Street Stories

A side of veggies and kindness for local veterans

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- No one involved with serving up dozens of boxes of produce to a local veterans' home over the past four years wanted a pat on the back for their work.

"They deserve it," Mike Kelly said, after a recent delivery. "We just hope others will see what we're doing and find a way to give back to their own community."

When Kelly is not delivering vegetables to veterans, he is a firefighter in Providence, where years ago, he was inspired by one of his mentors about the value of giving back to the community they serve.

Many of the the veterans who live in the Providence home, where boxes of fresh produce have landed every weekend since the first harvest, are dealing with the hidden wounds of war.

"When they get up in the morning, their first thought is not, 'Hey I'm going to try to eat really healthy today,'" Kelly said. "However, when it's in front of them, I think that's a different story."

The different story started about four years ago when Missy Greene and Kelly heard that Woodstock Farms had some extra produce and a desire to make sure it did not go to waste.

Amy Vinal said Woodstock Farms has been growing produce for nearly three decades, and has family ties to the armed services. 

"I'm very proud of our country and our heritage and anything we can do to help them, I want to do that," Vinal said. 

Greene said she's is inspired by the reaction from the veterans.

"I feel sometimes they get forgotten," Greene said. "They sit out on their porch and I think they look forward to Saturdays."

Vinal said the vets also started to can and dry some of the vegetables. They also began to pickle the cucumbers and beets.

So even though the deliveries stop in the fall, healthy meals can continue through the winter. 

"They use every bit of it," Kelly said.

Kelly and the other volunteers shrug off any credit for giving up some of his free time to serve some veterans.

"They've given so much of their time and physical well-being to the nation," Kelly said. "And what we're doing is really just a small, small token of appreciation."

Email Walt at wbuteau@wpri.com with you story ideas and follow us on  Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.


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