Project Emeritus builds block of solid volunteers


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Volunteers at Patrick Air Force Base have not lost their enthusiasm for helping others even though the coronavirus pandemic has all but stopped their work — temporarily.

“It has essentially slowed down the volunteer program to a crawl,” said Salvatore Lauricella, director of Project Emeritus.

Project Emeritus is a program to recruit volunteers from among military retirees, active duty, dependents and civil service personnel to help the base in mission support operations.

I know volunteers with the program who also give their time to local veterans’ organizations.

It is refreshing to know that there are volunteers who are eager to get back to helping on the base but know that they must stay away for now. Most will have to wait until the base commanders give the OK to return.

There is a good pool of about 100 volunteers who help at the base, but there is room for more. They are asked to give at least four hours a week. Some give a lot more.

They work in the Retirees Activities Office, the Wellness Center, the visitors center, the golf course, Airman’s Attic, the Honor Guard office and other locations and offices throughout the base. Some also serve at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Commanders and Air Force personnel are appreciative of the work of the volunteers, said Lauricella, a retired Army colonel, who has volunteered since 1991.

“You put a lot of years in the military,” he said. “You get a sense of camaraderie and you are doing something worthwhile.”

Joe Tichich, who directs the Retiree Activity Office, said that now because of the pandemic, only essential personnel are at the base. Some of the volunteers are eager to come back.

“They’re saying we’re ready to go back to work,” Tichich said.

The volunteers are being told to stay in touch and be patient.

“There are a number of people who are eager to volunteer,” Lauricella said.

Both Lauricella and Tichich want to make sure that whenever the all-clear is given for volunteers to return that there will be enough to fill all the needs on the base.

They are continually recruiting volunteers ­— people who already have access to the base.

Those wishing to volunteer can contact a volunteer coordinator at 321-494-7656 or email PAFBvolunteers@gmail.com.