PALM DESERT, Calif., --
Sailors with 23rd Dental Company spread cheer to retirees living at Atria Hacienda Senior Living, in Palm Desert, Calif., during the home’s annual Holiday Gala party Dec. 16, 2011.
The gala is the staff’s gift to the residents. Combat Center sailors have volunteered their time with the residents for years.
“They always get very excited when I tell them we have sailors visiting,” said Susan Maderick, engaged life director, Atria Hacienda.
Having active duty military members visit means a little extra to a lot of the residents.
Many of them are veterans and they love sharing stories with the young men and women, said Ronald Bianchi, relative of a Atria Hacienda resident.
For the younger volunteers, this opportunity was more fulfilling than they originally planned.
“I got to eat a lot of good food and meet interesting people. I liked just learning about their different experiences that branch back to World War II,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Cortes, hospital corpsman, 23rd Dental.
One of the residents impressed the service members in the group with stories of her time in the Marine Corps.
Laverne Collins was an active duty Marine from 1943 to 1945 as a chow hall worker. She also served as a bartender for the Women’s Officers’ Club and sorted some of the chow hall scraps John Wayne purchased to feed his cattle.
As everyone finished their dinners some went into another room and danced to classic holiday songs.
Maderick pointed out residents for the sailors to ask to dance.
As the sailors left the retirement home, the residents and staff reassured them that they are more than welcome to come back anytime.
“I am urging the gentlemen who have come before to continue coming because it is a joy to have them and they are just a great bunch of guys,” Maderick said.