National Home’s new website up and running

29 Jan

The new VFW National Home for Children website is up and running. Click here to check it out!

Our blog can now be found on the new website by clicking on the button that says, “blog.”

We hope you find the new website helpful and easy to use!

National Home to launch new website

23 Jan

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Easier navigation and more facts and information right at your fingertips are just two of the great characteristics of the new VFW National Home for Children website that will launch soon.

As pictured above, the new website has easily accessible buttons to find out everything about your National Home from those we serve to how you can become involved in the work we do with military and veteran families. It also allows you to search the site for what you need.

Our new website is designed to make it easier for you to use and to learn more about and donate to the National Home. When it is up, take some time to look around and see for yourself what it can offer you!

Happy 90th Anniversary to the National Home!

8 Jan

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The group of children came in one and two at a time, stomping the snow and ice off of their feet. There was a blur of coats being taken off and mittens set aside, and each child was given a party hat to wear. The room was decorated with colorful balloons and shiny miniature stars.

It was time for a birthday party!

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The VFW National Home for Children recently celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a large birthday cake and talk of future plans. The staff and the children from the National Home’s preschool and child care center gathered in the Museum.

After the children were settled down, they sat down, and surrounded by adults, had their picture taken for the occasion. Then it was time for everyone to enjoy the cake.

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The Museum was a fitting place to kick-off this yearlong celebration of our 90th Anniversary. In 2015, the National Home will celebrate this milestone birthday by honoring the past with a project to renovate and update our museum. An updated museum will be housed in a renovated building and showcase the history in a way that respects the past while showing the Home from a modern, fresh perspective.

Throughout the year, we will also be commemorating this special year in other ways, such as featuring various aspects of our rich history on this blog.We will look back and remember important and interesting events that created the Home we know today.

Here’s to a wonderful 90th year of helping military and veteran families at the National Home!

Take a look at more pictures from the celebration on our Flickr!

The VFW National Home for Children—90 years and going strong

30 Dec

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It has been a wonderful year for the VFW National Home for Children! Our families are rebuilding their lives, the children are learning and growing, and everyone is taking part in the fun and educational activities offered here.

The National Home will celebrate its 90th Anniversary of taking care of our nation’s veteran and military families in 2015. It is a very exciting time! You can expect to learn more about the National Home’s history through articles and historical pictures posted here throughout the year, and there is much more planned for the 90th Anniversary.

For now, let’s take a look back at 2014…

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The National Home children and their friends got the chance to play and bounce and have fun at the UAW Carnival in February.

United Auto Workers Region 1-D Veterans Committee provides the annual event, and many members come to the National Home on carnival day to help out with the games and inflatable play places.

This year, Region 1-D was joined by Dream Girls USA members from Michigan. Dream Girls USA is a national organization that emphasizes natural beauty and community service for girls and women.

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The young people also took part in a Science Fair. They were able to use the microscopes and telescopes, and Education Specialist Dave Westjohn taught them about crystals and microscopic creatures and more. Other fun and educational activities for the adults and children that took place in 2014 included playing tennis, learning about Internet safety, and several different  DIY workshops, such as stress relief and cooking.

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On a beautiful sunny day in March—after a very long winter of frigid temperatures—the children from the National Home’s preschool and child care center were able to get out and play! Their joy shines in the pictures taken by one of the preschool’s staff.

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Bikers for Books spoke to a large gathering of children and staff at the VFW National Home for Children for March Reading Month. Bikers for Books started with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who found themselves talking about literature. Their enthusiasm and love  of the written word inspired our young people, and it was a wonderful evening for all.

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The Ohio Military Order of the Cootie arrived – along with the Easter Bunny – to the National Home in April, bringing Easter fun to kids and adults alike. The day included playing on the Bounce House, the traditional Easter egg hunt, baskets filled with candy for the children, and ice cream sundaes in the Café.

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Spring arrived and that meant the start of 4-H duties. Several National Home children and teens showed rabbits and pigs at the 2014 Eaton County Fair. Nancy Bowers is the National Home staff person who works with the young people, teaching them how to take care of the animals and how to show them during the fair each year.

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The National Home residents, staff, and guests honored the men and women who lost their lives serving their country in a solemn Memorial Day observance at the end of May. Joining us were veterans from VFW Post 7309 of Mason, Michigan.

