappointed that we’re now at a unit where they can’t come to play on the boats every once in a while. But, at the same time, it is very difficult for them because they get moved around quite a bit. They like the traveling and they like seeing new places, but they don’t like leaving their friends behind which is completely understandable. They have mixed feelings when it comes to that part of my job. If they could stay in one place forever they would really like the job that I have.

Were there any moments you’ve been afraid?

I would say I was afraid, but every time I’m doing something I get a little nervous. It’s because you want to make sure you’re getting to wherever you need to be to rescue whoever you’re supposed to be helping. You’re also nervous to make sure that your crew is ready for the mission. I have a lot of respect for water because it’s a much bigger force than me or the boat that I’m on. So whenever I was getting ready to go under way I always had a little bit of nervousness or just a little bit of trepidation to make sure that the boat is running, the sea state isn’t going to turn, or the weather isn’t going to get really bad.

The only time that I was really scared was when I was on the 41-foot boat and we got into a situation with a 65-foot head boat where I thought things were going to end well, but thankfully they did and nobody was injured. That was the first time I was very fearful when I thought something was going to end up happening.

Then the other time was jumping through the ice. Your whole life you’re told not to walk on ice or jump on the ice, but when you’re doing ice rescue the first thing you need to do a self-rescue and when you’re doing that you have to jump through the ice. After the first initial jump in training, it becomes a lot of fun.

Do you feel like your career in the military is a successful and fulfilling one?

Absolutely! I plan on going the full 20 years.

Any stories you’d like to share?

There was a time at my last unit where we had three people in the water because they got underway for a fishing tournament and their boat was too small for the sea state at the time so the ocean just swamped their boat quickly. There was a little six-year-old, 19-year-old which was his uncle, and his father. When we got on scene the boat was completely submerged in water, but they were still in it. I was on the bow of the boat trying to get the six-year-old and the 19-year-old uncle was freaking out so much that he jumped up on the bow before I could even get the six-year-old. The little six-year-old just sat there cold and shaking patiently. I remember thinking this is not how I thought this was going to go. I thought I was going to get the child first before the adults. But the little six-year-old was just sitting there as brave as can be. He had complete trust in his father and that we were going to help him. They were all absolutely fine when we got back to the unit and they didn’t need medical attention. It was one of those positive outcomes that could have ended not as well as it did.

What do you see yourself doing after the military?

That is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I really have no idea. I kind of know where I’d like to be, but I don’t know what I’d like to do. I’m hoping to put myself in a position where I can completely retire or work as a physician’s assistant which is a program I’m trying to get into through the Coast Guard. I’d like to be in Washington.


The final two questions below give the interviewee the opportunity to share their voice in the issue “Connecting & Protecting” is addressing.

Do you feel like there is a disconnection between the military and the general public?

I do! I feel like the military people see in movies gives them a slight idea of what the military is in general. With the Coast Guard being as small as it is, I don’t think the general public has any idea what we do unless you’ve lived on the coast. So they can’t really correlate anything with the Coast Guard specifically. A lot of times when I tell people I’m in the Coast Guard they think National Guard. Then I have to explain what the Coast Guard is and what we do but it still doesn’t connect. So the Coast Guard being as small as it is we are not really able to advertise as much so our missions are one of our biggest advertisements. It is how we’re seen.

Do you have any ideas on how this issue could be resolved?

The military, in general, need to put our personal experiences into things. So whenever we’re meeting with people, schools, events, etc. I think the personal experiences make a lot more sense than trying to explain what our job is to people. If you could tell a story and get people to see it from your viewpoint, I think that would follow through or crossover and make a lot more sense and get people interested. I think also getting ourselves out there more, wearing the uniform, and telling the stories that we have would help a lot. Especially a lot more positive stories since the negative ones are shared so much and most of the time it’s not the negative view. I also think what you’re doing is pretty awesome and it does help. If it could get even further out of the Colorado area and reach more people that would be cool as well.