The original focus of the Order of St John in the USA has always been the support of the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group. However, over time many members in the United States expressed a desire not only to give of their means but also to render direct and personal service in furthering the Order's purposes, remembering the example of the medieval knights of St. John who sheltered and cared for the sick and the poor.
To provide those opportunities, the Priory in the USA launched the St John Volunteer Corps in 2013. The Volunteer Corps is a service program officially recognized by the Veterans Administration that enables members of the Order to engage directly in volunteer service activities in Veterans Administration facilities throughout the United States.
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT - FALL 2016: JANE HEATH - SAN FRANCISCO
For the past 4 years, Jane Heath has been volunteering every week at the VA’s Fort Miley veteran hospital bringing joy to dozens of veterans by designing and leading creative recreational therapy projects for the CLC residents, allowing the veterans to participate in all manner of creative projects, whilst also taking the veterans out on day trips and becoming as she says, "like part of the family".
When asked what volunteering means to her Jane answered: "The men and women at the CLC welcome me each week with trusting smiles, they give me so much more than I can ever give them. Each week I reunite with familiar faces and meet new ones. I cannot help but love them all as family. Together we listen to music as we work, I share news of my week.
With me these residents have created art to adorn their communal areas, with they love to proudly point out to visitors. Some projects like the woven place mats they made for Super bowl Sunday only take a week or two, others like the painted birdhouses or the mosaic Golden Gate Bridge picture, are projects they work on over several months, working individually but creating as a team – just as they did throughout their service.
These wonderful artists have become my extended family and so when one is not well enough to participate, I make bedside visits to let them know that they were missed and not forgotten. And when one passes, as happened recently, my heart breaks. My weekly visits to the CLC are about so much more than accumulating volunteer hours, my volunteering is about celebrating the good in this world and being part of man’s love and support for his fellow man. And I am so grateful for the opportunity to give just a little back to those who have given so much."
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT - SUMMER 2016: DAMIAN SERGIU ANTONESCU - WASHINGTON D.C
Photo left: Damian with a veteran : Photo right: Peter Guen from the Johanniter Order and Damian Sergiu Antonescu from The Order Of St John USA
Peter Guen from the Johanniter Order, and Damian Sergiu Antonescu from the Order of St John jointly volunteer at the Washington DC VA Hospital. Their work consists of supporting the Chaplain for Sunday Services.
The volunteer support ranged from preparing facilities, to speaking with and collecting wheelchair bound veterans and bringing them to Sunday church services. In the course of bringing them to church services, both Peter and Damian conversed with and engaged each veteran in conversation. The mutually beneficial actions of both Peter and Damian were not only rewarding for the veterans, but for the volunteers as well. Upon completion of Sunday services for the regular veteran populations, Peter and Damian stayed to support the Chaplain.
While supporting the Chaplain, our Volunteers continued into a closed area to provide support to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, psychiatric issues and other traumas. Peter tirelessly supports various veteran-centered events in the Metro Washington, D.C area and Damian supports weekly Chaplain services at the Washington DC VA Hospital, the latter under the assistance and direction of the St John Volunteer Corps. By working together, our volunteers exemplify the great cooperation between the Alliance Orders of St John.
See more from Damian here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKod_7iPUd4