Spring 2008 Edition NJDMAVA Veterans

About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to:

Veteran Journal Editor, NJDMAVA/PA, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340

Bingo: everyone wins at Paramus
Photos and story by Kryn P. Westhoven, NJDMAVA/PA

Bingo: everyone wins at Paramus
Jack Wall, (left) Fairlawn, Jewish War Veterans (JWV); Marty Rushfield, (center), JWV and Irwin Burkett, (right) Korean War Veterans, Saddlebook were among the volunteers honored at the luncheon.

The celebration of volunteer accomplishments for the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home (VMH) held at the Holiday Inn in Hasbrouck Heights on April 22 had a unique theme of bingo.

The nearly 200 volunteers eagerly placed candy hearts on their bingo cards as they looked to spell out the word ‘heart’ on the modified game of chance. This group activity highlighted the fact that 252 Bingo games run by volunteers paid out nearly $63,000 in cash as prizes to the veterans in the Paramus facility.

Renaming the game ‘heart’ instead of bingo focused on the dedicated spirit that volunteers bring to the home every day according to Sue Pettigrano, Paramus VMH Activities Director.

“They supply them with the things that money can’t buy. They show up every day loaded with compassion, empathy, and giving hearts. They are an essential piece in our accomplishments and the main ingredient in our recipe for success.”

The giving goes both ways as the volunteers expressed feelings of satisfaction for the services they donate.

“It is great feeling when you walk away from there,” said Irwin Burkett, a 75-year-old Korean War veteran, from Saddlebrook who helps escort on outside trips.

Sitting at the same table with Burkett are two members of a local Jewish War Veterans post, Marty Rushfield and Jack Wall, both have been volunteering at the home for five years and enjoy their time spent with their fellow veterans. “I get satisfaction that you are giving something back,” said Wall as he spoke about a recent Passover Seder held at the home. “You get tears in your eyes,” added Rushfield, who realizes that in future he might be in a position where he would like others to support him.

For more than 22 years Anne Ciarletta, an 83-year-old Cliffside Park resident has been providing that kind of support as a Paramus volunteer. “I can’t begin to tell you. I get a lot of joy to be there for our veterans,” said Ciarletta, who started volunteering four weeks after the home opened in September 1986.

Working now as a receptionist, she handles the visitors log, gives directions, take messages and makes copies. “Whatever job has to be done, I do it,” noted Ciarletta as she spends five days a week at the home volunteering.

Bingo: everyone wins at Paramus

“Knowing that I can bring some joy into their lives is the great reward for me.”

The Paramus Veterans Home has more than 150 active individual volunteers along with 90 clergy volunteers providing more than 31,000 hours of service. Members of all the Veterans Service Organizations and local community groups including The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Lions Clubs, Loyal Order of the Moose, Knights of Columbus, Masons, Rotary Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Women’s clubs, Garden Club, churches and schools amounts to the an economic value of $583,000 in time donated to the home in the past year.