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Residents at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington are seen in these images recently posted on the facility's Facebook page. Many of the residents are using Facebook and Skype to keep in touch with family.

Vermont Veterans Home Hosts Vehicle Parade on Saturday

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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BENNINGTON, Vt. — Veterans are a familiar site at small-town parades, usually as marchers.
 
On Saturday at the Vermont Veterans Home, many local vets will be on the sidelines as the facility invites friends, family and members of the public to the home's first Vehicle Parade.
 
Participants are asked to report for a lineup in the back parking lot at 2 p.m. and to remain in their vehicles as they drive around the residential and health care campus, waving to and providing moral support for the residents inside.
 
"We've gotten tremendous feedback on the parade," said Melinda Crowl, the marketing and admissions coordinator for the home. "We've had people calling from three hours away asking, 'Is so-and-so going to be in the window?' There are a couple of groups of people who ride motorcycles who are going to be coming.
 
"I'm actually kind of shocked from the feedback we've gotten. People are really looking forward to it."
 
The Vermont Veterans Home, which has a capacity of 130 beds, has been closed to visitors since March 13.
 
Crowl said the staff has done what it can to keep up patients' morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
"We're doing hallway bingo, we just put up a hope Christmas tree today in red white and blue," she said. "Everyone is around putting up Christmas lights. The residents have been Facetiming with their families and Skyping. We're putting some of our residents up on Facebook so their family members can see them. Some are coloring rainbows to put in their windows. We've had special meals."
 
Crowl said the home purchased iPads to help some of the residents connect with family.
 
"We had Skype capabilities before, but a lot of people prefer Facetime," she said. "They're able to do it daily. I see them doing it two, three, four times a day."
 
Cowlin said the home has yet to see its first case of COVID-19. The three-week shut-down to visitors appears to have helped in that regard. But it is prepared for the possibility.
 
Crowl said the home has designated one of its units for respiratory cases "if the need arises."
 
"We had one case in there with the flu, just the regular flu," she said. "That was our test case. We kicked the flu's butt, so hopefully we will with coronavirus, too."
 
While events like Saturday's vehicle parade will help lift the spirits of residents in the home, it also will show support for the medical professionals who care for the veterans, spouses and Gold Star parents who are served by the Vermont Veterans Home.
 
"It is stressful, truthfully, for our staff here," Crowl said of the pandemic. "But they know where their priorities lie. A lot of them are happy to come in and do what they set out to do.
 
"Morale is not dwindling by any means. Everyone here knows what their responsibilities are, and we're happy to come in."

Tags: COVID-19,   vermont veterans home,   veterans services,   


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SVHC Fundraiser Features Virtual Grand Raffle & Drawings

BENNINGTON, Vt. — The Jingle Bell Express, a virtual holiday-themed fundraising event to benefit Southwestern Vermont Health Care, kicked off on Friday, Nov. 20.
 
The centerpiece of the event is a grand raffle. It includes 10 packages worth $1,300 to $5,000 each. Prizes include $5,000 cash and a vacation in the French Riviera, with no expiration date, along with packages including dining at 13 restaurants, a diamond bracelet, golf at 10 courses, and much more.
 
Tickets are $100 each, and only 500 will be sold. One ticket offers a one-in-50 chance to win prizes valued at a total of more than $20,000. Ticket sales close on Monday, Dec. 14. The drawing will take place during a virtual event at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18. Tickets can be purchased at thejinglebellexpress.com.
 
"Participating in The Jingle Bell Express is an exciting way to celebrate the season and support your hardworking local healthcare providers," said Leslie Keefe, the vice president for corporate development at SVHC. "We hope the community will support our caregivers and join us in this special event."
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