The celebration of volunteer accomplishments for the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home (VMH) held at the Holiday Inn in Hasbrouck Heights on April 22 had a unique theme of bingo.
The nearly 200 volunteers eagerly placed candy hearts on their bingo cards as they looked to spell out the word ‘heart’ on the modified game of chance. This group activity highlighted the fact that 252 Bingo games run by volunteers paid out nearly $63,000 in cash as prizes to the veterans in the Paramus facility.
Renaming the game ‘heart’ instead of bingo focused on the dedicated spirit that volunteers bring to the home every day according to Sue Pettigrano, Paramus VMH Activities Director.
“They supply them with the things that money can’t buy. They show up every day loaded with compassion, empathy, and giving hearts. They are an essential piece in our accomplishments and the main ingredient in our recipe for success.”
The giving goes both ways as the volunteers expressed feelings of satisfaction for the services they donate.
“It is great feeling when you walk away from there,” said Irwin Burkett, a 75-year-old Korean War veteran, from Saddlebrook who helps escort on outside trips.
Sitting at the same table with Burkett are two members of a local Jewish War Veterans post, Marty Rushfield and Jack Wall, both have been volunteering at the home for five years and enjoy their time spent with their fellow veterans. “I get satisfaction that you are giving something back,” said Wall as he spoke about a recent Passover Seder held at the home. “You get tears in your eyes,” added Rushfield, who realizes that in future he might be in a position where he would like others to support him.
For more than 22 years Anne Ciarletta, an 83-year-old Cliffside Park resident has been providing that kind of support as a Paramus volunteer. “I can’t begin to tell you. I get a lot of joy to be there for our veterans,” said Ciarletta, who started volunteering four weeks after the home opened in September 1986.
Working now as a receptionist, she handles the visitors log, gives directions, take messages and makes copies. “Whatever job has to be done, I do it,” noted Ciarletta as she spends five days a week at the home volunteering.