Visit to Fisher House was a blessing

Commentary by Kristian Whitesell
Times-News correspondent

 

FAYETTEVILLE — On Aug. 9, some of my fellow Teens & 20s riters along with Teens & 20s adviser Charity Apple and a couple of moms, took a day trip to Fort Bragg to deliver money and items that we had been collecting for the Fisher House.

The Fisher House is a comfort home that is donated by the military. It provides lodging for families of servicemen and women wounded or while their loved one is receiving medical treatment. 

I visited the Fisher House for the first time last year when I went with the Alamance Republican Women. While there, I met a soldier, Sgt. Matt Leonard, in the Womack Medical Center who had been wounded in Afghanistan.

This was the first time I had ever visited with a wounded soldier before and the experience touched me so greatly that I lost control and had to leave the room.

On this visit with my friends to the Fisher House and Womack Medical Center, the experience was quite different. It was just as touching to me, but in a different way. Teens & 20s, a volunteer writing group for the Times-News, had been working since the beginning of summer collecting items for the Fisher House. See, they rely solely on donations alone and request things like paper products, laundry detergent and food.

Our group put boxes out at the Times-News, A Cut Above Tuxedos, the Burlington Police Department and the Village at Brookwood. Requests for donations were published in the paper and announced on WPCM (920 AM).

Along with the giving hearts of the people in Alamance County, we were able to donate a van full of items.

Kaitlin Gillespie, one of our writers and one of my dearest friends, organized and executed a bake sale at the Village at Brookwood and raised more than 400 dollars which we presented to the Fisher House upon our arrival.

At the Fisher House, I was surprised to see Leonard — after he was released from the hospital, he lived there for seven months. Paula Gallero, the director of the house, needed an assistant and offered the job to Leonard; he accepted. He now lives on base at Fort Bragg and travels to the Fisher House to help every day. I am pleased to say that his condition is much better than in December 2010, when I first met him. He was even kind enough to take my group and me over to the Womack Medical Center to visit with some of the soldiers.

One in particular on that day touched my friends and me — his name was Danny; thin and pale, the doctors told us that he was not eating. We gave him some homemade cookies and a soda and as we left the room, we saw him eyeing the goodies.

On an ending note, I’d like to thank everyone who had anything to do with this project personally. If you donated items or money, offered support or helped spread the word, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And to my fellow Teens & 20s writers — the compassion and giving hearts that you all possess amaze me. I am blessed to know and be friends with so many giving individuals.

 

Kristian Whitesell is a Burlington resident and a Teens & 20s writer.

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