Lewis and Joni Jordan created GratitudeAmerica in December 2011 as a grassroots organization to benefit veterans.
When the couple looked back on their lives, their gratitude for all the blessings and success they achieved overflowed to the
point that they decided to find a way to give back to others.
“After careful consideration, we concluded that there is no one more deserving than our veterans, their families and families of
the fallen,” said Jordan. “They go out and risk life and limb and family for us, so we feel very strongly about this.”
Their fathers served as part of “The Greatest Generation,” and the couple feels strongly that the men and women who
have worn our country’s military uniforms deserve an extra measure of care and support upon their return home.
“GratitudeAmerica will benefit our local veterans and their families by connecting them with individuals and organizations
who are eager and available to help,” said Jordan. “We are designed to be a one-stop connection center addressing a wide
range of needs including employment, family relationships, health and wellness.”
Jordan explained the way he plans to accomplish his goals is to have volunteers in the community who step up to identify
those who need help, connect through his organization with those who are willing to give help.
“We frankly have a wonderful group of folks in this community who do wonderful things for the veterans, but what we
hope to do is to connect them all together and allow people to reach out to one another to say if there’s something falling
through the cracks or if there’s an individual who needs something that we’re not taking care of, how can we together fill that
There’s a whole network of people who want to do something for veterans, said Jordan, and his organization hopes to provide
them with a way to do more.
“One of the things that people don’t understand is that there are 40,000 organizations in this country that say they do something
for veterans, and yet the families of veterans – the spouses, the children, the veterans themselves – say ‘I’m not getting
exactly what I need,’ so something can be done a little better and that’s where we come in.”
The combined communities of Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island and Nassau County serve as the national launch prototype
for the grassroots program Jordan plans to duplicate in communities throughout the country.
“Little by little, we believe that word of mouth among our veterans and their families tells them, if you really need some support
go to GratitudeAmerica. We don’t claim to do all things for all people, but we claim to be able to connect them with the people
who can. We intend to be a network. We’re not trying to outdo anybody or compete with anybody, we all want to be in this
together so that everybody whose heart is set on helping veterans and families can work together in any way that we can.”
The organization has the enthusiastic support of NBC’s TomBrokaw, war hero and retired U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and Col.
David Sutherland, U.S. Army (ret.), the hand-picked assistant to recently retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral
GratitudeAmerica is affiliated with Easter Seals, which has been helping veterans since 1945.
They receive no government funds, nor are they seeking them, notes Jordan. All funding received through donations
goes directly into the program.
“We do not take salaries and do not benefit financially from GratitudeAmerica,” said Jordan. “This is a labor of love and it is
our way to say thank you to those who have served and continue to serve our country.”
Jordan enjoyed a long and rewarding career as an airline executive, serving as president of three major airlines.
“I had the honor and privilege of serving alongside distinguished servicemen and women throughout my 49-year career
as well as serving on the Military Airlift Committee for the National Defense Transportation Association (which provided
civilian aircraft to the military for troop deployment) and on the board of directors for the Air Transport Association,” said
Wife Joni was at Baptist Medical Center Nassau for 16 years, and was director of Surgical Services.
She sees her role as one of support and organization. “She’s been my inspiration and my rock,” said Jordan. “We
talk a lot about what we can do together. We dream together, we
pray together and we try to do the best we can. I couldn’t have
done this without her, even though she underplays her role.”
Best friends since they were preschoolers and through high
school, they reconnected after 45 years apart and now share a
very happy island life that neither takes for granted.
Married in the chapel of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in
Houston, Texas, four years ago when Joni was undergoing treatment
for pancreatic cancer, the couple is keenly aware of the
fragility of life, having also weathered breast cancer with Joni.
“We believe that life is fragile and unpredictable. We never
know what tomorrow may bring, so we are grateful for every sunrise,”
“We are grateful for the enthusiastic support our community
has already shown. We invite all to give of their time and talents
and financial gifts to help these deserving men and women,
whose sacrifice we will never be able to fully repay.”
To learn more about GratitudeAmerica, call (904) 432-8990
or visit their website at www.gratitudeamerica.org or email