Last Mile Ride Raises Record $56,000 for Patients at End of Life

Last Mile Ride

The Stockwell family is ready to ride Saturday at Gifford Medical Center. (Provided: Janet Miller)

RANDOLPH – Nearly 300 motorcyclists, cyclists and runners/walkers participated in Gifford Medical Center’s eighth annual Last Mile Ride on Saturday, raising a record $56,000 for end-of-life care.

Beneath sunny skies, the day juxtaposed heart-wrenching, yet inspiring, stories of loss with a celebration featuring the high tempo sounds of “Jeanne and The Hi-Tops,” food, fun and prize awards.

Earning the top prize for his fund-raising efforts was Reg Mongeur of Randolph, who collected $3,458 from generous friends, family and strangers alike. A much-anticipated Harley/$5,000 cash raffle was won by Carol Bushey of Brookfield. A quilt made by Gifford nursing staff and a patient went to Martha Howe of Randolph.

Last Mile Ride

Runners sprint through the start line of the 5K Fun Run as part of the Last Mile Ride. (Provided: Tammy Hooker)

Palliative care physicians Dr. Cristine Maloney and Dr. Jonna Goulding along with rider/founder and Gifford nurse Lynda McDermott all addressed the crowds, offering thanks for riders’ efforts to make the hospital’s dream of providing alternative therapies, special wishes and more for free for patients in the last mile of life.

“Everyone has arrived here today for unique personal reasons to unite in a larger, common cause. Many are motivated to be here to honor the loss of a loved one and to ensure that future families shepherding someone to the end of life are granted gifts or services … ,” Gifford Director of Development Ashley Lincoln said.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists leave Gifford Medical Center Saturday for the Last Mile Ride. (Provided: Janet Miller)

“The enthusiasm of this crowd and the building excitement of riders garners more and more sponsors, gives me and the staff at Gifford … not only financial reserves but emotional reserves to walk alongside our friends and neighbors on some of their longest days,” Lincoln continued.

Shelly Pearce knows how long those days can be. Her husband Kevin died in the Garden Room on July 4. On Saturday, Shelly Pearce offered an emotional, personal thanks to riders.

“The Last Mile Ride funds helped us as a family in numerous ways,” said Pearce, describing massages for pain management, meals for the family, a gas card and a special family celebration. “So whether this is your first or your eighth time participating in the Last Mile Ride, I want you all to know what a difference you making in a patient and their family’s life. Keep participating or volunteering even if it seems like a small thing, because it is very important and appreciated.”

Last Mile Ride

Led by Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, motorcyclists return to Gifford during the Last Mile Ride held Saturday in support of end-of-life care. (Provided: Janet Miller)

The Last Mile Ride began in 2006 when McDermott brought the idea forward to help provide comfort measures for people in life’s last mile. The first ride was held in 2006, and since its number of participants, funds raised and impact have all grown.

The event now includes a 5K and cycle ride in addition to the popular motorcycle ride. And this year’s event featured a Friday night “Kick-Off Rally” of dinner and dancing at the Three Stallion Inn with more than 80 community members and Last Mile participants in attendance.

The Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce made the event possible.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists and motorcyclists line up for the post-ride BBQ. (Provided: Janet Miller)

The Last Mile Ride was made possible by a huge group of volunteers, who were mostly Gifford employees who gave up their Saturday to support the cause, as well as volunteers from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, the Green Mountain Bike Patrol, police support in multiple towns, and Terry Heath and Erin Bianchi of Massage Professionals of Randolph.

Significant community involvement came in the forms of people lining the event routes to show support and many, many sponsors. Among this year’s sponsors were the Frankenburg Agency Inc., Froggy 100.9, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Northfield Savings Bank, Wilkins Harley-Davidson, Booth Brothers Dairy, Connor Contracting, E-Management Associates, Mascoma Savings Bank, Aubuchon Hardware, Barry T. Chouinard Inc., Dimmik Wastewater Service, Gillespie Fuels and Propane, Infinitt North America, K&R Rentals and Storage, Kleen Inc., Magee Office Products, MetLife, Rain or Shine Tent and Events Company, Schiring Radiographic Imaging, Superior Development and many others.

Next year’s Last Mile Ride will be Aug. 16, or the third Saturday in August.

