Originally AARP developed its annual commemoration of Day of Service as a reaction to the events that transpired on Sept. 11, 2001. As the years passed, the plan was modified by AARP chapters across the nation and became a way for AARP members to give something back to their communities.
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Regardless of the event selected by various Chapters, the event became a way for Chapter members to express their care and concern and possible solutions to community issues.
This year Chapter 4777 on the island of St. John postponed their Day of Service from the nationally selected date in September to November 5th when once again the island of St. John would be visited by a group of Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
For the second year in a row, Chapter 4777 members joined representatives from the St. John American Legion Post 131 to host the luncheon closing ceremony for more than 30 veterans recovering from injuries sustained during their tour in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The veterans come to St. John for some needed rest and relaxation with their family members while continuing their therapy and enjoying kayaking. The sports of kayaking and scuba diving are perfect for individuals with missing limbs.
The Wounded Warriors annual week-long visit is funded completely by donations and St. John residents, AARP members and business owners are thrilled to be able to help. Many people conduct projects throughout the year as contests or sporting events which help to raise the over $37,000 needed to pay the airfare for the veterans and their wives. Others residents take up financial collections to pay for food or solicit gift certificates from local restaurants that go toward dinners out for members of the group. Many make outward donations to this worthy cause.
The Warriors generally stay at Cinnamon Camp Grounds, the St. John’s unique beach location that allows visitors to decide the type of camping they desire. The venue offers tents for the adventurous or more structured (half building and half tent) units that have beds, chairs and other furniture. The latter works the best for the wounded warriors.
Following a full week of activities, the entire group of veterans, along with their spouses, gets together with many of the trip sponsors from the community at a closing ceremonial luncheon hosted by the St. John American Legion and St. John AARP chapter.
“This is the Chapter’s way of giving back,” states Beverly Biziewski, Chapter President, “Many of our chapter members are veterans themselves or family members to veteran’s who served, so it gives us a tremendous sense of pride as we do something truly meaningful for young people who have given so much for our country.”
This year veterans came from Texas, New York, Colorado and Washington, D.C. The event plays a major role in each veteran’s rehabilitation and physiotherapy.