COLORADO SPRINGS — You can join the fun online and help veterans just like Sam at the "Hoedown for Heroes." We will be livestreaming the full event here. It gets underway at 7 p.m.
One month ago mom of five Sam Aitken had less than $1 in her bank account.
"I started with twenty-four cents in my bank account," said Aitken. "I borrowed fifty cents to get my LLC (for my painting business) and I booked my first job from Facebook. I used the deposit money to pay for my insurance so by the time I started the job I was legal."
Now Aitken and her team at Partisan Painting have 21 painting jobs under their belt, in only one month.
But this former Army mechanic's path to success wasn't easy. She struggled as she transitioned to the civilian world. Then, this past summer she decided to leave an abusive relationship. She turned to a place she heard helped veterans and their families: Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center.
"They made me feel like it wasn't the end of the world," she said. "It was 'What is your problem, what is the most important problem that we can tackle first, and then we can go down the line'."
They counseled her, kept her from being evicted from her home, and helped her jump start her career.
"I went through their unemployment and transition program and they put me in real estate school," she said.
Since then Mt. Carmel has also connected her with realtors who are helping her get her license and other teams helping her to manage her painting business.
"You don't know what you don't know and apparently there's alot to know," she said.
She's learning as she goes and finding ways to honor what she and her team of seven employees have achieved.
"We just celebrated our first month and we went to top golf for a mandatory fun day and we did a team building exercise and it was really cool," she said.
Now that's she's found her purpose with the help of Mt. Carmel, she wants to pay it forward by making sure other veterans can, too.
"It's hard to find your place," she said. "It's really hard to find where you belong."