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

Volunteers find joy in helping Menlo residents
Photos and story by Kryn P. Westhoven, NJDMAVA/PA

Ask any person why they volunteer at the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home (VMH) and the word joy comes up in the conversation. The feeling of joy filled the Victorian Manor in Woodbridge on April 30 as many of the nearly 300 volunteers who serve the residents of the home were honored with a luncheon.

“I love it and I enjoy it to see these guys smile when we come in there,” said Joe Wojcik, a member of the Polish Legion of American Veterans post in Linden.

The first Friday of the month you will find two dozen Polish Legion of American Veterans post members and ladies auxiliary volunteers hosting bingo. They bring refreshments and food with them, including White Castle hamburgers, which are a favorite with the residents, as upwards of 100 residents come down for bingo.

“My father had Alzheimer’s that is why I like to go to that section of the home,” said Melvyn Meszaros of South Amboy, who volunteers with the Marine Corps League Detachment that conducts a monthly sing-a-long for an hour.

Volunteers helping Menlo residents
Ervin Perry, Senior Therapy Program Assistant at Menlo Park VMH encourages a resident to bowl with one of three Wii video games system purchased for the home by the American Legion.

Woodbridge High School art students painted murals on several doors of the special needs secured units at Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home.

The past year approximately 150 individual volunteers donated about 3,600 hours and veteran service organization and community groups provided more than 500 volunteers and nearly 7,000 hours of service to the Menlo residents.

“We need to inspire volunteers to mentor new volunteers to keep the torch going,” said Christine A. McNulty, CTRS, Supervisor of Recreation, Menlo Park VMH who understands and appreciates the time given to the residents.

Several special projects performed by volunteers during the year created improved recreational opportunities at the home to include the Central District Elks spending $7,000 for a new bingo machine system, the American Legion sponsored the purchase of three Nintendo Wii systems at a cost of $7,000; and the Elks and Bowlers to Veterans Link sponsored the Re-Creation show.

Other volunteer projects saw an Eagle Scout build faux brick rolling half walls for chapel services that spill out into town square and Woodbridge High School Art Students painted door murals on special needs secured units during the year.