The concepts and ideas of the organization started early in the mind of our Founder, Mark E. Petersen, based on his life experiences. He is always striving to be a part of leadership and direction. As Mark says, “Always be willing to be a part of a solution not the problem”.
At a young age Mark joined organizations for the purpose to serve and help out. Some of these groups were Boy Scouts, Young Life, Youth Groups and other charitable organizations. In Jr. High he was recruited into the Jr. Odd Fellows where he quickly became President, and was soon recognized as the National Jr. Odd Fellow of the year because of his thoughts and actions in leadership. In the President role, he rallied community support for a family that lost everything in a house fire in the 8th grade.
Sometimes his commitment to service and community kept him from always being the greatest student. This is because of always being involved and on the move.
After high school Mark moved on to join the military and go to college. He served for 14 years in the military. He reluctantly resigned after those 14 years and picked up leadership at his local fire department.
In college he got his first degree in Psychology and later moved to Education and Coaching. He also served in leadership as the President of the Student Services Board.
Mark will openly tell you that he is “A Jack of many trades and not really good at any of them”, but his heart has always been in serving.
While as a firefighter for his small community in Minnesota, he started to develop his dream and vision. He realized that many of the small towns in Minnesota are served by volunteer firefighters. Many of these firefighters are sacrificing their personal finances and family times to help serve and protect others. The vision is to have one resort that would be supported by multiple departments, through the Fire Department Relief Associations and fundraising.
This resort will function as a sanctuary for fire departments to gather with their friends and families and the cost will be offset to the families that are giving so much of their time, effort and resources to their community already.
During this time, Mark was also realizing that many of these fire departments were significantly underfunded and this was the reason these civil servants were using personal resources and cutting corners to make sure the members of their communities had at least a functional fire suppression team. Sadly, the underfunding only equates to the absolute essential equipment, maybe outdated equipment, outdated and inefficient training, and the overworked and underappreciated members of the fire department. No one wants to be a part of a fire department that has shoddy and unsafe equipment. Nobody but the ones that want to make a true difference.
So, Mark choose to be a part of the solution. He worked to create fundraising opportunities to make the fire department more functional and create a visual organization that was openly supporting other causes. This created a network that was willing to support those who were serving.
Mark will also make it very clear that nothing he ever did or directed was done by himself. He gives credit where credit is due and nothing he has ever done was done without the help of his friends and colleagues by his side and/or their leadership to begin with. Many times his ideas were spurred by something someone else has done and he just “MOVED FORWARD” with a few modifications and adaptations, but he has always given the full credit to the one that started any idea.
As Mark started to work on the “PROJECT”, he quickly realized that there were more needs than that of the fire departments, as many of his former colleagues, friends and families were being affected by their recent deployment post 911. He noticed how much hurt and division there was, due to the lack of support for our current enlisted men and women. He watched his close friends struggle with alcoholism and other afflictions, and families were being destroyed due to multiple deployments and the stresses brought onto the families because of their choice to serve.
Mark has always had a passion for SERVICE and he does not advocate for non-deployment. He sees the value in our service members being utilized for the protections of all of our well being. Currently his very own son is serving in the military.
For years Mark held the project close to his heart and refused to let it out, because he was worried about people’s ill will and people taking and cannibalizing and/or plagiarizing parts of the mission without the passion and drive behind it.
Mark will also openly say he does not know everything and he does not have all of the answers.
He has opened up to people (friends and colleagues) that are interested in being a part of the “MISSION”. Through his team of supporters he is starting to network more and get his ideas and concepts out.
Our, THE PEOPLE’S PATRIOT PROJECT, mission is to serve. It is to serve those who are serving. WE want to be a support that accommodates the needs of our FELLOW SERVICE MEMBERS.
Our belief and understanding is that not everyone is meant to run into burning buildings, hold the hand of a stranger in medical distress on their last breath, be spat on because they chose to serve and protect and/or go without family and close ones as they are serving overseas.
BUT THEN…. There are the ones that are built for that. WE want to celebrate that. It doesn’t make a person less of a PATRIOT because they don’t fit that mold. There are those who have other gifts of passion and compassion who can SERVE in different ways.