July 6, 2017
Peggy Schnack, Fellow Alum

Not long after our Mass Deployment to Atlanta, the impact of their weeklong service intensive was apparent to our crew of volunteers. One crew member, Peggy Schnack, shared through our Operation Westside Surge Facebook group a poem about this experience and the impact volunteering has had on her life. Today on the blog we share that poem with our entire Mission Continues family.

I was in a dark place.

A place of despair.

I did not eat



Why don’t you smile anymore?

or laugh,

my niece asked.

I did not recognize myself.

It got to the point that I did not know what normal was anymore.

Or maybe my new normal was the dark night of the soul.

Was what I was living the best life could be for me?

I did not know.

Day to day was the same

not that I really remember most of those days.

Life was happening around me

but I was not living it.


I wondered if I ever really had any.

If I did, it had evaporated

leaving no residual behind.

Support was there



But I did not feel anything

so it did not feel like it mattered

or helped.

I do not know the day.

I do not know the cause.

Ever so slowly

Things started to change.

I caught a glimmer of familiarity in the mirror.

I felt something stir in my soul and the darkness started to fade as light appeared.

Something inside me started to come alive.

On occasion the smile that would appear on my face was real,

instead of the familiar mask I used to hide the emptiness.

Where I could not envision a future of any type for myself,

a future of possibility began to take shape.

And then I would fall

back into the darkness.

Each time it would feel worse

because the brighter the light became as I climbed

the more complete the darkness appeared when I would fall.

And each time I picked myself up,

or was scooped up by others

I would wonder what normal was.

When I felt good, it was good enough.

I had lived for so long under the shadow of depression that I did not remember what a full life could feel like.

So I settled.

This is where my high is.

This is my best.

And then something would happen.

A deployment with Team Rubicon

My Mission Continues Fellowship

Time with family and friends

And I would realize that I could still climb further out of the depths.

That the world could be brighter and more vibrant.

Then the cycle began again.

This place is where my high is.

I’m out of the darkness.

I thought that when I got placed at a church I had come out of the darkness.

I thought I had the confidence to lead and learn and grow within this faith community.

And I was wrong.

And I did not know it until I did not get something done that I was supposed to do.

I realized I was afraid,

and that I was holding myself back with self-sabotage.

But this realization did not come until the mistake was already made.

This realization came while in Atlanta.

Peggy at Operation Westside Surge in Atlanta

Operation Westside Surge.

Just another op?

I thought so,

until it wasn’t.

I was put in a position where I was truly empowered to lead a team to accomplish a challenging and meaningful task with a team of likeminded veterans who wanted to help others as much as I did.

The ambassador of my team gave me a gift that day.

He stepped back.

He gave me the power to make decisions and showed the others on the team how to do the same without making me feel inadequate or unworthy of the role.

This amazing group of people gave me another gift that day.

They helped me to see that I still had to overcome my self-doubt

and that I could overcome it and see great results.

They showed me that I could be vulnerable

and still have their respect.

They taught me how to love myself just a little bit more.

And what started with laughter and silliness running through a splash-pad

became a blooming joy within me.

I see the world around me differently.

I see possibility, hope, and joy.

I see a world where yes, I still have darkness to climb out of,

and that’s ok.

I can be my whole self and still become better every day.

Bumps in the road of healing will happen.

And with a tribe like this one

along with a rekindled faith

I know I can overcome and continue the mission of life.

Charlie Mike.


Want to join us for our next Mass Deployment, Operation Watts Is Worth It, in Los Angeles this June? Learn more and apply at missioncontinues.org/deployments

Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.