Last Mile Ride

Shelly Pearce, right, offers her heartfelt thanks to Last Mile riders as her daughter, Samantha Blakeney, provides her comfort. Pearce’s husband, who was Blakeney’s stepfather, died just last month in the Garden Room at Gifford. The ride raises money for patients like Kevin and families like the Pearces. (Provided: Tammy Hooker)

Motorcycle Ride Honors Kevin Pearce, Others in Life’s Last Mile

On Saturday, Aug. 17, hundreds of motorcyclists, cyclists, and runners/walkers will take to the streets of the Randolph area for the Last Mile Ride. The ride raises money for special services for Gifford Medical Center patients in advanced illness and at the end of life.

This is one patient’s story.

Kevin Pearce

Kevin Pearce in 1976 at age 16. (Photo provided)

A native of Waitsfield, Kevin Pearce was born in Vermont in 1960. He moved to Massachusetts with his family when he was just 3. He grew up in Charlemont and Ashfield, Mass., dropping out of high school to work on a potato farm during a time when dyslexia was less understood and Kevin found himself labeled as “dumb” for his inability to read.

He went on to run heavy equipment, assembling and disassembling ski area chair lifts in Massachusetts, until tragedy brought him back to Vermont.

Kevin had been married, divorced, was engaged, and moving in with his fiancée when she was killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver on her way to bring her final carload of belongings to what was to be their shared home.

Immediately following the funeral, Kevin packed a bag and took a bus to his native Vermont. Continue reading

Watercolors by Greg Crawford Now in Gifford Gallery

watercolor paintingDetailed and gorgeous watercolors by Stockbridge’s Greg Crawford fill the walls of the Gifford Gallery now until Sept. 25.

Crawford is a self-taught artist who has been a graphics professional for nearly fifty years. His father was an artist too, and Crawford was determined to be one from the time he could hold a pencil.

While still a junior in high school, he sold a cartoon about the Beatles to the Saturday Evening Post. The issue appeared the week the group appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” in February of 1964. As a result, Crawford was a celebrity of sorts for a while, and then went back to being the “weird kid” who drew pictures in algebra class, he says.

A rich and varied career as an illustrator and graphic designer that started right out of high school provided him with the opportunity to work in nearly every medium there is, but his first love has always been watercolor.

“Watercolor can be an unforgiving medium; you cannot cover up a mistake as easily as oils or acrylics might permit,” Crawford says. “Ah, but the ‘happy accidents’ one occasionally encounters can be gratifying, indeed.

“Juxtaposing detailed subjects with loose, washy backgrounds can yield dramatic results. The subtle transitions that can be achieved when blending colors are unique to watercolor.”

Crawford has illustrated several books and covers and has a few children’s books to his credit, some of which he wrote as well. He is currently illustrating “The Flying Mouse,” which will be followed by a book he wrote and illustrated called “Hill Farm.”

When illustrating a book, Crawford researches his subjects thoroughly and takes many reference photos so light, shadow, fabric and reflections are accurately rendered.

Crawford has also enjoyed taking part in community theater for more than two decades, and has portrayed many well-known characters in musical theater. He designed and helped to build sets for many productions. For the past six years, he has designed and built the sets for Chandler Center for the Arts children’s theater camp productions that are presented over the Fourth of July weekend every year.

Not content to simply paint, illustrate, design, and act, Greg also writes the occasional theater review for The Herald of Randolph. He wrote a short play called “Finding Earl” and well over a hundred articles for The Mountain Times of Killington.

Crawford was not born in Vermont, but he says he got here as fast as he could, sometime back in the 1970s.

See his free show in the Gifford Gallery, located just left of the main lobby of the medical center at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. To learn more about the Gallery, call (802) 728-2324.

Year in Review – Part 4

Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the fourth quarter excerpt.

OCTOBER

Food choices in the Gifford cafeteria get even healthier as the hospital transitions to a healthy breakfast bar; healthier, lower salt meats; less butter and heavy cream in foods; and more grains and legumes as starches.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott stops at Gifford on his “Cycling Vermont’s 14″ 500-mile bicycle tour of the state’s 14 counties. He tours Menig as part of his stop.

Dr. Josh Plavin, a National Health Service Corps scholarship recipient, speaks out for the federal program supporting primary care providers on Corps Community Day on Oct. 11, and for the need for more primary care providers, especially in rural regions.

