Summer 2007 Edition NJDMAVA Veterans

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The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to the editor at:

Trenton, NJ 08625-0340

Volunteers donate $1.3 million to Memorial Homes

Ocean County Donation

Back in action again. Gerry Griggs practices his form on the newly renovated Vineland Veterans Memorial Home bowling alley while (l-r) Herman Berry, Robert Szwak, Rusty Coulbourn, Nancy Dilks and Senior Therapy Assistant Chris McCracken watch. The repair of the bowling alley earned the project of the year for 2006 with Steve Kearns spending more than a year working with many different organizations and individuals, who donated money and repair time to get the lanes repaired for the residents.

The numbers are impressive with more than 73,000 hours donated by volunteers to the trio of Veterans Memorial Homes (VMH) from March 2006 to March 2007.

What is more impressive is the effects those volunteers have on the quality of life for the residents of the homes.

“They provide our residents with all these things of value, but more so, they supply them with the things that money can’t buy,” said Sue Pettigrano, Paramus VMH Director of Volunteer Services when she spoke at the Paramus volunteer luncheon.

“They show up every day loaded with compassion, empathy and giving hearts. These are the folks who take the loneliness out of being alone; they are faithful in an unfaithful world,” added Pettigrano.

When the hours donated is multiplied by $18.04 per hour as an estimated value for the time, it tallies to $1,322,205 provided by veterans’ organizations, businesses, clergy, ommunity groups and individuals in 12 months.

Volunteers range in age from Boy and Girl Scouts to the eldest members of veteran service organizations and church groups. Their support could have started just last year or een 30 years in the making, like the service that Dottie Cullen nd Friends have provided to the Vineland home.

“They sponsor many special events during the year, like Christmas parties and Valentine parties, a party for each month,” said Lois Ballurio, Vineland VMH Director of Volunteer
Services. “Our residents enjoy her parties and the special volunteers that help her.”

In Menlo Park the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapters have taken on the daunting and time onsuming task of keeping the residents looking sharp.

“They run our clothing room and sort through an enormous amount of clothing donations every week,” said Ed Wiserhorn, Menlo Park VMH Director of Volunteer Services. “It is a huge job.”

A team volunteers comes in every Thursday and sorts through the clothes by size and condition. “The mission here is that no one should look ragged,” said Karen Stroever, ersey Blue Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

“When you consider these are people who have very little control over their daily lives to come down and say no I don’t want a plaid shirt, I want a striped shirt, it makes a big difference in the their quality of life,” added Stroever.

Besides their work in clothing the Menlo Park residents,
the DAR has held a monthly golf tournament for last nine
years at two hand-made golf putting greens placed in the
town square of the home.

Each month about 50 residents play, a total of 135 articipated last year and they range from fully ambulatory to some that are blind, to those who cannot speak and even those in wheelchairs where DAR volunteers help residents play. Three chapters sponsor the golf with $100 to $150 in cash awards monthly along with other prizes that included 200 New York Yankees baseball caps donated by the ball club last year.

“We consider it patriotic work and we take it very, very seriously,” noted Stroever.

Not all volunteers provide time; some bring large amounts of goods and cash to support the residents. The Paramus home has benefited from the generosity of American Legion Post 170, whose members donated $75,000 for the ultipurpose room, $20,000 for Carando tubs and sponsors the cost of the monthly service for the residents’ computer lab. Then there are the numerous parties and events that esidents are invited to in the community that are not even part of the hours counted.

The theme at the Paramus volunteer luncheon summed it up best when the Department of Military and Veterans ffairs staff said “Hats off to You to our dedicated volunteers."