Yes, this was our last luncheon at Mercy Hall. We’ll move over to Sanctuary Hall in August for the next Thursday luncheon.
Special THANKS to Graul’s Market in St, Michaels, MD for their donation of the assorted rolls, potato salad, fruit salad, cookies, and apple pie!
Bayside Quilters of Easton, MD supplied the quilts. They’ve been sending LOVE to the troops at the hospital and Mercy Hall since 2009. Thank you, Quilters!
The “Two If By Tea” tea was donated by an anonymous “Elf”. Thank you!
Katie and Guy, you are always such a pleasure to work with! Job well done! Thank you for your time and dedication to the guys and gals we serve at Mercy Hall!
We met some new people, their first time at one of our luncheons. There are very few places on base to eat and there’s no commissary on base, so even though they have microwaves in their rooms, the luncheons are always a HUGE morale booster for the Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen we serve. It was nice meeting them and always a joy to see our old friends and catch up with them.
Now… about that macaroni and cheese… We’ve been working (sorta-kinda) on a cookbook of “tried and true” recipes from the luncheons over the years and should be rolling with it probably toward the end of July, beginning of August. More details to come…
And about the move over to Sanctuary Hall – before we left the base we drove by the building. It’s huge. We’re pretty sure we’ll be serving wounded, injured, and ill out-patients as well as single, enlisted service members (all service branches) stationed at Walter Reed when we do the switch-over. We’re anticipating serving double, maybe triple (maybe more?) the number of people we’ve been serving the past few years at Mercy Hall. We’ll see how it goes.
And who knows what will happen with the situation currently going on in Iraq? First it starts with “no boots on the ground”, then “300 advisors” and a ship with 500 Marines sitting off the coast… And the draw-down in Afghanistan going on… after 5 Taliban honchos have been released from Gitmo… Maybe this is what we need to do…………
Mmm hmmm… How long have we been talking about this, Ladies, 10 years or more?
The Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen answered their country’s call and served their time over there with honor following the orders they were given. We’re proud of each and every one of you.
If you think what we do is a worthy cause, please consider buying a raffle ticket or two. We are 100% volunteer, and 100% of the proceeds from our annual quilt raffle fundraiser directly benefit those we serve through our luncheons. Administrative costs, and often times food, are out of pocket expenses for our volunteers. Final postmark is August 1st, tickets are $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00. For details, please click on the picture. Thank you for your consideration.
Until next time, thoughts and prayers for our military and their families.
Barb and I rode over together to Mercy Hall. It was nice having someone to talk with during the hour and half drive to Walter Reed. She’s good company.
Thursday DC Beltway traffic is a little heavier than the Sundays we go over and this Thursday was no different. It was comforting to see the steeples, we knew we were almost there.
We arrived and unloaded, the Sailors set up the tables for us, then I went to park while Barb began pulling everything out and arranging the food.
Did you know parking at Walter Reed during the week is the pits? Yeah, it is. She was almost finished by the time I got back.
The luncheons make the drive and the parking worth it though. The guys and gals enjoy them and are so appreciative of the meal. Lots of new faces this month. December was the last time we were there and we saw a few guys who had been to that luncheon.
We had to cancel February’s Mercy Hall luncheon, the first time this has happened in our many years of going there. This was a winter we’ll be talking about for a long time… until the next one anyway. We aren’t used to a lot of snow in this neck of the woods.
appetizer, buffalo wings with ranch and blue cheese sauce, meatballs in spaghetti sauce, rolls, green beans, potato salad, dessert and assorted drinks.
Oh, the Easter Bunny dropped off some carrots. And yes, those are Red Velvet Cookies.
One of the Dads said it did his heart good to see us Marine Moms. He’s a Marine Veteran who was there with his Navy daughter. (We told him one of us is a Marine Mom and the other is a Navy Mom.)
We saw a few patients with musical instruments, had not seen that before. The NICoE next door has music therapy.
We may have one more luncheon at Mercy Hall before the move over to Sanctuary Hall. When that happens we expect to be serving double, maybe triple, the number we’re serving now. But hey, we’ve got the logistics down pat! And we love a challenge! And we love who we serve!
