By Jacob Mahaffey
The mission for Community Hospice to honor life by providing peace, hope, and compassion to the people they serve.
One of the ways they do that is by honoring the veterans in their care. “We have a program here called We Honor Veterans Program,” Norm Mast, President and CEO of Community Hospice, stated. “It’s a group of volunteer veterans who come in and pin some of our veterans, meaning we honor them for their service.”
Even though that practice is immensely special for every veteran they serve, Community Hospice wanted to do more. “We wanted something more than that,” Mast added.
A year and a half ago the idea was born to create that something more. “A group of veterans got together and came up with an idea for a veterans memorial,” Mast said.
Working in conjunction with Mike Pace from Pace Landscaping the idea was to design a memorial garden on the grounds of Community Hospice’s Truman House. One thing the Community Hospice wanted to be sure of was that money for the project was in hand prior to starting. “We raised money from community members,” Mast explained. “Volunteer organizations, veterans, and local VFW’s. We had significant donations from all over the community.”
Over the summer funding was finally achieved. The project itself took a month and a half to complete, opening in late summer.
The garden features a large flagpole that towers out at 25-feet, surrounded by five monoliths with two right next to it. The five outside monoliths are dedicated to the five branches of service; Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy. “They stand about four feet tall,” Mast described. “They are really large monoliths. They talk about the different mottos, courage, integrity, commitment. All things the different branches of service have and then it has their logo.”
One of the two monoliths next to the flagpole stand in remembrance of those families who have lost someone in the military and the other is for POW/MIA.
The garden is open to all who want to visit. “We wanted to have a place for the community and for the families that are here,” Mast said. “It’s a very solemn area.”
The garden has an aura of reverence and respect. Shortly after completion, a group of veterans found themselves overcome with the emotion of the area. “They were reflecting,” Mast reminisced on the moment. “They sat in our pavilion looking out at the memorial. It was a moving thing for them.”
The garden is always open. “It lights up in the evening,” Mast advised. “So, it can be visited day or night.”
However, the Veterans Memorial Garden isn’t just a place to visit. It can also be a beautiful spot for a family to remember a loved one. “If you want to have a small memorial service or something like that on the grounds, you can do that as well,” Mast said.
The main thing Community Hospice wants the community to know is that it is not just for clients of Truman House. “It’s really one of our initiatives to give back to the community,” Mast explained. “We really feel like we have been supported by the community so much over the years. This is our way of giving back.
The Veterans Memorial Garden is located at Community Hospices Truman House, 716 Commercial Ave SW, New Philadelphia. If you have any questions or would like to donate to the garden for upkeep, call 330-343-7605.
This story originally appeared in the October 24, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.