Thursday, November 6, 2014

Community Services Committee: Recognizing Those Veterans Who Do Not Have Much, Yet Have Given So Much

By Lara M. LaVoie

Make a Difference Day, held the fourth Saturday in October, is a national day of giving back and helping others. For the second year in a row, I have had the privilege of co-chairing the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Community Services Committee (CSC) and participating in the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital’s Make a Difference Day, which has a theme of “Homeward Bound for Those Who Served.” There were 52 veterans who were in need of “adoption” this year, a number that had unfortunately increased from last year. As we were able to do last year, with the help of many generous volunteers, we succeeded again this year in getting all 52 veterans on the list adopted!

For those of you who are unaware of this amazing project, these veteran heroes sadly have no family and no living friends. They live in small group homes because they can no longer take care of themselves. These veterans have chosen to live in foster homes rather than nursing homes, but they have very limited funds after paying for their stay in the foster home. Event organizers collected a wish list for each of the veterans. With the help of generous volunteers sharing their time and resources, gifts were assembled for personal delivery to each of the foster home veterans. The items on their “wish lists” included things that we take for granted ― blankets, underwear, sweatshirts, shaving cream, CDs, hats, and flashlights ― even the comfort of a stuffed animal.

Participating in this event these past two years has been such a heartwarming and rewarding experience. Once again, those who volunteered this year had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the amazing stories of these wonderful men and women who selflessly served our country. The veterans were so very grateful for the chance to spend an hour or so talking about their past and their service. For all that they have done, the least we could do was spend several hours with them and show them gratitude to brighten their day. I think I can speak for all of the volunteers when I say that we all felt so humbled and touched deeply by the experience.

We have some other incredible events planned for this year where you can possibly touch someone’s life in a very meaningful way with only several hours of your time. Please consider helping and/or giving to one of our causes. By joining the CSC, you can help really make a difference (in your life and the lives of others). Come to a meeting, volunteer for an event, or just spread the word about what we are doing! There is no commitment or donation that is too little or too late.

Please feel free to contact the HCBA; Lara LaVoie,; or Lisa Esposito,, for more information.