Conval School district

Carrying on a caring tradition

Military mom planning support group

ANTRIM — With both a son and a son-in-law enlisted in the U.S. Marines, Susan Ellsworth of Antrim knows the stresses of being a military mother all too well. But she has a plan to channel that stress in a constructive way, banning together with other local mothers, not only to support the troops, but also each other.

Ellsworth knew her son, Scott Howard, was destined for a life of service. Even as a ConVal High School student, he had already begun working in his community, serving with Antrim’s volunteer Fire Department. But she was still surprised when he came to her as a high school senior in 2012 and told her he wanted to join the military.

Her first reaction was fear, Ellsworth said in a phone interview Monday.

“When he first came to me, I said, ‘Why do you need to do this now?’” she said. But Howard knew he came from a long line of men who had served in the military, including his grandfather and uncle, and he felt it was his turn to enlist.

“He said, ‘It’s my turn to give back and protect you all as you sleep,’ and I was so proud of him,” said Ellsworth.

As Howard enlisted in the Marines and entered basic training, Ellsworth wanted to do what she could to support him. She discovered a group in Jaffrey that met several times a year to put together care packages to mail to soldiers serving away from home, and she and her husband joined in to help. But Ellsworth discovered the group was in its last year, dissolving in November as the number of soldiers overseas dwindles.

Ellsworth decided she wants to take on the tradition of making up care packages for soldiers far from home, and has decided to focus on those who have graduated from ConVal. But knowing how difficult it was for her to have her son in the military, she decided it was time for something more: a support group for the mothers who watch their sons and daughters leave home to serve in the military. She has began looking into both ventures, and hopes to put them in place beginning as soon as March.

“I know as a mother, my son’s talking about going to Iraq is enough to make me cry myself to sleep every night,” Ellsworth said. “People have that need for support. If we can lighten anyone’s load, that’s what we’re here for.”

While Ellsworth wants to arrange to send military ConVal graduates packages twice a year around Christmas and Easter, she said the support group could meet as often as once a month just to give each other a boost. She also plans to arrange a few other bonuses for local soldiers throughout the year, such as letter exchanges between local schools and those serving overseas.

After speaking with several other military mothers, Ellsworth said there’s support for both the care packages and support group, and she has begun to set the wheels in motion. She plans to approach local businesses to help fund the postage to send packages at least twice a year. She is also seeking a meeting place to put together the packages and hold support group meetings. Ellsworth hopes to spread the word through local town newsletters and newspapers, and gather interested parties for a preliminary meeting on March 16.

Those interested in joining the support group, or who would like to donate time or funds to support the group’s efforts, may contact Ellsworth at

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or

She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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