"Major" Melvin M.

United States

"Major" Melvin McLaughlin

2013 Winner

Randolph, VT
Nominated by Robin Palmer

Volunteered for:

Gifford Medical Center

Length of Service:

40+ hours per month for 40 years

March 25, 2013

Every single day, now 95-year-old Maj. Melvin McLaughlin makes the short drive from his Randolph home to his local hospital, Gifford Medical Center, to lend more than a helping hand; he lends a helping heart. Pushing a walker, Major visits every hospital unit and Gifford's adjoining nursing home to offer patients and staff alike love, a listening ear and the sincerest of thanks. Whether at a patient or staff member's side, male or female, stranger or friend, Major - as most know him - breaks the ice with a catch phrase. "Has anyone told you today that they love you?" If the answer is no, Major is ready with his reply: "Well, God loves you and so do I." Staff members are also treated to the most heartfelt thanks for the job they do and somewhere in this sharing of love, there is almost always a hug between the kind-hearted Major and those lucky enough to step in his path.

Major's volunteerism at Gifford began more than four decades ago. Major retired from 25 years with the U.S. Marines in 1967 at age 49 and moved to Vermont, where his beloved wife had spent childhood summers on a family farm. Major's first order of business was to put down roots in his new community. He built the home he still lives in today and a second one for one of his daughters. He cut every board and nailed every nail alone. With the homes complete, Major turned to his local hospital as another way to engrain himself in his new community. He started by delivering the local paper to patient rooms each Thursday. Later, he took patients food orders on a clipboard.

Several years ago, his visits became far more frequent. He put down the meal order clipboard and began making general rounds to the Emergency Department, medical office building, Birthing Center, inpatient rooms and the Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home, where his own wife would spend the last year of her life. Florence McLaughlin was the love of Major's life. During their 66 years of marriage, Major would ask his "bride," as he always called her, the question he now poses to all he meets at the hospital. "Has anyone told you today that they love you?" "No, no one but you, and you're the only one I wanted to hear it from," the beautiful Florence would answer. Florence's death didn't stop Major's seven-day-a-week visits to Gifford and Menig or stop him from sharing the words that meant so much to his wife. Even with his personal loss, he still loves spending time in the nursing home and takes the greatest pleasure in seeing a newly born baby in the Birthing Center. "I'm the luckiest man walking the streets of Randolph," he often says.

"Gifford is home," he's told us on more than one occasion. In fact, he told the same to a local television station that featured Major's unique story. See the heart-warming story at http://www.wcax.com/story/16958439/super-seniors. "I have so many friends here, from the top to the bottom. And I emphasize the bottom because I like to tell those people 'thank you for what you do, because without your labors this place would not stand.'"

We at Gifford love Major. He is a brilliant and beautiful light in the day. As one nurse put it, "A day without Major is a day without sunshine." He is the personification of what we are as an organization - warm, compassionate, supportive, humbled and blessed to be able to care for others. Introduce a new staff member, patient or nursing home resident to Major and we have just told them everything they need to know about us. We care. We're family. We're here for you. This is the type of individual who walks our halls. This is our benchmark for love. For his boundless selflessness, remarkable strength of character and length of commitment, we can't imagine an individual more deserving of this service award than our amazing, treasured friend Major.

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Nominations - 1,060

Votes - 110,781

Prize Description

The National Winner’s designated non-profit charity will receive a $5,000 donation, courtesy of Home Instead, Inc., the franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network. Each Local Winner’s designated non-profit charity will receive a $500 donation. All Winners will receive a certificate and a spot in the Contest’s “Wall of Fame” here on SaluteToSeniorService.com in recognition of their outstanding service.

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