Joan Bittner Fry

Recently, I was invited to a place less than five miles from my home in Sabillasville that I didn’t know existed. I found one of the most uplifting surprises. There, in plain view, was a sign that said Heroes Ridge at Raven Rock.

In the past, you may have known it as Raven Rock Lutheran Camp.  Heroes Ridge now provides a retreat for wounded, injured, and ill-combat Veterans, first responders, and their families. 

The reason for my visit was to take a picture of a few of the fellows from the Sons of American Legion of Post 239 in Cascade, who were presenting a check to Operation Second Chance’s Heroes Ridge. We were met by Cindy McGrew, CEO and Founder of Operation Second Chance (OSC), which began in 2004.

Cindy’s interest in Veterans began early in her life, but was fully realized as she supported seven injured soldiers and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. As OSC helps heroes move on, Heroes Ridge provides rest, recreation, and tranquility for Veterans, first responders, and their families. Since May, 268 persons, including 6 firefighters from Sarasota, Florida, have stayed at the camp, as well as Veterans, families, and Gold Star Mothers (women entitled to display a gold star on a service flag as the mother, stepmother, adoptive mother, or foster mother of a United States Armed Forces member who died while engaged in action against an enemy recognized by the Secretary of Defense).

Heroes Ridge came to be through the generosity of Mrs. Nahrgang, widow of a Marine, who made the purchase of Heroes Ridge a reality in 2019. The family lived in Columbia, Maryland, with their only child, who passed away in a car accident before his 19th birthday. When Mrs. Nahrgang passed away in her nineties, she graciously left her estate to OSC. This was the foundation for building the Veteran retreat, a property that was originally a church camp and privately owned since 2007.

Mrs. Nahrgang felt a connection to Cindy McGrew after receiving a warm letter of thanks and a token of appreciation after the donation of some simple furniture. The power of kindness, appreciation, and support for our Veterans is how Heroes Ridge was created.

There are many ways for you to get involved: providing professional assistance, volunteering for an Eagle Scout project, mailing a check, joining the OSC mentoring leadership program, volunteering, or providing Immediate or Phase 2 needs. Contact for further information.

Needless to say, the gift from Sons of American Legion to Heroes Ridge was graciously accepted and those who visited that day know it will be put to good use. 

Pictured are Cindy McGrew, founder and CEO of Heroes Ridge at Raven Rock, and members of Post 239 Cascade American Legion, Jim Bittner, Larry Sanders, and Butch Wilhide.

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