AIC students visit the Soldiers’ Home on Veterans Day


L-R: Alyssa Reardon (U.S. Air Force Veteran & President of the AIC Armed Forces Club) and service dog MJ, Allison Gavin (President of the AIC Lion’s Club), Jennifer Fannon (Member of the AIC Lion’s Club), Robby Ollari (Editor of the YJ), Janelle Fried (Treasurer of the AIC Lion’s Club) at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass.

Robby Ollari, Editor-in-Chief

On the morning of Veterans Day 2017, five AIC students made the trip to the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass. to visit the veterans and thank them for their service by passing out handmade cards made by members of the AIC family.

L-R: Allison Gavin, Jennifer Fannon, Robby Ollari, Janelle Fried, Alyssa Reardon and MJ the service dog.

AIC’s Lions Club and Armed Forces Club teamed up and collaborated for this special community service effort. Earlier in the week, the Lions Club tabled outside the AIC’s Dining Commons and the Hive, allowing passersby the chance to take a minute and design a Happy Veterans Day card. The Armed Forces Club coordinated with the Soldiers’ Home to help make the card delivery possible.


Early Saturday morning, Alyssa Reardon (Air Force veteran and Armed Forces Club president) and her service dog MJ, Allison Gavin (Lion’s Club president), Janelle Fried (Lion’s Club treasurer), Jennifer Fannon (Lion’s Club member), and Robby Ollari distributed the cards on behalf of AIC and met with veterans who reside at the facility.

The group started in a common area of the Soldiers’ Home before venturing upstairs to walk up and down the halls, knocking on veterans’ doors to personally hand out the cards.

Veterans from various branches engaged in some great conversations with the group along the way, with lots of laughs, smiles, and appreciation for the cards and the special visit. Their eyes lit up when they were greeted by MJ the service dog. When one veteran found out the students were in college, he proceeded to entertain the group by rifling off multiple trivia questions.

The group poses for a photo with Jack Williams, U.S. Army corporal and graduate of AIC’s class of 1952.

The students were also lucky enough to stumble upon an AIC grad who honorably served our country, meeting and greeting with Jack Williams. Williams is a graduate of AIC’s class of 1952. He served as a corporal in the U.S. Army, and was very thankful for the card and the visit.

Alyssa Reardon, U.S. Air Force veteran and her service dog MJ.



Reardon, who runs AIC’s Armed Forces Club, is a veteran herself. She served for seven years in the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom, and at the Soldiers’ Home she proudly donned her American Legion Post 338 (Southwick, Mass.) cap.

Reardon shared her thoughts on how happy she was to give back on Veterans Day.

“It was a real honor,” Reardon said. “I’ve never been to the Soldiers’ Home, and I’m from here. So it was really nice to see the veterans that live here and to give back to them.”

Gavin, the president of AIC’s Lions Club, agreed. She talked about her appreciation for the veterans and all they have done for the country.

“Visiting the Soldiers’ Home was such an eye-opening experience. A lot of people these days don’t really recognize the veterans but without them, we won’t be where we are in the world today,” Gavin said. “You really can’t thank them enough for their service and bravery for our country.”

After all the cards were distributed, the group enjoyed an outdoor viewing area overlooking Mount Tom, Holyoke, and the Springfield skyline out in the distance. Everyone was in awe of the massive American flag towering high above the observation area – which made for some great photo opps.

When all said and done, the students were truly thankful for the military service of these individuals, as well as the opportunity to visit the veterans and pass out Happy Veterans Day cards. They showed great pride and respect for the vets, and everyone’s day was made after participating in such a thoughtful community service gesture.

Special thanks to the Armed Forces Club and the Lions Club for joining forces and personally delivering a huge stack of homemade cards on behalf of the AIC community to the brave and honorable veterans of the Soldiers’ Home.

And of course, thanks again to all of the veterans who have bravely served our country.