Submitted photos and press release:
Medal of Honor recipient David G. Bellavia appeared at the NYS Veterans Home on Thursday, Oct. 10, as part of a wish-granting experience created by the local nonprofit, Senior Wishes.
Bellavia, an Army Staff Sergeant and the first living Iraq War Veteran to receive a U.S. Medal of Honor, spoke to residents, staff and guests, including members of the Combat Vets Association.
His speech was followed by a reception organized by Senior Wishes which included refreshments, and the opportunity for guests to meet with Bellavia, who graciously shared his Medal of Honor, posed for pictures and signed copies of his book.
The event was planned as part of an introduction of Senior Wishes to the Batavia community, as the program has just expanded from Erie and Niagara counties to also serve residents of Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties.
Established in 2013 by the United Church Home Society (UCHS), Senior Wishes’ mission is to honor and recognize the lifelong contributions of our oldest citizens by granting meaningful wishes that will enhance seniors’ lives.
According to Wendy Miller Backman, Senior Wishes executive director, “Senior Wishes was created to recognize that our aging seniors still have things they want to do, places they want to go, or people they want to see. We transform those dreams into a reality.”
The program has granted more than 250 wishes in Erie and Niagara counties, and strives to grant more wishes to seniors by expanding into more counties.
Wish requests may be big or small. Previous wishes have included air travel to visit long-missed family, cheering on a favorite team in person, and revisiting an abandoned hobby.
Wish recipients must be 65+ and a resident of Western New York with an annual income under $38,000 for a household of one or under $44,000 for a household of two. Permanent residents of care facilities are exempt from the income qualification. Vacations, medical items, household repairs, bill payments and travel outside of the continental United States are excluded.
To learn how to apply for a wish, visit www.seniorwishes.org or call Wendy at 716-508-2121.