by Sandi Fahy
Photo by SANDI FAHY
DAV Auxiliary Helps Disabled Veterans and Their Families
CLEARWATER - Women related to disabled veterans banded in 1922 to found the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary. Its purpose was to help the families of the veterans who had sacrificed so much for our country in World War I. Today the DAV Auxiliary has some 1,500 units across the country which serve disabled veterans and their families. Each year, members of these groups donate more than one and a half million hours of their time to volunteer work with patients at veterans' hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and domiciliaries. They provide various direct service programs designed to help older veterans, widows, children and homeless vets and they also fight for the rights and benefits of veterans as well.
Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary Unit 11 in Clearwater is one of two DAVA units in Pinellas County. On April 10, members hosted a luncheon and fashion show to raise funds to aid disabled veterans in the community. The event was one of several fundraisers Auxiliary 11 holds throughout the year. A pancake breakfast is scheduled the first Saturday of each month. Some of the local charitable organizations supported by Auxiliary 11 are Fisher House at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen. Proceeds from fundraisers also go to the Marie Waldman Scholarship Fund and the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge.
Promoting Americanism is another project of the organization. Fifth grade students at Skycrest Elementary School were recently invited to take part in this year's Americanism essay contest sponsored by the unit. Winners will be announced in June.
Shirley Kirkland is commander of Auxiliary Unit 11. Other officers are Brenda Lee Nielsen, senior vice commander; Janice Snow-Breedlove, junior vice commander; Annette Bouvier, adjutant; Barbara Shepard, treasurer; and Polly Drake, chaplain. Bouvier and Jackie Kirkland were coordinators of the recent fashion show luncheon.
Women who are wives, widows, mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters and great granddaughters of vets who were disabled or died in military service and women veterans who belong to the DAV are eligible for annual or life membership in the Auxiliary. Daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters of Auxiliary members who are under age 18 are invited to join the unit's junior organization.