On Monday, January 18, 2010, a tour bus full of students and
faculty from Saint Leo University had the honor of visiting with
Veterans at the James Haley Community Veterans Center in Tampa, FL
for Martin Luther King Day. Antonette Lyken, a senior honors
student, coordinated the event with many students, faculty, and
staff from the Honors Program, Business and Tourism, Religion and
others. The afternoon began with sharing of ice cream treats and
stories. Many students and faculty found they shared common bonds
with the veterans such as hometowns and relatives who have attended
the University in past years. While a charming veteran who goes by
“Moses” and Jacci White, Professor of Mathematics and Assistant
Director of Honors, joined several others on the outdoor porch to
enjoy the weather, Grant Posner , Jonathan Posner, and Brittany
Rathbone, Saint Leo University honors students, were losing at
poker to a Veteran who is also a retired Georgia State Trooper.
Checkers and connect 4 were popular game choices shared by the
groups through the day.
A small group of faculty, staff, and students were able to visit
veterans in their rooms through the afternoon. Memories were made
and plans to return were set up. One of the ladies from Saint Leo
looked forward to her visit the following weekend when she returned
with hotdogs at the request of a veteran she had met. Father
Stephan Brown, Assistant to the President for University Ministry,
had the opportunity to converse with many of the residents
throughout the facility.
A highlight of the afternoon was a game of bingo. The room was
overflowing as students and veterans shared their Bingo cards in an
attempt to win one of the many prizes. Mike Gincel kept everyone
entertained with his lively antics as he ran the game. Stan
McGahey, a professor of Sport Business and Tourism, reminisced with
veterans entering the meeting room while the game was in progress.
Space was hard to come by as everyone poured in for their chance to
join the game.
The hospitality and welcome shared by the veterans was greatly
appreciated. Fun was had by all and Saint Leo University students
plan to visit again soon. It is hoped that a visit might be set up
much earlier in the school year next time, maybe even before
classes begin in the fall.