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Veterans enjoy lunch at Massena Elks Lodge


MASSENA - The Massena Elks Lodge hosted a lunch for some American heroes on Wednesday during the club’s annual old fashioned picnic.

During the late morning and early afternoon hours Wednesday, the lodge welcomed many veterans now living at either the Highland Nursing Home or the St. Regis Nursing Home for a barbecue and get together.

Norm Lazore, a member of the Massena Elks Club 1702 Veterans Committee, explained he group has been involved with assisting area veterans for a long time.

“What we do is set up different committees for different functions that we provide. Part of the Elks is veterans’ services; it’s one of our major functions of life. I found out by doing this that the Elks was the first organization ever to sponsor a veteran and so we try to maintain that tradition of servicing our veterans when they come home,” Mr. Lazore said. “We call today an ‘old fashioned picnic,’ he said.

“We’re serving them hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the barbecue, homemade salads. We get fresh fruits and corn on the cob donated by White’s (Farm Market) on South Main Street. He’s been doing that for us for years to help us. So pretty much we invite (the veterans) over, we get to visit with them a little bit and get them outside and everybody seems to enjoy it. Sometimes they get to see some of their old buddies from years gone by,” Mr. Lazore added

The club usually holds the lunch during summer when the corn on the cob is freshest but also invites the veterans in a few other times during the year.

“On Veteran’s Day we open up a turkey dinner to all area vets, all area vets from the surrounding area. Any veteran is welcome to come for a free turkey dinner with all their friends. Throughout the year we send birthday cards to all the vets in the nursing homes to (let them) know that they’re not forgotten,” Mr. Lazore said.

“At Christmas time we do a visitation and we bring them Christmas presents. The ladies of the Elks of today, near Christmas, make cookies so they’ll have cookies back in their room to have with their tea or company or whatever; just to have something home-cooked. So we try to make sure that they’re not forgotten so we take care of them and obviously show them all of the respect to thank them for their service.”

Including the veterans, their caregivers, and various family members and friends accompanying them, the Elks Lodge saw approximately 35 attendees for the event Wednesday. The Elks Club received help from Massena Central High School students, who took time out of their summer to assist with the event.

“Some of our students from Massena Central have taken time out of their summer vacation to help us serve their meals and that kind of stuff. ... Of course the residents sure do like to see young faces again. They’re tired of seeing us old guys,” Mr. Lazore said.

One veteran who enjoyed the lunch was Joe Lavack, who resides in St. Regis Nursing Home. This was Mr. Lavack’s first time attending the old fashioned picnic, but he used to be a member of the Elks Club.

“I used to belong to the Elks years ago when it first opened up. I was with the Elks for probably about two years. I haven’t been here in years, so it’s nice to come back,” Mr. Lavack said.

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