Thanks so much for your help, Barb, and for sharing your pictures! It was an excellent luncheon!
Thank you to our supporters. I wish you could see the look on their faces when they come into the lobby and see the buffet. Most of them don’t know we’ll be there.
“This is for us??? Thank You!”
And we say, “No, thank YOU!”
One day, most likely, the men and women we serve at Mercy Hall will be transitioned into the Dept. of Veteran Affairs health care system.
When I heard about this, dated April 10, 2014, it made my blood boil…
“Deaths at Phoenix VA hospital may be tied to delayed care”
How someone can do this and keep a clear conscious – keep secret lists, when they are supposed to be serving Veterans who have willingly served our country, with all of the money that’s been poured into the VA in recent years, hiring thousands of extra help, supposedly making progress in the long wait times for appointments – is beyond my comprehension.
How do they sleep at night?
Until next time, continued prayers for our military and their families.
It’s hard to believe this will be the seventh year we’ve brought “Holiday Cheer” to Walter Reed/Bethesda! It’s actually the eighth holiday event if we count when Janelle, Brenda, and I were there in November 2005. 3/1 Marines we or our sons knew were patients on the overflowing combat surgical ward after being wounded in combat.
December 5, “Holiday Cheer at Mercy Hall 2013” Luncheon
A Holiday Meal, Stockings, Cards, and Cookies, with “Elfs” providing support from all over the country made for a Very Merry Day at Mercy Hall!
Gladys and Bob, always early, were there and unloaded when Guy and I arrived around 10:15, with Katie right behind us bringing in adorable gingerbread houses from the Calvert County Hospice’s Festival of Trees Gingerbread House contest. Ace and the Sailors set up the two buffet tables and Jaime from “Touch of Relief” arrived shortly after to offer free seated massages to our guests. We missed having Jess with us. She’s being kept busy by “The Littlest Elf”, her darlin’ new Wee One. Jess sent the stockings with Bob she and her “Elfs” put together, made possible by individual sponsors and local organizations.
We covered the tables and started the chafing dishes, then began setting out the food and “niftie-gifties”.
The “Holiday Cheer” luncheon was quieter this year than in past years. The number of troops at the barracks is lower than they have been. Marines and Soldiers we’ve met over the past year or two have recently been medically discharged, and the ones still living there are kept busier than they used to be just a few years ago.
Stockings, cards, and other items left at the end of the day were taken by Katie, Bob and Guy to 7 East (the Traumatic Brain Injury Ward in the hospital) and the Marine Liaison Office for distribution.
A little bit about Mercy Hall:
Individual living quarters in this small out-patient barracks are equipped with a small fridge and microwave in a dorm-like room with a kitchenette. Pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates, cups, and silverware are the responsibility of the residents living there. We recently learned those basic items are no longer provided for them. That ended after the building was remodeled in 2011 due to budgetary restraints.
There is no cafeteria in Mercy Hall. McDonald’s and a gas station, kind of like a “Quick Stop Shop”, are a short walk away – downhill. To get to the hospital cafeteria is quite a walk, and the Warrior Cafe in Building 62 is even farther away – uphill. There is no commissary on base. Unless they’re able or inclined to cook for themselves, choices for food and meals are limited for these mostly young, single, men and women living on their own. Many have told us they don’t like going over to the Warrior Cafe (it’s too busy for them) and after a long tiring day, they don’t want to walk to the cafeteria.
Physical therapy and other things the out-patients have on their daily schedules are also quite a walk away from where Mercy Hall is located. Our bi-monthly Thursday luncheons are “drop in and have lunch with us” on a “catch as catch” can basis. Bethesda Naval Hospital and the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center combined in September 2011 and most events for the out-patients are now held in Building 62, on the other side of the hospital. We are one of very few groups still doing events at Mercy Hall.
One of the 19 year old residents of Mercy Hall said to us,
We love your luncheons! You make it feel like HOME!”
As we were leaving, we told one of the Sailors we met six months ago we’d be back in February. He said,
“I wish you’d come back in January.”
