FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Dozens of volunteers were honored on Saturday in a drive-thru ceremony. The VA Central California Health Care System recognized those who put in countless hours of volunteering during 2019. The event was held at the American Legion – Post 509 in Fresno.
The annual VA Voluntary Service Award Recognition event is usually held in the spring with a banquet, but the pandemic forced them to postpone several times.
“We’re not able to do that and we didn’t want to let this go without recognizing the work they do, the contributions they make, and the service of our veterans,” said Mary Golden, Chief of the VA Voluntary Service.
In the drive-thru style service, each volunteer was given a certificate, along with a gift bag with assorted treats, a boxed lunch and peanut brittle.
“It’s different, the world changes and you have to change with it,” said Patrick Balakian from East Fresno Kiwanis.
Balakian says their goal is to help children of veterans experiencing homelessness.
One way they do that is with a shopping spree.
“We don’t really do things to get awards but it’s nice to be recognized for some of the work that we do,” Balakian said.
Golden says the volunteers contribute more than 50,000 hours a year helping veterans.
She says this ceremony is the least they can do under the current circumstances.
“We wanted to make sure we were able to say thank you to everyone and show our appreciation,” Golden said.