Jacobetti Home benefits from 10,973 hours of volunteer service in 2015Contact: Lauren DeVol, MVAA, 517-284-5236Agency: Military and Veterans Affairs
MARQUETTE, Mich. - Wanda Westman has been a volunteer at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans for more than 20 years. The Ishpeming native has spent more than 9,700 hours at the Marquette home, calling Bingo games every Monday; collecting, distributing and wrapping gifts for the American Legion Auxiliary’s Christmas gift shop; serving as the organization’s hospital representative; and planting flowers at the home each spring – to name just a few of her many duties.
In 2015 alone, Westman donated 419 hours of her time to the Jacobetti Home. Westman – whose brother served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War – first started volunteering at the home after her own health issues inspired her to give back.
“I’m a 22-year cervical cancer survivor, and that experience changed my life,” she said. “It made it better, because now I’m making a difference in the lives of our veterans. I go home feeling good and knowing I made a difference in someone’s life. That’s what we all do as volunteers; we give back to our heroes. It’s a debt we can never repay.”
Westman is one of 250 volunteers who were celebrated at the DJJHV’s 34th Annual Volunteer Service Awards and Banquet, held today at Northern Michigan University. The event honored the home’s volunteers for their combined 10,973 hours of service in 2015 and recognized seven outstanding volunteers for reaching lifetime service milestones.
Rod Aho (8,000 hours), Jim Feliciano (8,000), Grace LaValley (3,000), Lois Juchemich (2,000), Marilyn Syria (2,000), Terri Parolini (1,500) and Richard Boyle (1,000) each received milestone pins for their dedicated service to Jacobetti veterans.
“I am always inspired by the spirit of generosity and support provided to our veterans by our volunteers and the community,” Jacobetti Home COO Brad Slagle said. “This is our opportunity to thank our volunteers for caring for America’s heroes.”
April is National Volunteer Month and is dedicated to honoring volunteers in Michigan communities and encouraging volunteerism. At the two state veterans homes – DJJHV and the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans – volunteers are an important part of residents’ day-to-day enjoyment. From the woodshop and the book library to euchre tournaments and guitar classes, volunteers provide a number of services and activities that wouldn’t be available otherwise.
“Each and every volunteer who spends time at our veterans homes has made a profound difference in the lives of the men and women who reside there,” Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Interim Director James Robert Redford said. “Service to country and service to others is part of the fabric of our nation, and we appreciate their contributions. Today’s awards ceremony is just one small way we can say thank you for their donations of time and talent.”
Last year, 1,150 volunteers donated 63,874 hours of service at both veterans homes.