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Modern Woodmen of America, Rock Island, IL

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Inside Look

See a Modern Woodmen chapter volunteer project in action.

A Modern Woodmen chapter volunteer project helps homeless veterans in East Tennessee.

Sheets for vets

What does a Modern Woodmen chapter volunteer project look like? The simple answer: It depends.

Chapter members across the country identify specific needs in their local communities. Then they respond to them. That could mean building a wheelchair ramp, planting flowers or holding a chili cook-off fundraiser.

For chapter members in the Johnson City, Tennessee, area, it meant delivering comfort and good will one brisk October morning in the middle of a torrential downpour.

Step 1: Identify the need

The Manna House provides safe and affordable transitional housing for homeless men who are focused on improving their current situation. Many of the residents have struggled with addiction, legal problems and mental health issues. Many are also veterans.

A community member discovered the 24-bed facility was in need of new sheets. She mentioned this need to Modern Woodmen representative Derrick Paduch, who in turn shared the need with fellow chapter members in the area. A volunteer project was born.

We couldn’t survive without the donations we get from the community.

Step 2: Meet the need

In the following weeks, Derrick and other chapter members talked with The Manna House staff and worked with a local retail store to purchase 50 discounted twin sheet sets with chapter funds.

A downpour that hit East Tennessee didn’t stop members from fulfilling their mission. On their designated delivery day, members rushed through the rain to load the boxes of sheets into their vehicles and unload them at The Manna House.

Manna House staffer Carla Honeycutt cleared a space in the facility’s small storage room, and chapter member Dallas Hensley stocked the shelves with the new sheet sets.

“We couldn’t survive without the donations we get from the community,” Carla says. “A lot of times, the sheets we get aren’t brand new. This is like Christmas day for the guys.”

One of The Manna House residents invited chapter members Bob and Anna Ruth Davidson and chapter activities coordinator Kelly Kilday into his living quarters. The volunteers learned a little about this veteran’s story while they stripped worn-out sheets off his bed and presented him with a brand-new set.

Step 3: Feel good about a job well done

The volunteer project didn’t take long to complete, but its impact will be felt for the foreseeable future – by the staff and residents of The Manna House and by the chapter members themselves.

“I’ve always had a place in my heart for veterans,” says chapter member Dallas Hensley, who is a veteran himself. “Life’s about service to your fellow man. It gives you a satisfied feeling, rather than doing things for yourself all the time. I’m glad I was able to help out.”