NSDAR JUNIOR SPOTLIGHT:
Our gifted Melanie Richardson is waiting
for approval for 13 additional Patriots
University of Florida honor graduate and talented Carnegie Hall piano artist, Melanie Richardson joined the Commodore John Barry Chapter of NSDAR in May of 2019 as a descendant of Ezra Starr. She has since submitted 13 supplementals and is awaiting DAR approval. These additional Revolutionarty War ancestors are: Daniel Starr, David Gould, William Williams, Abel Marsch, Robert Bramble, Ebenezer Minor, Dr. Titus Hull, Dr. William Plunkett, Capt. George Codwise, Hartman Van Deusen, Johannes Van Deusen, James Claghorn, and John Scott. This will bring her to a total of 14 Patriots. Her mother, Linda, is also a Daughter.
When Melanie became a member of CJB Chapter in May of 2019, she was still a senior at University of Florida working on her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering and Bachelor of Music degree with a Certificate in Piano Performance. Stephanie mentioned her wish for a DAR sash for her graduation gown. CJB Registrar, Bonnie Zimmer, found that these did not exist so she had one designed and made for her. Melanie proudly wears it in the above photo. Congratulations Melanie.
FSSDAR State Conference 2020
February Meeting Highlights
1st Regent Joy Wagner reports working
with the Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express.
I had the privilege of working with the Patriot Guard Riders volunteering for The Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express by sewing patches on leather vests for the children of fallen soldiers. We were located in the Convention Center at the Coronado Springs Hotel near Walt Disney World. The PGR and Gary Sinise Foundation Volunteers had a “command center”, infirmary/First Aid Center and a Flag Garden with American Flags with the fallen Soldier’s names on them. The Flag Garden was a somber yet beautifully done to commemorate our lost soldiers. The families were given little notebooks so they could leave notes for their loved ones. It was difficult to walk though without fighting back tears.
When the families came to the PGR Volunteer center, the children are fitted with leather vests donated by the Patriot Guard Riders then the children were given the opportunity to pick about 5 patches that also have been donated by the PGR, to be sewn on their new PGR vests. The patches were anything from Military branches, ranks, specialties and insignias and Patriot Guard Riders patches, to random super hero or flower/butterfly/puppy/kitten patches. Along with the five patches they pick, they receive an embroidered patch with their name and a “Gary Sinise Foundation” patch. PLUS a Snowball Express pin with the year.
Since some of the children have been participating in the Snowball Express for several years, and they already have several patches on an existing vest so we, as the sewing crew, added the patches to their vest. If the child has outgrown their vest, one of the volunteers gently removes the original patches from the outgrown vest and those old patches are sewn on to the new vest along with the new patches they picked for this year. Combining old patches with new one, some vests had 20+ patches to be sewn on the new vests!! Thankfully, the one doing the sewing picked where the patches went on the vest however, the child’s name and the Gary Sinise Foundation patch and a specific location designated. We had some wonderful veterans from PGR help guide us which direction insignias or ranks went and they also made recommendations where some of the military patches should go. When the vests were complete, one of the volunteers called the parent or guardian of the child to let them know it was done. We made sure to do sibling vests together so they were complete at the same time.
This year, there were over 600 vests!! There were 20 sewing machines going pretty much at all times! We were sewing the patches on while the families were visiting the Parks. The PGR were a wonderful team! Those who didn’t sew helped those manning the machines by getting us water, snacks, bobbins filled with thread when we ran out or searched for thread the right color to match the patch.
Occasionally, we did get to see the children receive their vests. Seeing the looks on their faces was priceless and often lead to tears from the kids, the mom and the Patriot Guard Riders alike! Those vests mean so much to the children.
The last day of sewing, Gary Sinise himself stopped by to thank the Patriot Guard Riders for everything they do for The Gary Sinise Foundation and Snowball Express. He got choked up telling us how much he appreciated everything and how there weren’t enough “thank yous” in the world to tell how grateful he was.
I wore my red DAR shirt the first day of sewing. I was stopped in the hallway of the Convention Center by a man who asked “Daughters…..?????” So I completed… “of the American Revolution. ” He said, “oh yes, your group does wonderful things for the veterans.” I agreed and told him about our wonderful Veteran’s Center in Merritt Island, Brevard Co. I told him I was there with the Patriot Guard Riders helping sew the patches on the vests. He thanked me for volunteering and we went our separate ways. It ended up he was Robin Rand CEO of the Gary Sinise Foundation. He was wearing a Gary Sinise Foundation Volunteer T-shirt just like everyone else.
It was a wonderful experience and met some wonderful people not only from the Patriot Guard Riders and the Gary Sinise Foundation but DAR’s from various chapters across the state. Of course I can’t remember the chapter names but several were from Fleming Island, a couple were from the west coast of Florida and a couple of DAR were from Fort Worth, TX. I plan on returning next year to sew again even though as an RN, the infirmary team was trying to recruit me to joining them next year!