ANNVILLE, Pa., April 6, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs' six state veterans homes this month are recognizing and thanking their 2,491 outstanding volunteers for contributing more than 94,000 hours of service to residents in 2016.
"Volunteers are an intimate part of the care provided to the residents in the state veterans' homes, and I salute them all for their selfless commitment," said Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general. "The residents in our homes proudly served and protected this nation, and it is wonderful to see how eagerly our volunteers serve these veterans. Everyone – residents and staff alike – look forward to the joy that the volunteers bring every day when they walk through the doors."
In 1974, President Richard Nixon, through executive order, established the National Volunteer Week to celebrate and recognize the efforts of all individuals who volunteer. Since then, every year, each president has issued a proclamation for National Volunteer Week. This year it is the week of April 23-29. Thankfully, the number of individuals who volunteer throughout the United States has increased in recent years. National Volunteer Week has expanded into an entire month. Each of the six state veteran's homes will hold events and activities for their volunteers in and around April to thank their volunteers. This year's events include:
- The Gino J. Merli Veterans' Center (GMVC) located in Scranton will be the first to honor its volunteers, holding a special brunch on Tuesday, April 11. Throughout 2016, 163 people volunteered more than 17,000 hours. Cathleen Goff will be recognized for providing more than 20,000 volunteer hours over 12 years at GMVC, and Joanie Millan will also be recognized for reaching over 16,000 hours of volunteer service to GMVC.
The GMVC would also like to thank anyone who made a donation to the center by inviting them to a special Donor Appreciation Reception at the center at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12.
- The Hollidaysburg Veterans' Home (HVH) in Hollidaysburg will honor its volunteers at a luncheon on Tuesday, April 18. Hollidaysburg had the largest number of volunteers in 2016 with 690 people putting in at least one hour of service to the home for a total of 11,014 hours.
- One of the volunteers at the Southwestern Veterans' Center (SWVC) in Pittsburgh who will be recognized during National Volunteer Month is Wanda Spring, better known as the "Ice Cream Lady." Wanda has come to SWVC every Thursday for the past 16 years to scoop ice cream and then deliver it to residents. She has volunteered for a total of 22 years starting at the Federal VA and then transferring her service to SWVC when her late husband became a resident there in 2001. She will be stepping down this year as she turns 98 this month, thus ending her weekly 50-mile round-trip trek to the home. DMVA thanks her for her years of service and will miss seeing her every Thursday. SWVC will hold a Volunteer Dinner on Thursday, April 27 honoring Wanda along with the other 600 volunteers who provided nearly 20,000 volunteer service hours to the center in 2016.
- The Pennsylvania Soldiers' and Sailors' Home (PSSH) in Erie will host a volunteer recognition luncheon on Saturday, April 29, to honor the home's 325 people who volunteered more than 10,000 collective hours. Many local veteran organizations that support the home through their various community outreach programs will be in attendance.
- The Delaware Valley Veterans' Home (DVVH) in Philadelphia will hold its volunteer recognition event at a formal dinner on Wednesday, May 3. Andrew Ruscavage, DMVA's director of state veterans' homes, will be the keynote speaker.
The DVVH will honor their volunteers this year with a special award -- the President's Volunteer Service Award Medal. This honor is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service and is administered by Points of Light, the largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, and was very influential in establishing April as volunteer month. These medals recognize citizens who achieve a number of volunteer hours during a 12-month period or over a lifetime. The DVVH will be awarding 56 volunteers with this medal. Three people will receive the Gold Medal for volunteering more than 500 hours this past year, 15 will receive the Silver Medal for volunteering between 250-499 hours, and 37 will receive the Bronze Medal for volunteering between 100 and 249 hours to the home in 2016. In addition, volunteer Jack O'Donnell will receive the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Medal for volunteering more than 10,000 hours to the DVVH. The DVVH recorded the most volunteer hours of the six homes at 19,937 hours thanks to 284 volunteers in 2016.
- The Southeastern Veterans' Center (SEVC) in Spring City will hold a picnic for its volunteers this summer. The center had 428 registered volunteers recording a total of 15,899 hours in 2016.
"We are very thankful for the individuals, schools, companies, and everyone that volunteers at Pennsylvania's veterans' homes. The compassion and care that they bring make a huge difference in the lives of the residents," said Ruscavage. "Whether it's assisting with activities, helping with field trips, pushing wheelchairs, aiding residents at mealtime, or just sitting and talking, our volunteers provide an enormous amount of help. I can't thank them enough for their time and dedication to serving Pennsylvania's veterans."
For more information about the state veterans' homes and volunteer opportunities visit www.paveterans.pa.gov or follow DMVA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/padmva or Twitter at www.twitter.com/padmva.
Media contact: Joan Nissley – 717.861.8720
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs