Operation Second Chance is a grassroots, non-profit organization founded by Maryland resident Cindy McGrew in 2005. The program aims to help wounded veterans and their families nationwide through counseling, hospital visits, daytrips and retreats. Great Clips franchisee Dennis Stevens was introduced to the organization in 2008 and decided he wanted to do his part to help.
Stevens has been with Great Clips for more than 14 years, opening locations across Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. Through his large network, Stevens was connected with Army Col. Hank Tuell, who was looking for someone to guide a few injured veterans on a fishing and rafting retreat in Montana. The journey involved horseback riding, something Stevens was familiar with as a rancher in Red Lodge, Montana, but a challenging task for the traveling soldiers who had been severely injured while serving. After completing his first retreat, Stevens was compelled to become a part of this incredible program.
“I witnessed the astonishing strength of the human body the first time these veterans visited us in Montana,” said Stevens. “Watching them for the first time nine years ago climb onto a horse with no legs and no arms while I rode behind them is a sight I will never forget. That week, I decided it was my calling to get involved.”
Now, Stevens and his wife, Nancy, are organizing their own retreats near Yellowstone National Park, expanding to serve veterans, their wives and even their children.
“We have seen a remarkable change in the people who come for this program,” said Stevens. “It’s a very boutique and intimate operation with no more than six to eight men and women at a time. The entire town pitches in to help by donating meals, hotel rooms and health club memberships for the week. The impact they have on making this a meaningful experience for all those involved has no measure.”
To help raise additional funds to support the organization, Stevens reached out to his Great Clips family for support, earning recognition from the leading national franchise for his acts of kindness and even getting others in the system involved in the program.
“We have generous benefactors that help support our cause and that really embrace Operation Second Chance,” said Stevens. “Airline tickets to get these soldiers out to Montana are not cheap. Many of them have often been cooped up in hospital beds for months. Our goal is to fundraise in whatever way we can to get these men and women here and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of our franchise system.”
Great Clips franchisees nationwide are working to make a difference in their local communities through the brand’s Great Deeds® program. With the Stevens leading the way, the brand remains more committed than ever to strengthen the people and communities it serves by participating in acts of giving, doing and caring.