Words both celebratory and somber filtered through the public address system Sunday inside the Rev. Peter G. Mihailides Center on Cranston.
They were all part of a heartwarming “thank you” acceptance speech from Albin J. Joiner, a peer support specialist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who works out of the VA Medical Center’s campus in Providence.
Joiner, you see, came to the Church of the Annunciation with Dr. William Carr from the VA, which Sunday received 25 rubberized barrels that were over-flowing with items like brooms, dust pans, and laundry detergent.
After Carr said “thank you” to the Greek Orthodox parish’s Ladies Philoptochos Society for “this extraordinary donation,” Joiner took center stage and delivered a powerful and informative speech on what homeless veterans suffer through after serving their country in combat and returning to civilian life.
Joiner told how he served in combat with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1971-72 in Phnom Penh, and upon his discharge found himself homeless.
Now, his main mission is to prevent other men and women from going through a similar ordeal.
“What you people have done her today is incredible,” Joiner said of the Cranston parish’s participation in the Housewarming Baskets for Homeless Veterans program. “All these items are on the wish list of homeless veterans and they’re all of high priority. I can’t tell you how important they will be for our men and women who have served our country.”
Marianne Phelan, who coordinated the initiative for the Ladies Philoptochos Society, offered: “We are proud to join Operation Housewarming. This is a continuation of our outreach that is, and always has been, our group’s mission. It is important for everyone to provide help for those veterans who are transitioning into independent living.”
However, the Cranston-based Ladies Philoptochos Society isn’t the only chapter participating in “Operation Housewarming.”
“The entire Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston is undertaking this mission to assist those homeless veterans,” said Georgia Pappas, president of the Ladies Philoptochos Society.
“All of our chapters have taken on this program under the guidance and counseling of His Eminence Metropolitan Metheodis of Boston.”
For the Cranston chapter’s donation, 25 different members donated $100 for each barrel and its contents, and did so in many cases in memory of loved ones who also served in various branches of the armed forces.
“Supporting this important cause for those who have served our nation in defense of liberty and justice is so very valuable as our parish’s expression of appreciation to all those who serve in the armed forces,” said the Rev. Andrew George, the Annunciation Church’s pastor. “God Bless all our donors of these items and our Ladies Philoptochos organization for leading the way.”