We asked him, “Why? Are you leaving before February?”
No, I just like it when you come. Your food is so good and it beats the Ramen noodles I have back in my room.”
After the chafing dishes start simmering, when you open the door and walk into the lobby the scent of the food reminds you of “Mom’s kitchen” at home on a Sunday afternoon.
Our luncheons are really appreciated by the guys and gals living at Mercy Hall, and we are very grateful for our Supporters and Volunteers who make them possible.
Below is a list of this year’s Holiday Cheer “Elfs”. Thank you, sincerely, for making the day extra special for the Marines, Sailors and Soldiers we served!
The Holiday Cheer Menu:
Cheese Spread and CrackersRoasted TurkeyBaked HamMashed Potatoes and GravyCornbread StuffingAssorted RollsGreen BeansSweet Potato CasserolePasta SaladFresh FruitShortbread, Sugar, and Chocolate Chip CookiesAssorted drinks, including six varieties of Two If By Tea®
Imagine our surprise when 8 cases (96 bottles) of tea arrived by Fed Ex from an anonymous donor!
Many Thanks to the “Elfs” for helping to spread “Holiday Cheer at Mercy Hall” this year!
Stocking Thank You’s!
25 stockings for the Mercy Hall luncheon!
Bayside Quilters of the Eastern Shore made the stockings.
“Just An Elf” from somewhere sent 8 cases (96 bottles) of assorted flavors ofTwo If By Tea®for our “Semper Fi Guys”. [Double-duty – Warriors enjoyed a delicious drink, while proceeds from our donor’s purchase supported Two If By Tea®’s sponsorship of the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation (MC-LEF), which provides assistance to the children of United States Marines and federal law enforcement personnel who were killed on duty or died under extraordinary circumstances while serving our country.]
And yes, we taste tested the tea to make sure it passed inspection for our Marines, Sailors and Soldiers.
This Marine Mom gives it a “Thumb’s UP!” (Especially the Raspberry flavor.)
But more importantly, the guys and gals liked it.
The Luncheon Crew! Thank you, for both your time and your donations of food!
Katie, Gladys, Bob, Guy, and Jane, and Jaime from “Touch of Relief” provided free seated massages.
This was our last “Holiday Cheer” event in Building 50.
The old barracks is closing in 2014 and being replaced by “Sanctuary Hall”, an outpatient barracks twice the size of Mercy Hallwhich according to this article, will be serving combat-wounded Warriors and their caregivers in the last stage of rehabilitation as they learn to live on their own before they are medically discharged.
We’ll follow along with them! Our six Thursday luncheon dates for 2014 have been approved!
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May your Holidays be the best ever, and… please keep our military, far from home, whether they be deployed, or across the country from their families, or in a military or VA hospital, and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
Special thoughts for our Gold Star Families, whose loved ones have paid the ultimate price in service to our country.
Mercy Hall is a small transitional barracks for out-patients with the ability to live on their own, and is also for wounded Warriors on medical hold (med-hold for short) waiting for their discharge from the military. In most cases the residents of Mercy Hall do not have family members staying with them. We have seen a lot of changes at Mercy Hall over the past four years. The barracks used to house mostly Marines and a handful of Sailors, maybe a Soldier or two.
Since the transition of Walter Reed over to Bethesda the service branches living there are more diverse. We are now serving about a third the number we used to serve at Mercy Hall. The residents are on internships, have classes either on base or at a college off base, have doctors’ appointments, field trips… they are kept very busy! And this is a good thing. It gets them out of their rooms and in some cases like with the internships, takes them out into the civilian world preparing them for jobs and for the day they are discharged.
This month’s Mercy Hall luncheon was extra special (but then they ALL are!)
It began with a trip to the post office on Wednesday, the day before the luncheon, and finding a package pick up notice that had to be signed for. Now if you follow Marine Moms-Bethesda on Facebook, you will know every once in a while I post a YouTube link to The Warrior Song – HARD CORPS. Why? Just because I LIKE it!
Guess who the box was from?
