While the media’s interest in our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has waned, thousands upon thousands of Americans continue to be deployed to the Middle East (and other locations) to serve their country. A significant percentage of these service members are parents who are deployed (often repeatedly) spending months away from their young children. There’s no substitute for the presence of Mom or Dad in a young child’s life, but there are still things we can do to ease a young family’s separation.
In late 2009, my startup launched a service called A Story Before Bed. It lets a parent, grandparent, teacher (or even kid) record a video of themselves reading a children’s book. The recording can be done via webcam in a web browser or even on an iPad2. Kids can watch the stories over and over again in a web browser or in an iOS app. You can see an example of a finished recording here. When myself and my two co-founders Jenny and Walter decided to create A Story Before Bed, the first words out of Walter’s mouth were: “and we can give it away for free to parents in the military.”
Since early 2010 we have been giving free subscriptions to A Story Before Bed to deployed and deploying parents in the U.S. Armed Forces. To date we have given away over 200,000 free recordings to these brave parents, and would love to give away at least another 50,000 free recordings (or more). Seeing recordings like the one above where brave and tough looking young moms and dads, typically in fatigues and under fluorescent lights, are tenderly reading a bedtime story to their kids is positively heartwarming. We need your help creating more of these heartwarming moments.
Military parents facing deployment (or who are already deployed) can sign up for their completely free subscription at: http://www.astorybeforebed.com/military. We’re very grateful to Craig and the CraigConnects community for any help you can offer in getting the word out to help make these folks’ sacrifices just a little bit easier.
Hillel Cooperman is a co-founder of Jackson Fish Market, a Seattle-based software startup and user interface design consultancy. Prior to that Hillel spent almost ten years at Microsoft where he ran the Windows User Experience team.