Two local women, Krista Warner and Teresa Bradley, organize a bowling tournament in support of Gifford’s Woman to Woman fund and raise $1,485 for breast cancer awareness.

The CT scanner is upgraded from a 40-slice model to a 64-slice model, offering patients faster service, clearer imaging, and less radiation.

NOVEMBER

A new system, a CAREpoint Workstation, for transmitting EKGs from ambulances in the field to the Gifford Emergency Department is brought online. The system, generously paid for by the Gifford Auxiliary, is for use with heart attack patients to determine if they should be brought to Gifford or directly to a cardiac catheterization lab at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center or Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Stuff a TruckMenig residents work with school children from the Baptist Fellowship of Randolph to create 100 boxes of gifts for children in Third World countries through Operation Christmas Child.

Working with Connor Contracting Inc., Gifford staff and community members Stuff a Truck for Hurricane Sandy survivors in the Rockaway neighborhood of Long Island, New York.

The first patient is seen in the Radiology Department’s new fluoroscopy room. The room is utilized for interventional radiology procedures, which have grown in number.

Great American Smoke OutAll Gifford grounds go smoke-free in concert with the Great American Smoke Out on Nov. 15.

Gifford’s Annual Craft Fair raises funds for the Adult Day Program.

Married couple Elvira Dana and Jason Kass travel 36 hours from their home in Armenia to give birth at Gifford, for a second time.

Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, the Vermont Ethics Network, and Gifford’s Advanced Illness Care team join together to offer a community discussion around end-of-life care planning. Other talks on death and dying continue at Gifford in the months that follow.

DECEMBER

Family physician Barbara Lazar joins Gifford, bringing a love of geriatrics to the Randolph team.

Chef Wendell Fowler leads a free talk on the pitfalls of the American diet. He suggests cutting the food additives, chemicals, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup in favor of fresher, less-processed foods to improve our health.

Gifford once again supports the community through its holiday gift certificate program – a buy local program where employees receive “gift certificates” redeemable only at regional, locally-owned businesses.

Randolph Concert Series Begins Tuesday at Gifford

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center’s summer concert series resumes Tuesday with the Phineas Gage Project in the Randolph hospital’s Route 12 park at 6 p.m.

A folk funk band from Waitsfield, Phineas Gage features Rob Williams, Erica Stroem and James Kinne on guitar, mandolin and djembe, plus the occasional hooter and harmonica.

The band plays “music for happy brains,” including “grove-filled” originals and favorite covers from the past 50 years. It’s music to dance by and brought to you thanks to sponsorship from Gillespie Fuels and Propane and The Frankenburg Agency.

The following week, on July 30, The Lyra Summer Music Workshop comes to the Gifford park. Lyra Summer Music is an intensive summer workshop for piano and string musicians.

Featured on July 30 in Randolph at Gifford will be students and faculty performing a broad array of classical solo and chamber music selections. The concert is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane and Catamount Kitchen and Design.

In a rescheduled concert (due to rain), the Friends of Gifford perform on Aug. 1. Performing will be Gifford employees Greg McConnell, Mike Berry and Claudette Goad, who make up Diamonds in the Rough, a blue grass and gospel group. The concert is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane.

Songs and standards from Chris Smith and Friends follows on Aug. 6, again sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane. Smith is a local musician, educator and writer.

Panton Flats, a blues, soul, rock and R&B group from Vergennes, plays on Aug. 13. Born out of an impromptu jam session at 2009 benefit concert, Panton Flats has been playing its original and highly “danceable” music around Vermont since. Its Gifford concert is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane and Catamount Kitchen and Design.

Finally, on Aug. 20, fiddler Beth Telford and guitarist Jim Green visit the Gifford park with their Celtic museum. The concert is sponsored by The Frankenburg Agency.

All shows are at 6 p.m. Bring your lawn chair, picnic blanket, family and friends. Concerts are weather dependent. Visit www.giffordmed.org or like Gifford on Facebook for updates. Gifford and the Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce partnered to organize the series.

Gifford Offering a Variety of Trainings for Parents, Children

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center is offering a handful of upcoming trainings aimed at children and families.