Inside of the box was a note:
Dear Marine Moms, This bundle of CDs was purchased by an anonymous admirer in the hopes that you would pass them out to lift the spirits of the veterans you are helping. With our best regards, The Warrior Song Project
Wow………… not only were CDs in the box, but DVDs and t-shirts!
A little about a few of the Marines who received the generous gifts:
One has been a resident of Mercy Hall for two years, told us he has finally finished all of his surgeries and just recently received his med hold paperwork.
Another we met in December 2011 at Richmond VA Medical Center when he was in a wheelchair; again in February at Mercy Hall still in a wheelchair not knowing if he could keep his leg; again in April and he was walking with a cane ON his own two feet! On Thursday he was walking unaided, completely on his own!
A third Marine has been there at least 6 months and asked for a second t-shirt for his older brother who is a Marine now out of the Corps, so we gave him one to pass on. (How can a Marine Mom say “no” to one of our Semper Fi Guys? She can’t! And we didn’t think the donor would mind us doing this.)
Following the recovery of these and other Marines has been extremely humbling. The opportunity to serve lunch to them at Mercy Hall every other month is a true honor, and a privilege we Moms do not take lightly.
The menu was pickles, meat lasagna, veggie lasagna, chicken salad sandwiches, cucumber salad, tossed salad, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and apricots, assorted rolls and bread, pretzel/Rollo/pecan thingies, blueberry cobbler, and assorted drinks. The meat lasagna, chicken sandwiches, pretzel thingies, and cobbler were the hits of the day! Several of the Marines stocked up with the lasagna for later. Most of the veggie lasagna went “home” with a woman Sailor. Other leftovers were left in the fridge and if not perishable, on the table for the residents.
Katie went over to the hospital ward to invite families over and I held the fort down. She makes the luncheons look easy.
Some ARMY STRONG Soldiers joined us, both men and women, as did two Corpsmen, all of them injured in the war. Love ‘em all!
I asked one of the Soldiers what he liked and he said, just like all of the guys do, “I’ll eat anything!” “No, what do you really like? What do you eat when you go home on leave?”
“Steak!” (Just like all of the guys say!)
“Oh, and I like sweet potato pie.”
I promised him we would bring him a sweet potato pie when we are back in August, and if we don’t see him, we’ll put his name on it for when he gets back later that day. Steaks, however, would be a stretch for our budget…
The t-shirts and CDs were awesome and a great morale booster. Thank You to whomever sent them, and to the Warrior Song Project for being the intermediary for this random act of kindness.
And if anyone is wondering, one “Elf” did come to mind and when I asked him if he had anything to do with it he said,
“I have absolutely no idea who might have done such a thing… Besides, even if I did… wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me.”
Gotta love our “Elfs”! =)
We are very grateful for our military, and grateful for those who help us support those who have given so much to our country defending our freedoms.
Thank you to the staff at Mercy Hall for their help getting the word out about our luncheons and for helping us unloading and loading the cars. Katie, thank you for your help making the luncheon a success! You all are great!
Our annual quilt raffle is going on. The drawing for “Stars and Bars Forever”, donated by Bayside Quilters of Easton, MD to help raise funds for the luncheons, will be held August 16 at our Mercy Hall luncheon. 100% of the funds raised from the raffle will directly support our luncheons. Tickets are $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00. The picture does not do the quilt justice! It is gorgeous, and the quilters hand-quilted it this year. Thank you, Bayside!
Thanks also to the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society for space in their vendors’ area at their Silver Anniversary Show at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum last weekend. Jim and Guy stopped by to see us. Jim, thanks for sharing your picture! It was great to see you both!
Until next time, continued prayers for our military and their families.
Just notes this time. Sorry, no camera, no pictures.
Roster: Kate, Grace, Robin, Sally, Janet, and Jaime from “Touch of Relief” to do massages. Thank you! Job well done!
Menu: Texas Caviar and scoops, fresh veggie tray to takeover to 5 East, pork BBQ and rolls, chicken noodle casserole, salad and dressings, corn on the cob, green beans, watermelon, oranges, and bananas, dessert, smoothies, soda, Gatorade and fruit juice.
Yay! Reserved parking!
