In Lieu of Flowers: A Legacy of Love



February is a month dedicated to love. The action of love can vary in the way that it is displayed, from gifts and flowers to loving words or acts of kindness. Love can also be bittersweet.

I first learned of Steven Chobaks’ death in early October of 2021. Our organization started receiving donations in lieu of flowers by Steven’s family and friends. I could tell that he was well loved by the numerous memorial cards requested to be sent to the family through these donations. A few came without addresses, and I wanted to ensure that Steven’s family received these words of sympathy, so I reached out directly to them.

Maureen, his mother, shared with me that Steven had joined the US Navy after high school where he was first sent to Pensacola, Florida and then ended up in Lemoore, California, until his separation. Steven was with VFA-192, had been deployed and was on the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier prepping the jets for takeoff.  

She also shared that Steven loved dogs. Lizzie was his love (see photo below). Maureen wrote, “probably not the best choice for a young, single man in the service but Steven got Lizzie anyway. She was his lifesaver. She really helped him through so much.”

Steven was the youngest of three, just 22 years old at the time of his passing. His family was looking for a way to honor him by incorporati

ng both his service and his love of dogs, leading to Paws and Stripes.

I am in awe of the Chobak family, and so many like them, who in a time of utter grief and heartbreak, choose to turn the worst time for themselves, into an act of kindness for others. This support extends beyond a monetary donation. It really shows that unconditional love and support transcends beyond our lives.

With the support of the Chobak family and supporters like you, our veterans and their service dogs are able to receive this continued support to live their lives beyond isolation.

On behalf of Paws and Stripes and those we serve, we are honored to be chosen to celebrate the lives of your loved ones through planned giving gifts, memorial tributes, and naming opportunities. Thank you for continuing to make our mission that much more meaningful!

Sincerely,

Iris Nolasco, Director of Development

iris@pawsandstripes.org