VINELAND — For years, outdoor activities could be somewhat of an inconvenience for residents of the Veterans Memorial Home.
The facility lacked outdoor furniture, so residents often would have to ask for help to do something as simple as sit outside on a nice day.
“We’d have to ask someone in activities to drag out a table for us,” explained Rick Toler, a disabled military veteran living at the home. “Sometimes they’d be able to do it.”
Now that problem has been eliminated, thanks to a donation of more than 60 pieces of outdoor furniture by the corporate parent of the Pottery Barn chain of stores.
Williams-Sonoma donated chairs and tables earlier this month after one of its pilots, Ron “Fuzzy” Freswick, heard about the situation from Susan Friedenberg, who works in aviation and is the daughter of Bernie Friedenberg, a decorated World War II veteran from Margate who, with the Jewish War Veterans of the United States’ local chapter, has also donated furniture to the Vineland home.
Freswick knew Pottery Barn had a good deal of furniture that might be nicked or slightly damaged in some way that made it unfit for sale but perfectly fit for use. After talking with company officials, they set up the donation, according to Mark Hayward, the company’s local distribution manager.
The process took a few months — Friedenberg and Freswick first communicated about it via the Internet around Memorial Day — but she pressed, and so did Freswick.
On Wednesday, the Friedenberg family toured the building with Freswick, Hayward and the home’s staff to talk with residents and show off the furniture. Susan Friedenberg praised Williams-Sonoma, which she said did not seek publicity for the donation.
“With corporate America being so greedy and selfish, to find a company to be so generous, without taking credit for it — they were quiet about it,” said Susan Friedenberg, who runs a company that trains flight attendants.
Her hope is to push other companies to offer similar donations to other veterans homes.
The Vineland facility is home to 300 veterans or spouses of veterans.
Most of the furniture appeared in good condition, though an umbrella at a table proved to be damaged upon being opened. But Hayward promised to fix it.
Williams-Sonoma may be donating more in the future as well, with kitchen wares in demand at the veterans home.
Also Wednesday, State Department of Veterans Affairs officials handed out awards to more than 30 residents of the home. The certificates and medals were granted by county and state officials in exchange for the veterans’ service in foreign wars.
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