Smaller crowd than usual – turns out some of the Marines at Mercy Hall have internships on different days during the week around DC.
Some families came over from 5 East. One of them has been there since November.
The road to recovery is long. Thank you for supporting our mission.
Until next time, continued prayers for our military and their families.
He had his reasons and although he didn’t go into great detail, I respect them. One never knows where other’s paths have taken them…
Charity = Kindness.
Charity = Compassion.
Charity = Goodwill.
Charity also = hand outs, assistance, aid.
I wonder if somewhere along the line, he was taken advantage of by someone offering help under the auspices of “charity”.
I wish I had thought to say,
“Please accept our luncheon as a gift, a “Thank You for Your Service” from many, many people across this country who are grateful for your service to this country.”
That’s how I see our luncheons, as a “thank you”. His words caused me to have a “light bulb moment”… I need to rethink some things.
He left laughing, we were friends, and although he says he won’t be there in April, we’ll keep an eye out for him just in case.
There are no strings attached to our luncheons or the things we pass out to the troops or families during our visits. The gifts that enable us to host the luncheons come from people who ask for nothing in return. Many of them wish to remain anonymous. They prefer to give quietly and do not wish to receive any accolades for being benevolent. They are giving from their heart.
Those who want to give to the troops through us and want pictures and/or names of the troops in return, or do it for self-promotion – sorry. Marine Moms-Bethesda does not do that. You will have to find someone else to accommodate you.
The email began:
“Aloha, Jane, Greetings from a cloudy Kauai!”
A Navy Mom from Hawaii was “volunteered” by her Sailor to send a quilt for us to give to a Warrior. The quilt was given to a Marine who had been stationed in Hawaii. Thank you, Kauai Quilt Guild and Melissa for the beautiful quilt!
Katie is learning the ropes and will be coordinating some of the Mercy Hall luncheons this year. She did a wonderful job involving February’s luncheon crew with the planning and getting the information out to everyone. She also came up with some new ideas that we will be implementing behind the scenes to make the beforehand prep go a little more smoothly for everyone.
A meeting for the Marines to learn about new benefits was going on when we arrived. We had lots of help unloading the cars. After the meeting some of the guys played pool while they waited for us to finish setting things up.
Jess set up her massage chair and was busy the whole time.
Bob kept the smoothies going and Grace served.
We had a few names to look for and after we finished setting up, Katie went over to 5 East to give them a quilt and pillowcases from Bayside Quilters, pantry bags, and notes. She also invited the families she ran into to come over for lunch. Four of the families took her up on the invitation.
I can still smell the roasted vegetables and fresh green beans!
The salad disappeared.
Beef stew and cheesy chicken mac and cheese casserole were the main dishes.
Too many desserts! I can’t help it! I have it in my head to fatten the guys up and they have it in their heads to get back in shape! They always win!
Thank you to Kelly and Casey from Homestead Gardens for the cookies! They were a hit!
Today’s luncheon crew:
Katie, Jess, Grace, Bob and Jane.
Thank you! Job WELL done!
Until next time, continued prayers for our military and their families.
“Elfs”, Cookies, Stockings, Cards, and a Holiday Meal!
Here’s our AAR for Holiday Cheer 2010. Thank you to everyone who made it a wonderful success! You are SO appreciated!!!
Some “Elfs” sent gift cards, some sent stocking stuffers and ornaments, and others sent checks to help with the Santa shopping. They also helped by getting the word out about “Holiday Cheer at Bethesda” by posting on Facebook or on their websites and blogs.
Saying “Thank you” for your unconditional support of our wounded, injured, and ill service members seems inadequate to me. I have difficulty finding words strong enough to express the appreciation and gratitude that comes from the troops and their families when we gave them the stockings, cookies, cards, and food that they weren’t expecting.
So many people have given their time, money, and hearts to help with our event and each one of you have touched many people in extraordinarily wonderful ways that we will never know.
Thank you. We appreciate you.
Thank you to the “Cookie Elfs” – Kate, Barb, Don, Robin, Janelle, Aunt Jeanne and Mr. Russell, Alice, Catherine, Chris and her ladies from Bayside Quilters – Barb C. Kris S., and Marlene, and Grace. Thanks also to Delmarva Blue Star Mothers for helping to fund the cookie tins.
