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West Hartford Old Guard Carries On, Virtually and In-Person

John Perra (l) and Hiro Takata ring the bell at the Salvation Army kettle at the LaSalle Road post office, among 40 Old Guard members who carried on the annual tradition this holiday season. Courtesy photo

The Old Guard has continued to meet virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and members are also assisting at in-person activities.

Submitted by Donald Kauke, Director of Communications

The Old Guard, in its 55th year of existence, is carrying on despite the limitations of current public health limitations. Devoted to social and civic activity, the group now meets bi-weekly via social network on the internet.

The group continues to feature interesting speakers at their virtual meetings, recently including an epidemiologist and even an overseas presentation. Peter Varden, speaking from his home in England, described his reactions to the United States resulting from his many visits here, in a presentation he called “A Strangers Reaction to a Very Strange Land.”

While meetings are virtual, a large contingent of members continues the tradition of staffing the Salvation Army kettle at the LaSalle Road post office, others continue to deliver Meals-on-Wheels, and another group works at home-building with Habitat for Humanity. Because of restrictions, volunteer activity at the UConn Health Center and Foodshare has been suspended.

While the Zoom meeting concept may be old hat for the younger set, the concept has been extremely successful for the Old Guard, with only a small reduction in the number of members who attend meetings. The Old Guard includes over 200 retired men, being led this year by its President Ron Van Winkle.

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