Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS 1st Annual Picnic at North Point Home

by Jim Houck, Jr.

COLUMN-Jim-Houck--North-PoiSaturday, June 5, 2015, started out as a dreary, rainy day to have a picnic—especially the very first one—for the immediate residents of North Point Home in Hagerstown. The Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS), led by representative Jim Payne and aided by National AMVETS appointed Deputy VAVS representatives Dick Fleagle and Jim Houck Jr., along with Ed Stely, our Department of Maryland Commander, and Bob Stouffer, our Department of Maryland Adjutant, had been planning the picnic for a long time and were hoping for a beautiful day to have it. The food was purchased and prepared, the drinks were chilling. Dr. Mudcat’s Medicine Show Karaoke and DJ, operated by Mike Mahoney, was being set up. Things were set to kick off at high noon, and Director of North Point Home Jennifer Drake, along with her staff and the residents, were anxiously awaiting the event. Suddenly the skies cleared and the sun appeared; it was clear that God had heard our silent prayers. The crew arrived and began to set up all the tents, tables, and chairs, as well as getting the grill ready and bringing out the ice chests, filled with soda pop and water. We could tell it was going to turn into a great day and a great picnic. Mike (Dr. Mudcat) got his medicine show going to start off the fun. The Department of Maryland AMVETS Auxiliary was represented by their President, Mary McKinnon. We had three Sons of AMVETS Squadrons, three AMVETS Auxiliary Units, and two AMVETS Veteran Post Members from Maryland represented at the picnic: Sons of AMVETS Squadrons— Squadron 7 from Thurmont, Squadron 9 from Middletown, and Squadron 10 from Hagerstown; AMVETS Auxiliary Units—Unit 7 from Thurmont, Unit 9 from Middletown, and Unit 10 from Hagerstown; AMVETS Veteran Post Members—AMVETS Post 7 from Thurmont and AMVETS Post 10 from Hagerstown. Jim Payne had certainly done his job well; everything was in place and everyone was enjoying themselves. The Catoctin Hollow Boys even made an appearance and sang a few songs. Donny McKinnon was in fine voice as he sang Sinatra and Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) and some other songs. Mike Mahoney sang a few songs while he attended the equipment. The music and festivities soon began to draw in the neighborhood children, and they were all invited to join in the festivities. The kids soon wanted to sing karaoke; several of them did, and they really enjoyed being in the spotlight. Bobby Stouffer had the hot dogs and burgers grilled, and it was time to eat. All food was taken inside and laid out, and what a layout it was! There was a fruit tray, a vegetable tray, a cheese tray, a meat tray, baked beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, slaw, rolls, and cookies. Everyone filled their plates and found a seat inside or outside. Everyone really seemed to enjoy all the delicious food. When everyone had satisfied their appetite, the festivities resumed outside. Commander Ed Stely and VAVS Representative Jim Payne presented an award to Brett Brown from Gladhill’s Furniture warehouse for allowing us to store our used furniture, which is donated by generous people from around the state of Maryland, to be used by the homeless Veterans, who are helped to become independent and lead fruitful lives on their own, to furnish their apartments. Commander Ed Stely also presented the plaque to Jim Nicholson, the general manager of Gladhill’s Furniture. Thank you Brett and Jim for all you have done to help our Veterans. The festivities began again after the presentation of the award and a bit of excitement was felt by all when Jim Payne came through the door with a large clothes basket filled with water balloons. We could tell by the way the kids eyes lit up that if you wanted to stay dry, hide. The kids had a ball with the water balloons that Jennifer Drake filled, and they commenced to throw them at all the guests, giving some a good soaking. Mary Mahoney and Sandi Burns joined in, trying to soak the kids and got pretty well soaked themselves. I think it was decided that the water balloons will not make an appearance at the next annual picnic. I took over 150 photos. If you would like to see them, go to Facebook: Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS, and you will be able to view them. The 1st Annual Picnic at North Point Home was a huge success, and we will strive to make each one in the future equally as successful. We give thanks to Jennifer Drake and her staff, the residents of North Point Home, and all who participated from the AMVETS family, for their help and support to keep this great institution open for our homeless Veterans living on the streets of our great nation, and for helping to give them a so-deserving second chance at independent living. If you have furniture you no longer use or need, please consider giving it for this worthwhile cause. Contact Jim Payne at 240-446-7183 or Ed Stely at 301-524-9333 to make arrangements for a pick-up at your convenience. We also need items such as toilet paper, paper towels, wash cloths, bath towels, small kitchen appliances, plates, silverware—basically everything to start housekeeping from the start. Due to state laws, the only item we cannot accept is used mattresses. All those who participated in the 1st Annual Picnic at North Point Home should give themselves a big pat on the back for helping to make it a tremendously successful event. Thank you! God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veterans, and God Bless You.

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