November 10, 2021
This was a mission close to Kati Nolan’s heart.
Each year, at Pecatonica Middle School, just outside of our hometown of Rockford, Illinois, students assemble care packages to be distributed at the school’s Veterans Day celebration. This year Fire Dept. Coffee has helped send a coffee care package to local military members serving around the world.
Kati is an Army veteran and now a rockstar shipping manager for Fire Dept. Coffee. She jumped at the opportunity, and she led the way in coordinating our donation of 200 bags of coffee and 200 military-themed stickers to be shared with our heroes in the armed services.
It is an honor for Fire Dept. Coffee to give back to the men and women who step up to serve our country and a pleasure to work with the students and staff at Pecatonica Middle School.
The veterans care package program at Pecatonica Middle School began when library aide Micki Hutton’s son was deployed overseas with the Marine Corps. She rallied the students to assemble care packages for her son and his fellow Marines.
The effort was a huge success, and she has kept the program growing every year since.
This year, Kati and fellow Fire Dept. Coffee team member Randy James were honored to get involved. Randy is a full-time firefighter who works with us when he’s not on shift. His father served in the Army and his grandfather in the Marines, so he has a special appreciation for military service.
Kati and Randy brought the coffee and stickers to Pecatonica Middle School and worked with the students to prepare the boxes to be shipped around the world. The school maintains a list of local men and women serving in the armed forces, so they can treat them to a special gift from home each year.
The school also hosts an annual Veterans Day celebration. Students from the nearby elementary school join in to sing a few songs to honor the veterans, who get to enjoy refreshments and gifts from local businesses. This year, those US Vets will take home Fire Dept. Coffee.
Our contribution included 100 bags of our Original Medium Roast, as well as 50 bags each of Backdraft Espresso and Skull-Crushing Espresso, to go with the 200 military-themed stickers that we hope the veterans will love.
Kati Nolan grew up in California, spending most of her childhood in and out of the foster care system. At 17, she volunteered to join the Army.
She served six years on active duty as a combat medic, spending time at Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Polk, Louisiana, before earning an honorable discharge with the rank of sergeant. While on active duty, she deployed once to Afghanistan and then later went back again as a civilian contractor.
“I joined the Army at 17 years old, and it was the best decision I could have made as a teenager, she said. “I had my son when I turned 19 and was a single mom for almost 2 years on active duty. It was hard, but it was an amazing experience as my whole unit gave me courage and support to raise my son and keep my career going. The Army really helped give me the tools to be successful and be who I am today.”
Kati now lives with her family in Winnebago, Illinois, which is in the Pecatonica school district. Her husband, Craig, is an active-duty soldier and commutes to his current duty station in Madison, Wisconsin. Craig is a sergeant first-class who has spent 17 years in the Army.
He is a decorated veteran, having served two downrange deployments and earned a Purple Heart, an honor bestowed upon service members who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action.
Craig is originally from Rockford, and the family plans to stay in the area after his retirement from the service. We are thrilled that this move brought them home and gave us the opportunity to work with Kati, who has become a vital part of the Fire Dept. Coffee team.
We’re very proud of Kati’s and Randy’s efforts to honor our veterans.
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