Giving Back: Love travels many miles at Veterans Home

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015

RESERVE — Gerry Rogers makes a two-hour round-trip drive a few days each week to bring a smile to her husband’s face and the faces of all the residents at the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home.

Rogers drives from White Castle to Reserve to visit her husband, John, who has been at the Veterans Home for more than four years.

“Gerry is a kind-hearted, full-of-energy person, who is willing to help anyone at any moment,” said Sonya Hebert, recreational therapist at the War Veterans Home. “She thrives on helping these Veterans. Anytime we are kind of slow, she always asks us how can she help. She talks to the Veterans and tries to make them feel special.

“She is goes shopping for the Veterans. She is just out there and willing to do anything to make their lives more enjoyable.”

Hebert said everyone, residents and staff, enjoys Rogers’ energy and willingness to help.

“(The residents) won’t hesitate to ask her to help with things because they know she will be there 100 percent,” Hebert said. “The staff loves Mrs. Gerry. They see her 100-percent commitment to her husband and the Veterans and they admire her for that.”

Rogers said she enjoys coming to the Veterans Home every other day to visit her husband of 52 years and help with other residents.

Her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 11 years ago.

“I come every other day and he is my first priority when I get here,” she said. “I make sure he is dressed the way I want him to be dressed and clean. The employees here are really good with him.”

Even though her husband suffers from Alzheimer’s, Rogers says he smiles in the mornings when he sees her.

“He does still know me, and I’m happy with that,” she said. “I really enjoy coming out here. I love it when he smiles at me; it’s really a good feeling that he still does recognize me. That’s why I come so often, I don’t want him to forget me. There are a few days when I can’t come out because I have to take care of things around the house, like making sure the grass gets cut and a few other things. But I love coming here. I love to help people, it’s a joy for me.”

Rogers helps with a number of different activities at the War Veterans Home.

“I feel that a act of kindness goes a long ways for these people,” she said. “They’ll ask me to go and get them a pack of gum sometimes. I’ll go down the road to the Dollar Store and get gum and that makes them happy, they’re just so excited.”

Rogers greets everyone in the mornings with a smile and a greeting, adding one of the first things she asks is if anyone wants coffee. Rogers also takes one of the residents to church in the mornings so he can sing.

“It means a lot to see them smile,” she said. “They appreciate it, they really do. We did well with the hardware store my husband and I owned, now I feel like it’s time to give back.”

Rogers said a lot of the Veterans at the Home don’t have family visiting them and she makes it a point to talk to them, ask where they’re from and make sure they are enjoying their time at the home.

“Volunteering is a lot of fun and I really love it,” Rogers said. “I feel like I’m giving back. I don’t expect payment; I just want to do it because I love it. I feel that I need to give back and help the older people, the ones in need.”

— By Raquel Derganz Baker