Veterans, community fill a void
American Legion Post 16 steps in to holiday serve meals to senior citizens
With volunteer cooks preparing the annual Thanksgiving meal, American Legion Post 16 member and U.S. Air Force veteran Lance McNeil began to organize the help in the hall.
Every year, both veterans and community members assemble before 9 a.m., line up to fill scores of Styrofoam containers with turkey, mashed potatoes and all the stuffing to deliver to Churchill County’s senior citizens.
“We have about 146 meals today,” McNeil said, checking a list. “Every year, the number of meals increases.”
McNeil has organized the program for a decade, but overall, he has been involved with the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and deliveries for 31 years.
Every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas, Post 16 steps in to help the William N. Pennington Life Center with its Meals on Wheels program so the everyday drivers and cooks can spend time with their families. Once the containers are filled with food and placed in a section of the hall, McNeil hands out addresses to the volunteers for delivery.
Later in the morning, he said the post opens its doors to feed anyone in the community who needs a meal.
Dave Santos and his family have volunteered for 11 years, but he wasn’t sure if the local American Legion program was sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic guidelines.
“We came in a week ago to make sure they were doing it,” he said.” With everything else being canceled, we were afraid of this falling off and concerned folks would not be getting their meals.”
To his relief, the program was moving forward.
Santos’ daughter, Nikki Reeves, moved back to Fallon after being away for 10 years. She and her husband are employed in the medical field, but this family tradition is something Reeves has missed.
“This is really important,” she said. “It’s one of those things I look forward to by coming back.”
Reeves said returning to the American Legion hall and Fallon was like time had stood still for her, but she noted many changes have occurred in the city.
A02 Tyler Nicolet, his wife Jocelyn and their 1-year-old daughter said the Thanksgiving meals program is one way they give back to Fallon. Tyler Nicolet said they have a neighbor who receives meals, so they wanted to help.
Since they relocated to Fallon two years ago, the Nicolets have also been involved with the Greenwave Quarterback Club and the Churchill Animal Protection Society.
Kat Richard and her daughter, Katherine, have been volunteering for at least a decade. Now 15, Katherine remembers when she was 5 years old helping her mother prepare the meals. Both Kat and Katherine said they enjoy helping others, and if anyone needs help, they’ll be there.
Now a freshman at Churchill County High School, Katherine said her friends will occasionally volunteer.
“We appreciate any help we can get,” she said.
Traveling from Modesto, Calif., to Fallon has been an annual event to see family, said Tina Glushenko. This year, she brought her niece, 10-year-old Jordiin Brazil, who attends Nancy Gomes Elementary School in Reno. Her grandfather was helping in the kitchen.
“I’ve been coming here about four or five years,” Glushenko said. “I like to give back.”
Because some elderly residents may be sick, Glushenko said delivering meals is the right thing to do.
Jordiin said she has enjoys volunteering and has helped her fellow students with directions or assisted the office of her teacher.
A02 Davon Grant and his son, both Pittsburgh Steelers fans, are volunteering for the first time.
“We love to help the seniors,” Grant said. “I want my son to know giving is more important than receiving.”