Veterans Club brings memories to life
After seeing an impressive display at the USA Day celebration held at Gillette Road Middle School a few years ago, Debbie Christiansen, of Cicero, had no doubt that she wanted WWII veteran Ed Zaluski, 85, to visit the St. Camillus Veterans Club.
Christiansen, the director of creative services for St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center in Geddes, said Zaluski's display at USA Day was amazing. Zaluski is a member of the Cicero VFW No. 7290. Zaluski, who flew B24 Liberator Bombers with the U.S. Air Corps 11th Bombardment Group, visited St. Camillus in the afternoon Friday Dec. 11.
Since the fall of 2008, St. Camillus residents who are war veterans from different U.S. military branches have been gathering for monthly meetings and events for their Veterans Club.
Formulating the idea for the club came with some hints and assistance from a resident.
Mary Ellen Steele, the director of recreational services at St. Camillus, said there was a resident who suggested the idea although he was "never a big group joiner."
"He asked me, 'What can we do for veterans?'" Steele said. "I thought, this could be something we can go to get him to come to activities."
Unfortunately, the wise resident passed away before the club came to be, said Steele, but he is honored by the fact that the club is now a reality and still going strong. Now, when any resident is admitted to St. Camillus, he or she is asked if they are a veteran and if they want to join the club.
The club collaborated ideas for a T-shirt design that Christiansen developed. Members regularly wear their red, white and blue Veterans Club T-shirts that have each military branch represented.
Steele said the club generally meets once a month to share stories, listen to speakers such as Zaluski or brainstorm ideas on what they can do as a group to help active soldiers. The club is currently hosting a donation drive to collect small items that can be sent to a regiment in Afghanistan.