The Vietnam Veterans of American chapter 789 has earned a reputation for helping local seniors, veterans and disabled members of the community. And recently, the VVA gave away fans to qualified seniors to help them through the summer.
According to former VVA president Adna “Chad” Chaffee, this year was the fifth time the group raised funds to buy fans for seniors who don’t have or can’t afford air conditioning in their homes. He said that in the past, they only raised enough money to buy 25 fans to give away. This year, however, they raised enough for 45 fans.
On Wednesday, Chaffee and several seniors who qualified for free fans met at the Hinesville home of Irene Myers, a local “outreach angel” who helps others despite her own limited resources.
“We have 25 fans left to give away,” Chaffee said. “We gave away 20 fans last week in the Midway area with the help of Dennis Fitzgerald, commander of the American Legion, Post 321. We held several fundraisers this year and received donations from businesses and members of the community. We really want to thank Walmart for not only letting us do a fundraiser outside their store, but also for a special price they gave us on the fans.”
Chaffee said the VVA doesn’t just care for Vietnam-era or other veterans, but also for veterans’ surviving spouses and community members in need, particularly seniors and the disabled. He said they didn’t have a fan giveaway last year but want to make it an annual event.
Although Myers is not a veteran or military spouse, Chaffee said she has been involved with the fan giveaways every year.
“I do outreach out of my home,” Myers said. “I’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve worked with Deacon Chaffee and the VVA for a long time. They’re such a blessing. The VVA and other veterans’ organizations do so much for people and don’t charge anything. They just want to help.”
By 10 a.m. Wednesday, only four people had showed up at Myers’ home for free fans. Myers said she had requests from several other seniors who are homebound, and that she’d get somebody to help her deliver those fans.
Dorothy Rose, Charlotte McGregory and Sue Smith were among those who came. Smith was unable to stand and walk for any period of time and had to use her cane to get from her daughter’s car to Myers’ porch. Her daughter, who preferred not to be identified, picked up her fan for her. After the fans were given, she gave Myers a big hug, a thank-you and a box of chocolate-covered cherries.
McGregory, who recently suffered a stroke, also had difficulty walking. She said she praises Jesus for being alive and thanked Myers and Chaffee for the fan.
“I just want to say something, if I can,” Myers said as the other ladies were about to leave. “I wish more people would start giving a helping hand to veterans. They need more help than they’re getting from veterans organizations because there are so many veterans. You don’t have to have a lot to help others. I live on Social Security — that’s it. It ain’t about what you got, anyway. It’s about what you can do for others.”