Workers give to veterans home in lieu of picnic
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For the last several years, the John Amos Power Plant near the Kanawha/Putnam county line has had a cookout on Veterans Day to honor employees who served in the military.
This year, plant workers decided to forgo their cookout tradition to mark the holiday in another way.
Workers opted to donate about $2,000 that would have been used on the cookout to the West Virginia Veterans Home in Barboursville. The money will be used to help needy veterans at the Cabell County facility.
"One person can't take the credit for this," said Jim Bays, production services leader at John Amos Power Plant. "All of the veterans here wanted to do it."
About 52 of the 300 employees at the plant are veterans, including Bays.
The veterans appreciated the company throwing a party for them on their holiday, but they thought the money would be better spent at the Barboursville home.
"We wanted to do something that would help a place that is in our community and that would benefit veterans from our state," Bays said.
The Alum Creek native served in the West Virginia National Guard during the Reagan administration.
"We want to celebrate our veterans on Veterans Day and make sure they're taken care of," he said.
The $2,000 will go a long way in helping the approximately 100 veterans staying at the Barboursville facility, said Stacy Brown, administrator at the home.
"We feel really blessed to get this donation," she said.
Donations to the facility have fallen off drastically over the past few years because of the struggling economy, Brown said. The John Amos money will be put to good use to make the residents a little more comfortable in the days and weeks to come.
Brown said a plant representative called her "out of the blue" one recent day to inform her of the employees' decision to donate the funds.
"We were just ecstatic," she said.
Some of the money might be used for recreation. The staff often takes residents of the home on road trips to events like professional baseball games or NASCAR races.
"We couldn't do these things without donations," Brown said. "And we're humbled that employees would take something the company gives them and give it to us."
But Brown said there are no specific plans yet. The staff also could use the money to purchase Christmas gifts for the residents.
Donations are a way to show veterans that someone cares about their well-being, Brown said. Those wishing to donate may do so by calling the home at 304-736-1027.
Checks can be mailed to the West Virginia Veterans Home at 512 Water St., Barboursville, WV 25504. They should be made payable to the West Virginia Veterans Home.
Donors can designate where they want the money to go by sending a note or writing the purpose for the donation in the memo line of the check, Brown said.
The home typically has about 100 residents, she said. Most served in Vietnam. There are a few Korean War veterans and some from recent conflicts, like the Gulf War, Brown said.
The residents are provided with educational opportunities and counseling.
Many have no other place to go and often lack family support, she said. Most are struggling with substance abuse or suffer from mental health issues, she said.
The facility works closely with state Department of Veterans Assistance to identify veterans in need. Staff members also take calls from individuals who know of veterans in need of a place to stay, she said.
Anyone wishing to inquire about the services offered at the facility can call the home at 304-736-1027, Brown said.
"We'll assist them and let them know about everything they need to do to get their application processed," Brown said.