On Aug. 8, the Randolph hospital is host to both a “Family and Friends CPR” course and a “Nurturing Healthy Sexual Development” training. Both events are from 6-8 p.m. The non-certification CPR course is offered by Gifford’s Blueprint team in Conference Center. Register by calling 728-7100, ext. 6.

The sexual development course is in The Family Center (beside Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery) and offered by Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. The course, aimed at child care providers and parents of young children, focuses on normal sexual development and behaviors in young children, and what both children and adults need to know to keep children safer.

Among the topics to be discussed are how to response to sexual questions and behaviors, and preventing child sexual abuse.

Participants must register by calling Nancy Clark at Gifford at 728-2274.

Clark follows this training with two others – these aimed at children.

On Saturday, Aug. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. a Babysitter’s Training Course will be offered in The Family Center. The course teaches budding babysitters how to be safe, responsible and successful. It covers good business practices, basic care, diapering, safety, play, proper hand washing, handling infants, responding to injuries, decision making in emergencies, action plans and much more.

Communication skills are emphasized along with being a good role model, and participants receive a certification card upon completion of the course and reference notebook to take home. The course is offered by instructor Jude Powers.

Would-be babysitters should sign up with Clark by Aug. 17. There is a $20 fee to participant and participants should bring their lunch.

Finally on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Powers will offer a training for children ages 8-11 called “Home Alone and Safe.”

Designed by chapters of the American Red Cross, this course teaches children how to respond to home alone situations, including Internet safety, family communications, telephone safety, sibling care, personal and gun safety, and basic emergency care. Children will role play, brainstorm, watch a video, take home a workbooks and handouts, and earn a certification upon completion.

The cost to participate is $15. Participants should sign up with Clark, again at 728-2274.

For more information on other upcoming Gifford events, visit www.giffordmed.org.

Randolph Concert Series Begins Tuesday at Gifford

summer concert seriesGifford Medical Center’s summer concert series starts tomorrow (Tuesday, July 16) and continues primarily on Tuesdays throughout the summer. All shows are free and start at 6 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Route 12 park space.

Starting the series is the South Royalton Band, conducted by Dick Ellis and comprised of more than two dozen musicians from central Vermont. One of few surviving town bands in the region, the South Royalton Band is known for playing marches, songs from Broadway, novelties, Dixieland music, patriotic numbers and more. The South Royalton Band plays July 16. The concert is sponsored by The Frankenburg Agency.

The following week on July 23 folk funk band Phineas Gage of Waitsfield takes to the Gifford park. Sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane and The Frankenburg Agency, Phineas Gage is an acoustic power band playing “music for happy brains,” including originals and covers from the last 50 years.

On July 30 will be The Lyra Summer Music Workshop, including students and faculty participating in an intensive summer workshop for piano and string musicians. Performed will be a broad array of classical solo and chamber music selections. The concert is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane and Catamount Kitchen and Design.

In a rescheduled concert (due to rain), the Friends of Gifford perform on Aug. 1. Performing will be Gifford employees Greg McConnell, Mike Berry and Claudette Goad, who make up Diamonds in the Rough, a blue grass and gospel group. The concert is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane.

Songs and standards from Chris Smith and Friends follows on Aug. 6, again sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane. Smith is a local musician, educator and writer.

Panton Flats, a blues, soul, rock and R&B group from Vergennes, plays on Aug. 13. Born out of an impromptu jam session at 2009 benefit concert, Panton Flats has been playing its original and highly “danceable” music around Vermont since. Its Gifford concert is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane and Catamount Kitchen and Design.

Finally, on Aug. 20, fiddler Beth Telford and guitarist Jim Green visit the Gifford park with their Celtic museum. The concert is sponsored by The Frankenburg Agency.

Bring your lawn chair, picnic blanket, family and friends. Concerts are weather-dependent. Visit www.giffordmed.org or “like” Gifford on Facebook for updates. Gifford and the Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce partnered to organize the series.

Experienced Anesthesiologist Dr. Madeline Waid Joins Gifford

Gifford Medical CenterRANDOLPH – Madeline Waid dreamed of being a musician. Her mother wasn’t having it.

“My mother would take me around and show me all of the unemployed people who majored in music,” Waid recalls.

