Sunday, November 3, 2013

Community Services Committee Makes A Difference In Lives Of Veterans

By Lisa A. Esposito 

Make a Difference Day - Adopt a Veteran was a huge success, thanks to you!  The Community Services Committee (CSC) did it.  We adopted every veteran on the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital’s hardship list, but we couldn’t have done it without the generosity and commitment of you, our members, and your friends, family, and co-workers.     

On October 26, 2013, CSC members visited with our nation’s most revered treasure, our aging veterans in need, to thank them for their service and deliver gifts of gratitude.  If you donated, thank you.  If you helped deliver or spread the word, again, thank you!  The hours we spent meeting these soldiers surely left its mark on us.  

In fact, I would like to share one of my experiences meeting an extraordinary veteran whom I will call Bob.  Bob is 96, still feisty, and quick with a laugh.  He spoke of his time in the Navy during World War II. He smiled when he talked about being a butcher, a baker, and a traveling salesman.  No, he wasn’t a candlestick maker, but he did try lots of professions in his lifetime.  He told me about making doughnuts while a baker, doughnuts better than Dunkin’ Donuts, according to Bob, and in talking with him I would have expected no less.  

Although Bob outlived his family, he still tries to find things to make him laugh every day.  This day, it was the colorful shirt he received from a member.  Bob laughed, saying he would smile when he wore the shirt as the colors reminded him of his youth!  Wow, powerful stuff!  Talking with this extraordinary man made me appreciate my life, my freedom that he helped secure, and my family.  Thanks, Bob.     

My story is just one of many that occurred throughout Hillsborough County on Make a Difference Day.  I hope that all who came out will share stories with your neighbors and family.  The soldiers we visited that day delighted in having someone with whom to reminisce about their lives, and we got to learn about their memorable experiences. We thought we were giving to them, but we walked away realizing we had received so much more.      

If you couldn’t participate in Adopt A Veteran, no worries.  In December, CSC will work with another nonprofit group, Aging Solutions, participating in Elves for the Elderly Holiday Gift Drive.  Our members will become Santa’s elves, adopting needy elderly state wards who can no longer take care of themselves and have no family support.  They need our help with basic necessities such as shoes, socks, maybe a stuffed animal to hug when times get tough!  Help us put some presents under their trees/menorahs.  Without elves like us, they would have no gifts this season!  Interested in adopting an elder or donning some antlers and visiting some special people this season?  For more information, contact Lisa Esposito ( or Lara LaVoie (