Each year, Jane Saddler and numerous volunteers throughout the community dedicate a day to celebrate those who have served through an annual picnic.
Open to all veterans in nursing homes, the picnic will take place at the Shawnee Boat Club on June 21.
“My husband Jim started this program many years ago,” explained Jane Saddler. “It started with a Christmas program 27 years ago. After a few years of the Christmas program he thought ‘well I think it’d be nice to have a picnic for these guys in the nursing homes,’ so that’s what we did.”
The event began at the American Legion in the back shelter house, but the event quickly outgrew the space.
“Jim and I were members of the Shawnee Boat Club and he got to talking to some of the other members and he said ‘I think these guys would really enjoy coming down here by the river and looking out at the water and the boats passing by,’ that’s how we got started there. We just wanted to get them out of the nursing home and give them a nice summer day to relax.”
After Jim’s passing almost two years ago, Jane and her children took over and kept the event going, with the help of many friends, to honor his legacy.
This year, food will be served at noon and the menu features classic cookout favorites like hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans and potato salad.
“The Raven Rock hillbillies will be cooking up soup beans in a big cast iron pot over an open pot and they’ll also be making fried cornbread,” said Saddler.
Typically, between 30 and 40 veterans from over 20 nursing homes in Scioto County, Pike County and South Shore, Kentucky.
“The veterans and their caregivers really enjoy themselves and seem to have a good time every year,” said Saddler. “Not only do they have a good time, but our volunteers do as well. It’s nice to be able to give back to them.”
Saddler also emphasized that the group does their best to make the veterans as comfortable as possible during their visit.
“We have big fans to keep them out of the heat, there are tents set up and lots of shade. We have handicap restrooms and golf carts to shuttle people down from the parking lot,” Saddler explained. “We have a great group of volunteers that always come to help us out. We have so many people from so many different organizations and we’re very grateful for their help and support.”
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.