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The National Home celebrated the accomplishments of its children, young people, and parents in a ceremony filled with laughter, remembrances, and some tears in June. The preschoolers were wished well as they planned to move onto kindergarten, the young people were recognized for various achievements in grades, exams, and for graduating, and three moms were honored for their achievements in college and work.

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After months of hard work and preparation, the young people had the opportunity to show what they are made of at the Eaton County Fair in July. The VFW Dynamos received a number of high awards, including one young lady taking first place and Reserve Champion Gilt for her pig. Reserve Champion Gilt means it is the second place pig of all the female pigs there.

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The newest Buddy Poppy Child was chosen in July. For Grant, being the 2014-2015 Buddy Poppy Child means one thing.

“I’m happy to be the Buddy Poppy so I can thank all of the veterans and their families for the sacrifices they made for our country and our freedom,” Grant said at this year’s VFW annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri.

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With August, came State Days and some special visitors—Mary Ann Pollett, Susan Schummer-Pollett, and Kathryn Schummer. These ladies are descendants of the original Pollett family, the first family to live at the National Home in 1925.  They were able to tour the campus and see some of the places that their family members saw in their lifetime. All three ladies plan to visit us again soon!

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The National Home was filled with all sorts of fantastical creatures one Saturday in October. There were princesses and a witch dressed in black and purple and Little Red Riding Hood, complete with a tiny red hood.

It was the annual Fall Festival – this year hosted by the VFW Department of Wisconsin. It was a fun time for all, children and adults!

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The VFW National Home for Children installed new officers and members to its Board of Trustees during its Annual Meeting of Life Members on October 25.

Jim Mueller of Missouri was named President and Virginia Carman of Washington is Vice President. Darlene Mays-Tittman of Virginia and Michael McGrath of Illinois were installed as Trustees.

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In November, residents and staff observed Veterans Day 2014 with fellowship, song, and remembering the veterans in their lives.

The evening opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. After dinner, one young lady read from her paper, “Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans.” The paper has won the VFW Patriot’s Pen contest at the local post level.

She spoke about how veterans are brave and kind, and devoted to protecting our country.

“Veterans have risked their lives to save our country,” she said. “As patriots, they are courageous and brave.”

Education Specialist and veteran Dave Westjohn was one of several veterans and family members to speak.

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The giving spirit of Christmas filled the VFW National Home for Children community during the month of December. The next year promises to be an exciting and wonderful time for our families, staff, and supporters. Here’s to the next 90 years!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015!

23 Dec

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The holidays have been very merry and bright here at the VFW National Home for Children! All of us at the National Home would like wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here is a short holiday video of our children and residents’ Christmas for you to enjoy on our YouTube channel!

National Home Kids Experience the Joy of Giving

19 Dec

 

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“Whoa, a lot of stuff!” said one young child.

The VFW National Home for Children’s Community Center auditorium was filled with tables, and those tables were covered with all sorts of presents the children could choose for their parents, brothers and sisters, and other relatives.

Santa’s workshop had been magically transferred from the North Pole to the National Home Santa Shop!

Indeed, to a small preschooler, the National Home’s Santa Shop could be a bit overwhelming. The Santa Shop is a store that the children and young people can shop for Christmas gifts and experience the joy of giving.

The young people spend the community service hours they have earned throughout the year on the presents. Community Service projects include volunteering at the local Humane Society, helping out at a local assisted living facility, and create and sending Christmas and other greeting cards to veterans. Each new item was donated and the overflow of gifts is also available for birthdays and other special events.

The preschoolers came up two or three at a time, each assisted by a staff person. The older children and teenagers were scheduled to do their shopping in the afternoon.

Over at a one table, a staff person was helping a little girl.

“Come over her for a minute,” she said, showing the girl a book.

The two moved on to the jewelry. The little girl held up a necklace sparkling with light pink beads, and then decided to go with a glittery makeup kit.

Then she saw a purse.

“Oh look at this!” she said, entranced by the multi-color sparkles. Next she spotted the green sparkly purse. It was a tough decision, but she stuck with her original choices.

The children finished choosing their gifts, and went to the gym to run and play and burn off some of the energy from shopping, filled with pride of having purchased Christmas gifts for their families all on their own.

To see more pictures of our youngest children taking part in Santa Shop, please go to our Flickr.

Christmas spirit fills the National Home community!

