Saturday Morning Message: Volunteer Work Helps Healing

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

The opening picture comes from the article, "Survivors Fill Community Need for Face Mask" written by Susie Ristau, mother of Michael. She tells how survivors spend time making and sending masks for anyone in need. Her daughter makes hair scrunchies as well. At the end of the article, Susie writes, “I know our Michael is looking down on me and Halie and smiling.” Their work shows they are both donating much needed items to honor this special veteran.

Susie Ristau making masksPhoto courtesy of Susie Ristau

This coming Wednesday is Veterans’ Day. Since our loved ones were all veterans, many of us contribute our time in honor of those we hold close to our hearts. During the pandemic, it has been hard to do the volunteer work that we normally do. This week responders shared ways they have still been able to give back. Even in these difficult times, we can still find ways to assist and connect with others. When we do, we may find healing for ourselves.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Responses from Survivors to last week's question

What do you do to volunteer to help others in your community?

From Kim, spouse of Milton: Milton and I had decided to do animal transport in his personal plane once he came home from deployment. Since that did not work out and I subsequently sold his plane, I have volunteered to do animal transport in his old SUV. I have transported over 50 cats and dogs, mainly as one of the legs of a multi-state transport. It has been very rewarding and I know he is smiling down on me with each load. 

From Elizabeth, spouse of Joseph: My husband, Joe, received such good care at the Providence Veterans’ Administration Hospital, I had to do something to give back. Except for a 2 month pandemic break, I spend my Monday mornings at a local Vet Center.  I answer the phone, make reminder calls and welcome clients. At home, I knit lap robes for the Rhode Island Veterans’ Home. There won't be many this year, but usually I'm honored to bring cards for Veterans’ Day and Valentine’s Day to the hospital. The best part is handing the cards directly to the vets.  I also give them to spouses. 

From Beth, spouse of Thomas: Girl Scouts were a big part of my life. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Brownie experience and never earned my Fly-up wings. However, I did get to participate in three Wider opportunities which allowed me to travel within the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  I also earned the two highest awards - the Silver Award and the Gold Award. Tom knew how much I loved Girl Scouts and he had been a Police Explorer through the Boy Scouts. During COVID-19, Girl Scouts of the USA reached out to life-time members and asked for volunteers to teach a four week long virtual program called "Make New Friends". For two months, I got to read stories and sing with 5 year old girls. The Girl Scout Council that I volunteered with sent me a t-shirt and a card saying, "You are truly a sister to every Girl Scout.”  Giving something back to children really helped me. 

If you would like to send a note commenting on one or all of the responses in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to and your thoughts will be passed along to each contributor. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

We may be finding that we are spending more time at home. Reading books may help fill those hours, so let’s share some of the books we have found interesting. This week’s question is: Do you have a book you would like to share that has helped you in your grief or helped you with coping in the pandemic? I know others will find your thoughts helpful when looking for their next book to read. 

The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. Questions for future messages are always welcome. You can reply to this message or email In order to have your reply included the following week, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning. Thank you to everyone responding this week and to those who read this message.


Song for the Week


notes icon

From Derek, son of Millard: The song, "This Ain’t Nothing" by Craig Morgan is special to me, because of its message. It is about a man who lost his home when a tornado hit it. A TV reporter asked him what he was going to do. The man told the reporter about all the people in his life who were important to him who had passed away. He basically said that you can replace material things, but you can’t replace a loved one. 

TAPS Spotify Playlist: A survivor once suggested we include a song of the week, which has now become a biweekly feature. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a free playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. The playlist is called TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Songs of Love and Remembrance.

Next Week: We will feature a special recipe from a survivor who will include why that dish has a special meaning. 

If you have a favorite recipe or song for this section, please send it to me at


Related Stories

Sharon Paz and Lori Branch

Article: Volunteers are invaluable

The need for volunteers at TAPS is increasing as the number of military survivors seeking comfort and care increases, and programming grows to support them.

pschyarmor institute webinar screenshot

VIDEO: Setting Boundaries as a Volunteer

This course discusses the importance setting personal and professional boundaries when working with different groups.


Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).