The veterans at the Pete Knight Veterans home are getting spoiled for Valentine’s weekend. Local groups have been coming by, bringing gifts and visiting with the retired veterans.
On a surprisingly warm winter morning, the staff and veterans of the home were gifted with 82 vases of carnations and greenery from the personnel at Edwards Air Force Base.
Valentine decorations hung from the ceiling and the smell of barbecue being prepared by the Rotary Club of Lancaster, wafted through the air on Saturday. Veterans sat four to a table filled with Valentine decorations and treats, enjoying lunch and conversing with friends.
“We’ve been coming once a month for the last five or six years,” said James Baker of the Rotary. “We enjoy it, being with the guys, listening.” The Rotary Club barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs and served them with all the fixings and side dishes.
Members of the Lancaster High School Eagle Robotics Team 399 brought their robot Eniac to demonstrate its Frisbee throwing capabilities. They also gave out homemade Valentine’s Day cards and Team 399 buttons. The Valentines were created over the last few months in anticipation of Valentine’s Day with the greeting “thank you for serving” written inside.
Annette Gewirtz, Activities Coordinator for the home said they have been receiving gifts and visits all week. Other organizations that were supporting the vets with visits included local schools and the Girl Scouts. One local couple donated gift bags filled with cookies and other treats and decorated with a Valentine’s Day design. On Friday, members of the Young Americans visited and brought cookies.
“Every year it’s more and more,” said John Gonzalez, Army Specialist Class 4 (ret.) who has been living here the last four years. He celebrated his birthday February 7th and was surprised and delighted to receive a card and gift from a stranger in Arkansas. “This whole valley is just so committed to us. We are so well-cared for,” said Gonzalez.
Anyone interested in visiting the veterans’ home can make arrangements by calling (661) 974-7035. The veterans’ home is open to anyone retired from military service. Veterans who are age 55 and above and discharged from active military service under honorable conditions, are eligible to apply for admission. The age requirement is waived for disabled or homeless veterans needing long-term care.
The William J. “Pete” Knight Veterans Home of California—Lancaster is a 60-bed, long-term Residential Care Facility, also known as “assisted living.” The Veterans Home opened in November, 2010. The Veterans Home provides California Veterans with a living environment that protects their dignity and contributes to their feeling of self-reliance and self-worth.
The Home was named in honor and memory of the late Senator William J. “Pete” Knight, a former United States Air Force Colonel who spent 32 years in dedicated service to his country and flew more than 253 missions in Vietnam. He was also considered one of the Veterans Home’s strongest and most vocal advocates when he served in the California State Senate.