BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Nearly 200 veterans throughout the city of Maumee have been recognized for their contributions to the nation by the Maumee Chamber of Commerce.
As a way to honor those who have served in the U.S. military, the chamber collected the names of veterans residing in Maumee and delivered signs along with treats to their homes in the days leading up to Veterans Day.
According to chamber recruitment and engagement director April Sorah, 175 veterans received the goodies.
The chamber will continue to accept names to add to the list for next year, too.
Many who were added to the list in time for this year’s sign delivery said they were happy to have been thought of and included.
“Sometimes it feels like veterans are forgotten about, and I am just glad to see that Maumee is recognizing veterans,” said Navy veteran Stan Zientek.
It’s a common trend among veterans, noted Josh Harris, a Maumee City Council member and real estate agent. Harris is also a veteran, having served in the Navy, and was one of many volunteers who helped deliver signs to veterans.
“I have always made it my priority to be there for a fellow veteran to make sure they know that they are not forgotten,” Harris said.
When he heard about the opportunity to deliver signs through the chamber, he jumped at it, Harris said. It was an opportunity to thank local veterans and hear more of their stories personally.
The idea behind the project was brought to the chamber by member Erica Reid, who wanted to do something in the Maumee area much like she had participated in and seen in other communities.
According to Navy veteran George Uscilowski, it was a welcome surprise to see volunteers show up on his doorstep to deliver treats and the sign, and he was happy to have a chance to chat with members of the community.
“This is just so fantastic, and I really appreciate it,” echoed Marine veteran Tony Cuccaro.
Cuccaro shared many of his memories with Harris, showing off the space in his home he dedicated to his time in the military, recalling the friends he made and the stories he’s collected over the years.
Navy veteran John Colley said he’s not one to usually bring up his time in the military. When he describes his service, he says he “just sailed.”
“I didn’t do anything special. The guys that died, that’s something. The guys that spend their life in the military, I think that’s important. I didn’t do much,” Colley said.
He doesn’t need to be recognized for his service, but the thought behind it was what made it extra special, he added.
Each volunteer walked away from the experience having learned more about the veterans in their community, from the places they worked to the people they met – and lost – to the lessons they learned along the way.
“The most important thing that I took away from this experience was the joy that we brought to my fellow veterans,” Harris said. “To hear their stories and to see the twinkle in their eyes as they reminisced about their time serving. There was a young female veteran so happy when I showed up that she gave me the biggest hug. We really did something wonderful this year and I hope we make this a community tradition.”
Veterans can be included on the list for next year by emailing Sorah at email@example.com with their name, address, phone number and branch of service.