The Auxiliary's View... 

by Joyce Thornton

I hope that everyone is healthy, busy, and productive as 2009 begins, especially in volunteer efforts that improve the quality of life of our heroic veterans.

Newly inaugurated President Obama urged Americans to get out and try to give 140 hours of volunteer time to a needy individual or organization this year. If counted in terms of average working days consisting of eight hours, this amount comes out to three and a half weeks per year. If we can spread this effort out over the course of 365 days, the working hours are certainly doable and, at the same time, they add up without us really noticing.

Considerable meaningful work can certainly be done during the long span of 140 hours. I know I am preaching to the choir. Numerous BVA volunteers and Auxiliary members already give far more than 140 hours in a year’s time.

In our neck of the woods, a 14-year-old girl with whom I am acquainted has pledged 140 hours to the county volunteer organization. On top of her generosity is an attitude of service reflected in her request that the organization send her anywhere she is most needed and useful.

Please conduct your own research as to how many veterans live in local nursing and retirement homes. For privacy reasons, such information cannot always be provided to us if we are total strangers, but we sometimes personally know residents who can introduce us to the veterans. I am convinced that some of the loneliest people in the world are in these facilities. Their day would be so greatly brightened by a visit or even a phone call.

As a VIST Coordinator in Fort Myers, I am lucky enough to associate with volunteers who graciously help me manage my work and who interact directly with our blinded veterans. One such volunteer spends most of each Monday morning making calls to many lonely and relatively isolated veterans in southwest Florida. He humbly asserts that he receives more cheer from making these calls than he can actually give to the person called, a commonly echoed sentiment from anyone who serves others freely.

We all look forward to another year of supporting BVA in this the 32nd year since the Auxiliary’s inception. By the time this issue of the Bulletin is received, BVA itself will be closely approaching its 64th birthday on March 28. We hope it is a prosperous and happy year for both organizations and all of its wonderful members.