9 Dec

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The giving spirit of Christmas filled the VFW National Home for Children community during the past week.

Santa and Mrs. Claus visited each boy and girl – with help from VFW District 8 of Michigan – on Friday night. The excited children jumped up and down and ran to the front door to greet Santa and Mrs. Claus as they pulled up in the National Home fire truck.

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The jolly elf brought toys and other goodies to the children, much to their delight.

“A tool bench!” exclaimed one little boy. He was a little shy at first about approaching Santa and Mrs. Claus, but soon he was hugging them tight.

At one house, twins dressed in pink frilly skirts twirled about as they approached the couple from the North Pole. The house was decorated with lights and a white Christmas tree bedecked with colorful ornaments.

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Next stop was a home with a little boy dressed up, including a tie, and his sister in a bright red dress.

“I got Power Rangers!” he shouted. “Just what I wanted!”

At another house, a little girl worked hard to open a gift that was larger than she. Finally, the present was revealed.

“A crib for your baby,” said her mom. “Now you can put her night-night.”

The little girl toddled off, entranced by a small piece of wrapping paper with a penguin on it.

The Christmas spirit continued on Saturday with a holiday craft show, the annual Christmas lunch, the fun of the Cootie clowns, and a final visit by Santa Claus before he headed back to the North Pole.

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The holiday craft show, featuring items made by the children and others, was a big hit with its lady bug theme. There were lady bug magnets and small glass containers decorated with lady bug stickers. There also were handmade cards, homemade dish cloths, and more.

Out in the gym, Cootie clowns were tossing squishy balls back and forth and reaching into their bags to give a toy to each child as he or she walked in.

One of the clowns was Margaret Ann Simental – also known by her clown name of Percyana – from MOCA Snakie State West Virginia No. 6. Percyana has been a MOCA clown for at least 10 years, if not longer.

“I love coming up here,” she said. “The kids…the looks on their faces. It makes my day.”

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The Military Order of the Cooties (MOC) Grand of Michigan hosted the party, and Cooties came from all over the United States to take part. The lunch – Florida Picnic in the Snow – was prepared and provided by the MOC Grand of Florida. The picnic included grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, macaroni salad, chips, and other picnic fare.

Michael McGrath, the VFW Department of Illinois National Home Chairman and National Home District 8 Trustee, also attended the festivities. He praised the time and effort that so many people put into the celebration.

“Thanks to the Cooties for what they do and have done for so many years,” he said.

“I’m very appreciative of the great job done by the people who came before us and supported the Home for so many years.” he continued. “All the activities show the great enthusiasm that exists here for the sake of the kids.”

“Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…” started playing.

Santa Claus arrived with a jingle of bells and a “Ho ho ho!” It was time for each National Home girl and boy to go up and greet Santa and receive a gift. MOC Supreme Commander David Wimmer, MOCA Supreme President flo Parmelee, MOC Grand Commander of MI Eric Bell, and MOCA Grand of MI President Patricia Thorsby assisted Santa with his duties.

Smiling children and young people walked up to Santa’s sleigh to talk to him and then get their present.

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Soon it was time for Santa Claus to return to the North Pole, rest up, and prepare for Christmas Day. With a wave and a jingle of bells, he headed out.

Take a look at more pictures in our Flickr album!

 

“Dining with Distinction” – National Home young people learn about etiquette, manners

5 Dec
Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

Shelley Davis was content with her life. She had a full-time job as a bank teller, with benefits and time off to spend with her young child. Then her supervisor said something that changed her life.

“She said, ‘Shelley, you need to start looking and acting for the life that you want, not the life that you have,’” Davis said.

Davis, an Image Expert, recently brought that philosophy to the VFW National Home for Children as part of our Life Skills program. Life Skills are offered to both young people and adults. Other programs have included financial planning, parenting skills, volunteering at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek, and other subjects.

For this Life Skills program, the National Home young people and their parents learned all about “Dining with Distinction” – and the first lesson was rather surprising.

“It’s never about the food,” she said.

Instead, business dining is about connecting with people. It’s about civility and manners. It’s about putting your best self forward.

Davis opened with an overview of dining etiquette in groups. Much of her advice was common sense and kindness. You introduce yourself to everyone at the table before being seated. You introduce people who don’t know each other as soon as possible.

