Asked about the transportation program at Veterans Affairs for Nassau County, director Ralph Esposito said, “We do provide transportation, but it’s a little rough. We have 30 drivers and 10 cars, and July and August are my toughest times.” Joyce Mullen, the FCA’s director of marketing and communications, added that the problem isn’t limited to the summer months.
The residence relies heavily on donations from the local community, and is always in need of more. “Home Depot has been unbelievable in their donations of money and service,” said Bell. “They have already put up a fence, painted the house and now just recently gave a $5,000 grant to put in a new bathroom.”
MSC Industrial Direct, an industrial supply company, has visited the residents, shared meals, had food catered and brought them holiday gifts. Mullen said she is pleased with the company’s efforts, and encourages more volunteers to do the same. “The vets appreciate visits,” she said, “and would like more company.” According to James B., representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs rarely drop by.
Several organizations and families occasionally drop off groceries and cooked food. “There’s one group that brings us an entire Thanksgiving meal every year,” said James. The American Legion Post across the street also helps the men throughout the year, and Betty Tucker, of the American Legion’s Women’s Auxiliary in Merrick, also does a lot for the men, Bell said.
Looking for services
What the men really need, according to the FCA, are a variety of services, because most are disabled or too elderly to work around the house. “We really need volunteers who have electrical and carpentry experience,” said Bell, “because we’re in desperate need of cabinets and storage.” He added that he is also looking for volunteers to help build a new bathroom with money donated by Home Depot.