BUCKHANNON – Deaonna Crowe was named Veteran Volunteer 2018-2019 for her work with Helping Heal Veterans. The Elks National Veteran Service Committee of West Virginia presented the award to the Buckhannon Lodge 1736 at the West Virginia Elks annual convention in Canaan Valley.
Helping Heal Veterans is located in California and provides free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans. These craft kits help injured and recuperating veterans improve fine motor skills, cognitive functions, manage stress and substance abuse, cope with symptoms of PTSD, while also improving their sense of self-esteem and overall physical and mental health. Most of these kits are developed, manufactured and packaged for delivery at their production center headquartered in Winchester, California. Since inception, Helping Heal Veterans has delivered nearly 31 million arts and crafts kits to veterans and veteran facilities nationwide, along with active duty military overseas. Kits range in categories including woodworking, leather, models, and a variety of needlecrafts, and paint-by-numbers.
Crowe first started receiving the craft kits in January 2018. She wanted to take the program back to the vets in the hospital and not just provide the art kits to those in nursing homes. Through her diligence, she found out that the Elks were involved with this program. “Then I knew that was my way in,” Crowe said. “After meeting some resistance, I spoke with the Progressive Women’s Association in Clarksburg, and finally, everyone agreed that I could go to the VA hospital with crafts for the vets,” Crowe said. She has placed three orders for the crafts kits, and said the vets love them. “Since moving to the Elks in Buckhannon and knowing they are willing to work with me, my orders from here on out will be going through the Elks of Buckhannon,” Crowe said.
“I have logged 300 miles to and from the VA,” Crowe said. She has also spent personal time of about 60 hours with the vets. She feels like she has gained much from the experience. “I have gotten to have great talks with lots of interesting people.” “I don’t do this for the recognition, Crowe added. “I do it to help people and organizations out.”