When Barbara Yallaly retired from Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. in 1990, she was already a familiar face at the Missouri Veterans Home.
Yallaly, who has been with the American Legion Auxiliary more than 32 years, is home representative for Southeast Missouri American Legion posts and auxiliary units, which have provided thousands of volunteer hours to the home since it opened in 1990.
"I do a lot of paperwork and planning for the auxiliary, all on a voluntary basis," said Yallaly.
Yallaly has piled up more than 7,500 hours at the home.
The auxiliary, with Yallaly's planning, does a lot for the Veterans Home. The 14th District Auxiliary, which reaches from Jackson, Mo., to the Arkansas state line and as far west as the Missouri towns of Doniphan and Naylor, provides funding to help vets in their activities.
Yallaly said she works closely with Ken Lipps, director of volunteer services at the Veterans Home.
"We host Super Bowl parties, we take the guys on trips, we provide a Christmas gift shop and a 'chair basket' shop for personal hygiene items for the veterans," she said. "Besides my church, this is my selected organization for volunteering. The auxiliary's motto is 'service not self,' and volunteering with the Veterans Home gives me and others a chance to show affection for veterans and their part in preserving our American freedom."
Jackson and Cape Girardeau auxiliary units are active with Veterans Home programs, said Yallaly. When an activity is planned, men from the American Legion and women from the auxiliary help make it a success.
Yallaly and her husband, John, have each received Missouri Veterans Home Volunteer of the Year awards. Last year, she received the Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award from the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Missouri for volunteer work with the legion auxiliary, the Veterans Home and her church.
The Chapel of Four Chaplains award was established in Philadelphia in 1951. The Chapel and American Legion of Honor recalls the courageous act by four Army chaplains who gave their lifejackets to others when a ship of troops was torpedoed during World War II. It killed 772 men.
The Veterans Home honors its volunteers each year.
More than 250 volunteer at the facility, Lipps said. Those volunteers have provided more than 300,000 volunteer hours.
"Volunteering makes me feel good," Yallaly said. "The guys and gals are great, whether you're taking them on a trip, participating in an activity, or just sitting around talking."
Living a life of service is the only way Yallaly knows.
"It is the American way," she said.