Jeanne, Janelle, Barb, Don. and Katie gathered together to sort the cookies into cheery tins. Each tin held a dozen assorted cookies.
Just a few of the delicious cookies the Cookie “Elfs” made.
Nope, they’re not mini-burgers. The cuties below were made by Alice and are vanilla wafers with a Peppermint Pattie between them to look like a hamburger, using red and yellow icing to hold them together to look like ketchup and mustard with sesame seeds on top.
We filled 77 cookie containers with at least a dozen cookies in each, and have cookies in the freezer for another luncheon. Grace brought at least 8 more containers with her the day of the luncheon.
Stockings were stitched by Bayside Quilters and filled with the help of “Elfs” from all over the country. Thank you Bayside Quilters for your support and dedication to our troops not only for “Holiday Cheer’, but all year long. You have brought so many smiles and so much comfort to the combat troops and their families throughout the year.
They were stuffed with things like this and more,
including hand-knitted hats by Jessi’s friends Cheryl, Tesia, Michelle, Abi, and “Covers & Soles”. Thank you!
Thank you, Elf Jess, for heading this up! A HUGE project! And thank you for doing massages after you unpacked the stockings.
Thanks also to “Elfs” Jason, Neale, and Erin who helped to wrap and stuff the 65 stockings.
The stockings were divided between which ones were best for Mercy Hall and best for 5 East; some for the guys and gals we see every Mercy Hall luncheon (we know what they like); some had more “things” while others had more gift cards.
Cards were sent by people all across the United States from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California, Minnesota to Texas and points in between. Some just had a signature; some had every spare space filled with words.
We made up 60 bundles with 30 to 40 cards in each packet. Thank you “Card Elfs”!
Thank you, Janelle and Katie, for helping to screen them.
Thank you to Susie, Grace, Katie, and Jess for the good food!
Menu: Roast beef, ham, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad, rolls, appetizers, pumpkin pie, apple pie, cookies, and smoothies. I probably forgot something.
Hope is interning for her future Naval MOS and is required to do volunteer work as part of the requirements. She helped Susie and Grace serve the luncheon.
More “Elfie” Stuff:
Bayside Quilters sent quilts as did some groups that are in contact with one of our volunteers.
Melissa from Ohio sent some warm, snuggly, beautiful fleece blankets with cards from the families that made them.
When we finished and packed up at Mercy Hall, Katie and I, with Hope’s help, went over to the hospital ward to distribute stockings, cookies, and the card bundles. When we returned to load up the car, the Mercy Hall staff was decorating with what we had left there.
This came from Amerina after the event:
“Hey Jane just wanted to thank you and let you know that the boys here at mercy hall enjoyed the stockings and yesterdays treats! I gave the rest of the stockings out at formation and hung the rest of the little stockings but by morning they were all gone. Such a success! Once again me and Pascal front desk staff would like to thank you for including us with your functions here @ mercy Hall Bethesda! I will send pictures of the tree as soon as we get it up. Thank you for funding the decorations.”
They ended up decorating two trees, one in the common room and one in the entryway.
Our Choptank Marine Corps League friends were with us. They helped sponsor “Holiday Cheer”.
Jim (“Old Corps”, 1946 – 1948) sent this out to his friends:
“A luncheon was served at Mercy Hall and gifts, blankets, quilts, canisters of cookies, stockings stuffed with goodies and packets of cards with greetings and thank you for your service were given out to the Marines recovering from wounds received in protecting our country. The meal was roast beef, and ham with all the trimmings.
Later stockings, cards and cookies were taken to the wards where the non-ambulatory were recovering.
Most moving was when a entire family of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mother and father, grandfather and grandmother [just guessing at the relationship] came through the line and took their meal over to the ward to be with their son. They received gifts as well for him.
Visiting the hospital and seeing the sacrifices of these young servicemen and servicewomen is very humbling.”
We also thank and are grateful for our “Defenders of Freedom” for their dedication and commitment to our country.