Education, like almost everything else has been impacted this spring by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our students have been affected like all other students with school closures, stay-home orders, and distance learning. That’s why we couldn’t be prouder of our seniors this year that they were able to push through and finish the year strong, while also dealing with so much disappointment surrounding their graduation. We would like to honor them and tell you about how special these young people are and how excited we are for their plans for the future! First up, we have Celia. Celia has lived at the National Home for four years. While living here she has participated in our 4H program raising both pigs and rabbits. She has also enjoyed the non-livestock portion of 4H especially the art projects. Each summer for the past three years she has been a member of the Work Crew, helping to care for the National Home’s campus, as well as serving as the Vice President of our library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB). “These activities have taught me the importance of punctuality and attendance. They’ve given me the opportunity to experience things I would have never experienced without the help of the VFW.” Says Celia. Celia is graduating from the Eaton Rapids High school. In her high school career she has participated in volleyball and track. With the Home she has volunteered at the Battlecreek VA hospital and has spent each Memorial Day planting flags on veterans’ graves in the local cemetery. “The National Home has made it possible for me and my family to live comfortably in our home and experience many joys. My dad is currently getting his master’s degree in psychology at the University of Michigan which is made possible by the tremendous help of the National Home.” Celia has decided to join the United States Airforce after graduation. “I am extremely grateful for the countless opportunities that the National Home has given me and my family. I feel so blessed to have lived here for the time I have and I will remember these times for the rest of my life.” Next we have Cole. Cole has lived at the National Home for about a year and a half.He has enjoyed participating in all of the community events on campus and the computer lab in the National Home’s Community Center. “When I came to Eaton Rapids, I was 12 credits behind track for graduation.I would not have made it through if it wouldn’t have been for Laura in the tutoring lab helping me with math.” Said Cole. Cole is proud to be graduating from Eaton Rapids High school this year.At the high school he played football and had just started track when the quarantine measures kicked in.He has been working really hard to catch up on his credits, so he hasn’t had much opportunity to take advantage of all of the offerings to his age group on campus. “I can finally see my parents relax!” he said about living at the Home. “Ever since my dad was hurt in Iraq, money has been a problem and I was always old enough to see him struggle.My family laughs and has good times now and I even got my own car!” After graduation, Cole plans to pursue an apprenticeship. “I am interested in construction, farming, and electrical work.” He is also considering the criminal justice program at Lansing Community College. “Living here has been the best thing that has ever happened to my family. Before we came to live here, my mom and dad were working from daylight to dark to make ends meet. Since living here I have made so many friends and can’t wait to start my future with a good foundation because of living here.” Thirdly, we have Caleb. Caleb has lived at the National Home for the last four years. “Let me tell you, it has been a blast!” he says. “From Work Crew to the Lifeskills program events and trips. I have really enjoyed my stay at the National Home and I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to live here to take advantage of everything they have to offer. Participating on work crew has not only helped me make a few extra bucks over the summer, but also gave me the fundamentals to apply for jobs and confidence during job interviews. I was able to carry over these new skills and experiences over to reality and receive a job at my local pool and work as a lifeguard and teach swim lessons. Another opportunity I had with the VFW is being able to volunteer at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek where I got to meet so many wonderful people and build a relationship with our nations war veterans. Volunteering every Tuesday at the VA has helped me realize how much I enjoy helping others. Just the look on our veteran’s faces after my visits is priceless; just their smiles are the perfect reward for me.” For the last two years, Caleb has attended Eaton Rapids High School as well as Lansing Community College (LCC). “I have been fortunate enough to be dual enrolled at both my high school and my local community college to earn my required high school credits and get a start on college credits, working my way up to an associates degree right out of high school.” Caleb loves the hands on experience with cars and learning what a technician in the automotive industry is like at LCC. He hopes to take advantage of trade schools to become certified in either building construction or electrical engineering. “There are so many things that the VFW has made possible for me and my family.” Says Caleb. “Thanks to the National Home and all the people in it, I have been able to get a better idea of what I want to do after high school and receive support for my family while my dad was stationed in Kuwait with the National Guard for ten months. He left in November 2018 and safely returned home in August 2019. Him being away for that long was made easier with the community of other military families also living at the National Home. I appreciate the National Home for what it does and for what it provides to military families.” And last but not least, Payton. Payton has lived at the National Home for three years. During her time here, she has been very involved with campus activities, participating in the Work Crew, 4H club, lifeskills classes, Teen Advisory Board, and Cool Beans. She volunteered her time for many projects like cleaning up the bike shack, planting flags for Memorial Day, making Christmas cards for soldiers. “These activities taught me responsibility and taught me things I will need to use in the future.” She said. Payton is graduating from Eaton Rapids High school.After graduation she plans to go to college for Criminal Justice. Congratulations seniors! We know this isn’t the graduation you had planned on, but we can’t wait to see what you will do!