In years past, we had communal meals in the dining halls and game nights in the community rooms. But with these opportunities suppressed during the pandemic, we witnessed how detrimental the prolonged periods of isolation and loneliness were to the veterans.
Realizing that our veteran residents needed new avenues to safely socialize and come out of isolation, our creative program staff began delivering ice cream and freshly baked cookies door to door to get the residents out of their room for casual well-visits. They also organized onsite outdoor activities such as drum classes, bike safety classes, and picnics to give residents reasons to gather in community safely. Outdoor gardening also provided a new purpose, and small group excursions to the beach and Golden Gate Park gave participants hope for a better day.
Some of these activities were possible through the help of generous partners. Before COVID, Raul, a veteran resident at Stanford, used to be actively involved with Veterans and Equines Together, but the pandemic forced this program to go on hiatus. Raul became ill during COVID and could no longer take advantage of equine-assisted therapy sessions. When the owner of the program heard about Raul, she arranged for their thoughtful volunteers to bring some pony love right to his door as a surprise for him during Thanksgiving! Raul was ecstatic to see his beloved pony again.
Wooden Boats for Veterans also donated an excursion opportunity for veterans to be out in the Bay, while the Warriors organization donated tickets to the games for vaccinated veterans. It is extremely important for veterans, especially during the pandemic, to experience a taste of normalcy that can meaningfully enrich the quality of their lives. Whether it is a pair of tickets to the symphony or baseball games, we welcome donations that allow veterans to feel like they are included in the day-to-day fabric of American life.