POST FALLS, Idaho — It's an honor that nobody wants: to become a Gold Star family.
The gold star represents a family's sacrifice of losing a loved one in a time of conflict. It also represents the enormous pride survivors have in their fallen family members.
Theresa Hart is always helping veterans in her community. Between 75 and 100 veterans and their family members pass through Hart’s Post Falls non-profit, ‘Newby Ginnings,’ each of the three days it’s open during the week.
Hart’s non-profit provides everything from food, to books, furniture, kid’s clothing and even medical equipment. All of it is donated and available to veterans free of charge.
Hart’s work is born of tragedy. In July 2011, her son Nicholas Newby was serving in Iraq with the Idaho National Guard near the end of his deployment, when Hart’s world changed forever.
“He was ten months into a 12 month deployment when his convoy got hit by an [Improvised Explosion Device],” Hart said. “So we lost him and another soldier, Nathan Byers that day.”
Her son’s picture, and the pictures of other fallen soldiers from Idaho, are proudly displayed on her ‘Wall of Heroes.’ Their pictures and stories serve as inspiration for the work she pours her heart into.
From humble beginnings in her garage five years ago, her non-profit now operates out of a 5,700 square foot facility just off I-90. A team of roughly 30 volunteers sort the donations, keep the inventory organized and help the people who pass through their doors.
People like Wynn Koehler, whose husband is a disabled veteran.
“It’s been very helpful, we come to the little food bank they have and we get food, because we’re in the middle of a move,” Koehler said. “Furniture, clothes – we come here. I’ve come here when I didn’t have money for diapers.”
Hart is quick to point out that she couldn’t do all of this without a lot of help from the community. Beyond everything inside, the artwork on the front of their building, the moving van parked out back and even the camouflage wrap-job were all donated.
While nothing can replace her son, this Gold Star mom now takes comfort in the love and support of an entire community.
“It boggles my mind. It feels really good. It feels really good to be able to talk about Nick every day,” Hart said. “You know, I don’t want anybody to ever forget about him and I feel sorry for any person who never had a chance to know him. So, I feel like they can get to meet him or see him through me.”