Marines volunteer as Valentine dates for elderly

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing & Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
Story by Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom

Date: 02.10.2011
Posted: 02.18.2011 13:15
News ID: 65693
Marines volunteer as Valentine dates for elderly

CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Romantic melodies drifted to the dance floor as Marines and sailors from Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 and 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion danced with elderly residents of Cherry Point Bay Nursing and Rehab Center during its 10th annual Valentine’s Day dance Feb. 11.

Residents of the facility picked their date for the evening from more than 30 Marines.

“The turn out here is phenomenal,” said Cpl. Justin L. Daniels, a motor transport operator with MWSS-274. “I have done a lot of volunteer work with this home, and I have never seen such a great turn out of Marines and Sailors who came.”

After the residents picked their date the couples went into the dinning room and began to converse while waiting for their meals to be served.

“The Marines are a blessing to these residents,” said Lindsey A. Grazioso, an event coordinator and the medical records keeper for the home. “It is a great honor to have all them here to help make this night special for the residents. You can tell how great it makes the residents feel by the smiles that come across their faces.”

After dinner the residents and their dates made their way to the dance room for photos and dancing.

“We do photos because there are some residents who enjoyed their dates and would like a photo for their rooms,” said Grazioso. “The photos are a great way for the residents to hang onto the memory of their fun night and the visitors who came just for them.”

Grazioso said some of the residents don’t get visitors as often as the others, and the Valentine’s event gives them a chance and opportunity to meet new people.

“I hope the residents here have fun tonight that is my biggest wish for this event,” said Sgt. Antwan L. Jackson, a motor transport operator with MWSS-274. “I hope two things are taken away from this, that the Marines learn the importance of volunteering and the residences have a great time.”

Jackson said he feels volunteering is especially important for the Marines, so they can pay their dues and respects to those who have served in the military and who support them in the job that help keeps their country safe and free.

“We are these peoples' future,” said Jackson. “To them we are the future and I personally would like to know that in the future there are going to be motivated individuals that take a Friday night off and come visit me if I’m at a home.”

Daniels said from talking to residents and hearing their life experiences, he has learned a lot about how they grew up and how they are living now.

“You can learn a lot about history and about a person when you’re sitting down talking to them,” said Daniels. “There are many former military members here. All the residents are different and enjoy different things, but the one thing that they all enjoy is the company of another.”