Waid’s fallback? Medicine. She was good at science and so – to her mother’s great delight – she attended Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., for her undergraduate degree and then the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno. She went on to a general surgery internship at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, N.Y., and an anesthesiology residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Anesthesiology became her calling after she spent time in an operating room, and didn’t want to leave. Anesthesiologists’ careers are spent primarily in the OR. They also dedicate themselves to one patient at a time and provide direct care, rather than writing an order that a nurse or other health care provider will later carry out, Dr. Waid explains, calling the field as much art as science. It is an art Dr. Waid has been performing well for 23 years.

Since completing her residency in 1990, Dr. Waid has gone on to work at Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, N.M., Champlain Valley Medical Anesthesia Services in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and CVPH Medical Center, also in Plattsburgh.

She now joins Gifford to be a little closer to her now grown children, to work in a community hospital and for the outstanding work environment.

“When I started at CVPH it was just a little bigger than Gifford. I wanted to get back to the small community hospital feel,” said Waid, who was also impressed with the friendliness of staff and transparency at her new employer. “Everyone was so helpful. ‘I really want to be here,’” she recalls saying following her interview.

That dream became reality in July when she joined the Surgery Division and team of anesthesiologists working out of Gifford’s three busy operating rooms.

Personable and friendly, a warm Dr. Waid approaches patients with a sense of humor and strives to make each patient as comfortable as possible. She provides a wide array of anesthesia services, but has special interests in pediatrics and sedation.

Dr. Waid is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology as well as by the National Board of Medical Examiners.

A native of Nevada, she now lives in Randolph – just down the street from the hospital. She lives with her husband, James Owens, a college lecturer in computer science who has spent the last three years teaching in Iraq. Together they have three adult children. In her free time, Dr. Waid enjoys music, namely playing the piano, as well as gardening, travel and reading.

Visit www.giffordmed.org to learn more or call the Ambulatory Care Center at Gifford at (802) 728-2475.

Year in Review – Part 3

Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the third quarter excerpt.

JULY

Gifford summer concertsGifford’s first in a summer-long series of concerts in the park is led by Dick Ellis and the South Royalton Band.

Experienced certified nurse-midwife Ellen McAndrew returns to Gifford, expanding midwifery care to the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Nazek Shabayek joins the surgery team. She previously practiced for more than 25 years in Tennessee and Connecticut.

Gifford holds the 1st Annual Randolph Antique and Artisans’ Fair in the park.

A Babysitter’s Training Course in The Family Center teaches youth how to be safe, responsible, and successful babysitters.

With the addition of Gifford nurse practitioner Sheri Brown, the Gifford Health Center at Berlin begins offering family care in addition to midwifery, orthopedics, podiatry, and soon neurology.

AUGUST

Family nurse practitioner Andrea LaRosa joins the Sharon Health Center sports medicine team.

A “Home Alone and Safe” course in The Family Center helps children ages 8-11 be better prepared for home-alone situations.

A one-night CPR class is offered to family and friends of infants and children, with subsequent classes in November and February.

Last Mile RideThe seventh annual Last Mile Ride, held on the third Saturday in August, raises $54,000 for end-of-life and advanced illness care. The ride, which this year also includes a 5K, attracts 225 motorcyclists, 60 runners/walkers, and 20 cyclists.

Free classes are offered and soon a support group starts for the state’s many home caregivers.

Healthier Living Workshops – free six-week classes for the chronically ill – are offered through the year at Gifford. A new workshop focuses on chronic pain.

Chiropractor Dr. Andrea Kannas joins the Sharon Health Center’s sports medicine team.

SEPTEMBER

Certified Diabetes Educator and Registered Dietitian Jennifer Stratton strives to help those on a budget better grapple with eating healthy during a free talk titled “Eating Right When Money’s Tight”. The talk is followed up with visits to the grocery store and local food shelf, where Stratton offers hands-on shopping tips.

The medical center once again ends its fiscal year on budget and having met its state-approved operating margin. It is the 13th consecutive year of fiscal success. This feat is unique to Gifford and representative of its teamwork and commitment to care.

Randolph Man Named Nation’s ‘Outstanding Senior Volunteer’

95-year-old Major Melvin McLaughlin warmly celebrated

Major recognition

From left, Patrice Thabault of Home Instead Senior Care presents 2013 Outstanding Senior Volunteer Major Melvin McLaughlin and Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin with a $5,500 in recognition of McLaughlin to support a charity of his choice, Gifford.

