Editor’s note: This is a weekly series of Department Spotlight stories featuring unique programs and initiatives of departments throughout The American Legion. Department adjutants are invited to recommend subjects for their departments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
An outpouring of support from The American Legion family has helped expand a project Department of Vermont Commander John Heald set out to complete during his term.
Heald’s project was to renovate one of the overnight guest rooms at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington. The room is used by the families of residents of the home who need to stay overnight for any reason. Available at no charge for visiting family members, the room can accommodate two people on a first-come, first-served basis.
The estimate to renovate the room was $14,000. During the Mid-Winter Conference held in Bennington, Legionnaires came together to assist the Commander with his project. When Heald called for all donations, nine posts donated a total of $14,750, bringing the total donations for the year to $18,592.
The additional donations will be used to help create a second guest room. In the department’s February bulletin, Heald called the response “overwhelming.”
“I must say that I am astounded by the generosity of The American Legion Family and others. … I can’t thank you enough.”
Department Chaplain Kenneth Coonradt added, “This is a commendable project because many families who come long distances to visit their loved one can't afford a motel.”
Established in 1884 as the Soldiers’ Home of Vermont, the Vermont Veterans Home has grown to over 100,000 square feet of living space, giving residents room to move around and enjoy activities all day. The property also includes a deer park, a trout pond that is used for fishing derbys every year, many walkways and a gazebo. The Vermont Veterans' Home provides best of class health-care services to veterans, their spouses and Gold Star parents, while honoring their choices and respecting their rights of self-determination.