Joan E. Nichols of Bally was honored for her dedication and service to veterans at the monthly Bally Borough Council meeting on March 5.
Nichols is a member of the Lieutenant Matthew Smith Chapter of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. Since 1998 she has held many offices. Presently she is serving as vice regent and chairman of service to veteran patients.
During that time, she has collected over $175,000 worth of clothing, toiletries and funds for the veterans at the Coatesville VA Hospital. One year she received a donation of 3,000 pairs of socks and delivered some of them to Lebanon and Wilkes-Barre VA hospitals.
Pennsylvania State Rep. David Maloney presented Nichols with a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives recognizing her efforts for the veterans. Donald Conrad, a Marine veteran, was instrumental in her receiving the recognition.
When Nichols first became chairman, the 83-year-old contacted the VA where she heard about the Mistletoe Christmas Program. She decided she wanted to follow that program and give the veterans a merrier Christmas. A member of Most Blessed Sacrament parish in Bally, she credits Monsignor Edward Coyle, who was pastor at the time, with giving her permission to start a collection for veterans. “About 80 percent of what the veterans received came from Most Blessed Sacrament parishioners,” she said.
Local businesses have also been instrumental in donating to the veterans.
She has been named Outstanding Volunteer several times at the VA and in 2005 received the prestigious Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award aboard a Liberty Ship at Penns Landing.
Nichols has personally delivered items to the Coatesville VA hospital each year except for the 1998 delivery. She said for the past 21 years, each veteran received a gift at Christmas thanks to the generosity of the community.
“We have to give something back to the veterans and show them we do care,” Nichols said. She was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease but plans to host the collection for at least three more years.