Dan McLaughlin, the program coordinator of the Lehigh Valley Chapter 190 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart was beaming. The Chapter just completed its program of visiting veterans in government run residential and nursing facilities. “We were able to touch the lives of about 640 veterans in seven different homes. Of those, we were able to visit with around 320. Fifteen of our Chapter members participated, with some attending every visit.”
The Chapter traditionally visits the Commonwealth’s Southeast Veterans’ Center; Lehigh’s Cedarbrook Nursing Homes in Allentown and Fountain Hill; Northampton’s Gracedale Home; Carbon’s Weatherwood Home; and the DVA’s Wilkes-Barre Nursing Home. According to Chuck Jackson, the Chapter’s commander, this year was special because they were able to add the Berks County home, BerksHeim, to the program. We were very fortunate that we obtained grant funding from Wal«Mart Stores, Inc.” Jackson said, “We deposit funds in the veterans’ house accounts, and that is an expensive undertaking. Veterans in these facilities forfeit virtually all their income, and receiving a $5 gift to use for personal items is very important to them.” This year the Chapter spent in excess of $3,200 on the program.
Elmer Clark, Manager of the Wal*Mart Supercenter in Temple, PA,
gives Chuck Jackson a grant while Mike Mescavage looks on.
Frank Sadrovitz, said that the purpose of the program was primarily to celebrate Veterans Day, but the visits in December were more of a “holiday” nature. “The greatest part of each of the visits,” said McLaughlin, “was being able to thank each veteran for his or her service to our country and see their appreciation that someone cares for them.”
The visit to the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center’s nursing home involves visits to the veterans in their rooms, with Mike Skweir (USFA, Retired) leading the way playing Christmas carols with his accordion, and the Chapter members singing along.
At the Southeastern Veterans Center and BerksHeim, the visits involved lively bingo sessions, with “cash” prizes for the canteen. The visits to the other locations featured sing-alongs provided by Skweir, with competition to see who could name the tunes played or recall trivia concerning them. Chapter member Joe Motil said: "We gave each veteran a personalized thank you note thanking them for their service, and they really appreciated that. We also served everyone pastries, and that definitely was a highlight of the visit for
Don Johnson and Frank Sadrovitz serve pastries at Weatherwood.
them. I’ve never seen a GI who would pass up a donut!” Actually, about 30 dozen donuts were served over the course of all the visits.