Suzette Shields, a disabled veteran, served in the U.S. Army for a number of years, including a deployment to Somalia. With $1,000 in her pocket from the Pay It Forward Challenge, she sets out to surprise some deserving people in Baltimore.
Suzette starts with a trip to the base commissary at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. She volunteers to pay bills for two shoppers. The first is a young soldier picking up a few groceries. Suzette remembers what it was like to be in his shoes, just starting out, with very little money to spare. Next, she helps a woman who is living on a limited income since her husband, who was retired military, passed away.
Through a friend, Suzette hears about a military family struggling to keep up with bills. Elicia Henson is a mother of three whose fiancé joined the National Guard to provide a source of income. Suzette gives the family $200 for household bills. Another $200 goes to the family of a solider who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq. His parents plan to use the money for gas and tolls as they visit their son during his long recovery.
Suzette uses her remaining $500 for a special project. She buys a camera and video equipment to help the Baltimore VA Hospital record stories for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, which documents stories of wartime service.
"I felt good, but there is so much more that needs to be done," Suzette says. "A lot of people have forgotten about the veterans."