Randolph’s Maj. Melvin McLaughlin has spent more than 40 years selflessly volunteering at his local medical center, Gifford. On Wednesday that volunteerism was recognized – big time.

The 95-year-old retired U.S. Marine, fondly known as “Major,” was named the country’s 2013 Outstanding Senior Volunteer by Home Instead Senior Care.

Home Instead is the world’s largest provider of non-medical, in-home care services for seniors. Last year it launched the Salute to Senior Service Contest to recognize senior volunteerism.

Nominated by the staff at Gifford for his daily visits to the hospital, McLaughlin was named the Vermont winner of the contest last month and on Wednesday at noon at Gifford in Randolph was recognized as the national winner.

“Home Instead wants to encourage a positive outlook on aging,” Vermont franchise owner Patrice Thabault noted in presenting the award. “The Major and other (senior) volunteers are really changing the face of aging in the United States.”

With the recognition came a $5,500 check ($500 as the state winner and $5,000 as the national winner) from Home Instead to Gifford, the charity that McLaughlin chose to recognize with his award.

Major recognition

Representatives of VA Medical Center, from left, Chief of Voluntary Services Karen Campbell and Patient Services Manager Wendy DeCoff, present 2013 national Outstanding Senior Volunteer Major Melvin McLaughlin of Randolph with a Courage of Valor award. The award is for World War II veterans who are VA patients.

The gifts didn’t stop at the national recognition, however.

Hearing about McLaughlin’s honor, VA Medical Center Chief of Voluntary Service Karen Campbell attended Wednesday’s presentation to honor McLaughlin, a long-time VA patient, with its Courage of Valor award.

“They don’t necessarily have the time, but they always have the heart,” Campbell said of volunteers, “and, boy, do you have that.”

Fran Keeler of Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) read a letter of commendation from DAIL Commissioner Susan Wehry. “Your more than 40 years of dedicated service … is appreciated. You’re an inspiration to us,” Wehry wrote.

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent his own letter of congratulations, thanking McLaughlin “for demonstrating such generosity and goodwill over the past four decades.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy sent McLaughlin a flag that had flown over U.S. Capitol.

And Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin unveiled a granite plaque anonymously donated and featuring the words McLaughlin says to each patient, nursing home resident, and staff member he visits at Gifford: “Has anyone today told you that they love you?” McLaughlin then answers, “God does and I do too.”

The plaque of Barre granite now sits in the hospital’s visitors’ entrance as a permanent fixture for all to see.

Major recognition

Major Melvin McLaughlin, the nation’s 2013 Outstanding Senior Volunteer, is surrounded by his three daughters, from left, Sally Truckenbrod of Bethel, Nancy Stevens of Raleigh, N.C., and Audrey Rhoades of Washington, N.H. The daughters surprised him by all attending a July 3 celebration of McLaughlin’s national recognition. It is the first time the family was all together since McLaughlin’s wife’s passing almost four years early to the day. She died on July 4 and was a resident of the Menig Extended Care Facility at Gifford, where McLaughlin still volunteers.

McLaughlin first moved to Randolph in 1967 after retiring from 25 years with the U.S. Marines, serving in World War II, Korea, and the infancy of Vietnam. He built a home and a second for one of his daughters, Sally, and then found himself with free time. He started volunteering at Gifford on Thursdays, delivering the local newspaper to patients.

Later, he took patient meal orders on a clipboard and then several years ago began making general rounds seven days a week, visiting with patients and staff alike, offering his telltale phrase of love, plenty of hugs, a positive attitude, and plenty of gratitude.

Woodin called that gift of love an intangible, but a powerful gift that anyone can afford. The fact that that gift and lesson on experiencing love comes from a tough Marine makes it all the more powerful.

Woodin sought to return the favor by asking the large crowd in attendance at Wednesday award announcement to honor McLaughlin with a warmly and loudly delivered, “We love you, Major.”

“My cup runneth over,” Major said in response, encouraging all in attendance to live each day with only gladness, no shame. “Thank you, Lord, for your blessings. I am a rich man.”

Read much more about McLaughlin on the Salute to Senior Service Web site, www.salutetoseniorservice.com, and look for him in Thursday’s Randolph Fourth of July Parade. He is the grand marshal.