From the ALA Photo Archives
Mrs. Raymond Willington (left), ALA supervisor of poppymaking, and Mrs. Joseph Ray, ALA poppy chairman, assist patient J. Gonyaley at the Brooklyn VA hospital. American Legion Auxiliary members have been volunteering in veterans hospitals since the ALA’s founding nearly a century ago.
Guest Blog by Nicole Clapp, American Legion Auxiliary Member
When I first watched the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Decades of Making a Difference video for our upcoming centennial, I was struck by the segment showcasing Ohio member Edith Hobart, the ALA’s first national president. Madam President’s passion was to focus on our veterans’ health. She assisted with the establishment of a national hospital system for veterans.
As the American Legion Auxiliary approaches its milestone birthday in 2019, our purpose for the ALA Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Program remains steadfast to promote our mission to enhance the lives of veterans, military, and their families. Our collective work provides ALA members opportunities to serve as volunteers within our local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) and Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs).
I am sure many of us, as ALA members, have special memories of volunteering at our VA facilities. I know I have many, as my great-aunt and uncle lived at the Iowa Veterans Home when I was growing up. I recall, as a Junior Auxiliary member, decorating tray favors, reading to veterans, and helping make pottery gifts for the Christmas Canteen. But, I think we all know it isn’t just about the task of volunteering — it is the relationship fostered between you and the veteran. I can still remember being mesmerized for hours as my Uncle Duff made beautiful poppies by the thousands.
We impact each other’s lives in ways that words cannot properly express. Please contact your local American Legion Auxiliary to find out how you can volunteer and make a difference in the lives of veterans in your community.
Nicole Clapp is a 43-year continuous member of the American Legion Auxiliary. She belongs to Ehrig-McTurk Unit 127 in Gladbrook, Iowa.