There are certain table manners to follow, such as seating yourself from your right-hand side and placing your napkin on your lap when seated. And there were some definite don’ts, including no grooming at the table.

“Brushing your hair…that’s the most gross thing,” Davis said. Also forbidden is applying lipstick, using a toothpick, and similar actions.

Next, Davis got to the meat of things – table conversation. She said good topics include the weather, travel, sports, movies, music, and pets. The old adage is true – politics and religion are too personal to talk at the business table. Money, gossip, and negative talk are also forbidden in this setting.

Then she went over table manners.

“Young people, I want to hear from you,” Davis said.

So some of the young people gave their own tips for good manners.

“Don’t interrupt when people are talking,” one person said.

“Always ask the person next to you for something,” another young person said.

Davis then said one staple of modern life is definitely a don’t at the table – the cell phone.

As she wrapped up, Davis stressed that in the end, etiquette was about kindness and courtesy, and how you treat others. And those are ideas that will take our young people far.

National Home Children Taste the Land’s Harvest

26 Nov

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The warm smells of baking squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes filled the kitchen. To one side, sat a towel covered with drying pumpkin seeds. There were pomegranates, with deep crimson seeds bursting out, and a pumpkin pie sitting on the counter.

The preschool-aged children of the VFW National Home for Children recently took part in a Harvest Tasting, in which they experienced the variety of fruits and vegetables of fall.

One of the childcare workers was scooping out the hot food to cool for little mouths. She explained that the pumpkin seeds would be put away until next spring for planting in the garden.

As she placed the food on small plastic plates, the reception from the children was decidedly mixed.

“Yuck!” said one little girl.

“You haven’t even tried it,” a staff person said.

Soon it was time for their feast. There was a rushing around as the children picked up the toys and put them away.

“I want pumpkin pie,” several kids yelled out.

Staff encouraged the children to at least try the unfamiliar foods. One toddler was open-minded, gamely putting pomegranate seeds in her mouth and scooping up some of the squash.

Afterward, Miss Judy went around and asked which foods the children did like.

“You liked the sweet potato,” she said to one child.

“Anyone want seconds on anything?” she asked.

The children’s response?

“Pie, pie, pie!” they chanted.

 

Veterans Day 2014

12 Nov

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“Veterans have shown kindness and honor to America in many different ways. They sacrifice their time and personal lives to give us freedom,” read the young girl. “This means sometimes they may have to leave their families and their homes for a long time.”

The VFW National Home for Children residents and staff observed Veterans Day 2014 with fellowship, song, and remembering the veterans in their lives.

The evening opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. After dinner, the young lady read from her paper, “Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans.” The paper has won the VFW Patriot’s Pen contest at the local post level.

She spoke about how veterans are brave and kind, and devoted to protecting our country.

“Veterans have risked their lives to save our country,” she said. “As patriots, they are courageous and brave.”

She should know – her mother was in the United States Navy during the Persian Gulf War and her grandfather was a Vietnam War veteran who recently passed away.

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Next, National Home Veteran Support Specialist Ben Marosi spoke. Ben is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

“Thank you for your service,” he said to the veterans gathered there.

Ben said veterans are “a rare breed.” Military service is one of self-discipline, sacrifice, and dedication.

And one more trait – “Love for your fellow Americans.” A love that would allow you to throw yourself on a live grenade for someone you just met, he said.

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Next, those in the audience were invited to share their thoughts and memories about veterans.

Education Services Supervisor Laura Lonsbery spoke first about the veterans in her family, including her husband.

“I’d like to say thank you to them, and thank you to the veterans in the crowd,” she said.

Case manager Naomi McClurg grew up on various military installations. Her father was a career military man who instilled a love of service in his children.

“We all grew up to serve,” she said. “Our choice was either to marry into the military or join the military.”

Naomi chose to marry a military man and become a social worker.

“Thank you to all the veterans for your service,” she said.

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Education Specialist Dave Westjohn is also a veteran.

“I’m a very proud U.S. Army veteran,” he said.

Dave spoke about the empty table set for one, set in a corner of the room, waiting.

“Part of the brotherhood, sisterhood is missing,” he said. “We live with dimming hope they may one day return.”

“Please remember to say a silent prayer that they may all return,” he concluded.

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The evening ended with music from country singer Tyler Roy of Battle Creek. He wrote a song titled “Be a Man” for the occasion.

“A man who will fight for you…” he sang.

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