Giving Back to our American Heroes

By: Kaitlyn Schmitt, UWO Red Cross Club, Service to Armed Forces Chair

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The UW Oshkosh American Red Cross Club joined Americorps Vet Corps and Adrianne Benson, Americorps Vet Corps member and Red Cross volunteer, to return to volunteer at King Veteran’s Home on March 16th. This time, we provided help with multiple activities. Half of the volunteers helped with a game of bingo and the other half went downstairs to the bowling alley for some rounds of bowling and snacks.

I volunteered with Bingo and I passed out prize quarters and collected bingo cards. We even had coffee and cookies for the Veterans. The Veterans got so excited when they won, and I heard a lot of them calling out their own numbers they needed to win. Bingo was very competitive. There was lots of great socialization and laughter heard in the room. I had several Veterans come up to me afterwards and thank me for being there. Then I thought, “Wow, we should be the ones thanking them for their service!” It was another incredible opportunity to give back to those who selflessly served us. UWO Red Cross member, Samantha Johnson, stated: “It’s a great feeling being able to give back to the veterans who risked their lives for our country.”

The bowling alley was full of excitement as well. The veterans definitely taught us younger volunteers how to bowl! It was exciting to see their faces as they knocked all the pins down.

UWO Red Cross President, Angie Dusenberry, exclaimed: “Bowling with the Veterans from King could not have been a more rewarding experience. It was heart-warming to be able to share the laughs and great experiences with the individuals who gave me my freedom – even if they did kick my butt in bowling!”

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members  Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members
Brenna Schobert , Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

The Veterans had a blast bowling and still have the skill. UWO Red Cross member, Brenna Schobert, expressed: “It was amazing to spend just a few hours giving back to those who gave up so much for our country. They are incredible people and I feel truly blessed to have helped to put a smile on their faces.”

Several of the veterans thanked us and said that they hope we return to volunteer again. We will definitely be returning for more fun-filled days with the veterans. Not only do we brighten their day, I know they brighten mine.

We enjoyed the stories, excitement, and camaraderie. We all walked away with smiles on our faces. This is the greatest generation and volunteering at the Veteran’s home is truly a blessing. I know I definitely leave King Veteran’s Home feeling inspired and happy. There is nothing greater than volunteering during American Red Cross month and “being a hero” to the true heroes in America’s hearts – the Veterans.

Serving Those Who Have Selflessly Served Us

By Kaitlyn Schmitt, UWO Red Cross Club Member

vet1Adrianne Benson, Americorps Vet Corps member and Red Cross volunteer, and members from the UWO Red Cross Club spent the afternoon on November 23, 2013 volunteering at the beautiful Veteran’s Home in King, WI.

The Veterans were very excited to see the ladies from the Red Cross Club. We provided each Veteran with a Holiday Mail card which was made by the club and local elementary school students. The Veterans were filled with excitement and gratitude when they received the cards.

The Red Cross Club helped with some “intense” games of Bingo with the Veterans. There were definitely a lot of big winners that day! After bingo, we socialized with some of the Veterans and then we were given a tour of the incredible facility. We were amazed by all of the facility’s amenities including a bowling alley, movie theatre and a tunnel transport system. To top it off, the lakeside view was breathtaking!

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Here I am helping pass out cards for the “intense” games of Bingo!

We had a great time serving those who have selflessly served us. We enjoyed getting to know the Veterans and we were all touched by this incredible experience.

Thank you to the  King Veterans Home staff for allowing us to join you. Thanks to the Red Cross for this incredible opportunity. Thanks Red Cross Club Members for the participation and enthusiasm on this wonderful experience!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kaitlyn

Local Cub Scout Troop Donates To Veteran’s Home

Cub Scout Pack 3763 worked with the American Red Cross to donate items for the Veterans Home in King, WI.

Pictured with a small sample of items they collected, from left to right is Jordan Friend, Cub Master, Tammy Biever, Shawn McCrary and Sam McCrary.

This was a special service project done by the Webelos from Rosenow Elementary. Also donating items to their cause were a number of Menards employees and Facebook friends. These items will be greatly appreciated by the veterans.

Wisconsin’s East Central Chapter Lends Hand to Veterans Assistance Program

Before

After

The Red Cross was founded on principles of supporting the military and their families, including veterans. Whether it be communications or emergency services, the military has found it can count on the Red Cross.There are many times when the Red Cross can say it has assisted the military or service men and women but rarely do we get to see the before and after of the efforts so clearly as we do with this latest effort to help veterans as with these pictures. When we here at the Lakeland Chapter saw what Wisconsin’s East Central Chapter had done for the Veteran’s Assistance Program in King, WI, we had to stop and say nicely done.

The room pictured is at the Veteran’s Assistance Center located at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home in King, WI. Because of the good relationship the Red Cross Waupaca office has with the facility, they were able to brainstorm with the facility’s staff to find a meaningful way to help. They took the dire room you see in the first picture and made it the comfortable, hopeful place you see in the second. It all started with an application for a grant and collaboration with the staff at the facility to see what the needs were.

The Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs established the Veterans Assistance Program (VAP) in 1994. It helps homeless veterans and those at-risk of becoming homeless receive the job training, education, counseling and rehabilitative services (such as alcohol and drug abuse treatment) they need to obtain steady employment, affordable housing and the skills to sustain a productive lifestyle.

“I was shocked when I went in there the first time,” says Paul Fruit, an Americorps member with the Red Cross . The room and donated furnishings were in a dilapidated state. “And it wasn’t going to change based on the funding they had.”

The average stay for veterans assisted by the program is 2 years so they think of it as their home. “They have given their time of service and they come back to something like that. Its nice to spruce it up a bit,” says Paul.

In October 2009 the local chapter received word from the National Red Cross that they received the grant and then work began.  The pictures say a lot but amazingly don’t tell the full story of transformation. Volunteers removed the old furniture and painted. The room also got new air conditioners and lighting plus a new laptop for the residents to use.  Final touches were made and pictures were hung for the project to be complete in March, 2010.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Veteran’s Affairs website the philosophy of the Veteran’s Assistance program is simple, “vets helping vets; a one-stop shop to access needed services; a structured environment with long days and hard work to rekindle the pride and confidence these men and women once used to defend our nation.”

This room is a more comfortable place to stop after a hard day’s work of rekindling pride and confidence all because of some hardworking people who saw a need and filled it.

Paul says no one who worked on the project saw it as a struggle or chore but as something that should be done. “I don’t think it was going to change and we had the opportunity to change it.”