As we conclude Volunteer Recognition Week, here’s one with Hall of Fame credentials.

They could hang a plaque honoring Tom Parkinson beyond the centerfield wall of Cleve Borman Field at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville, in the style of Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. After all, eight years ago, the recent Yountville Home Hall of Fame inductee organized and named the team of veterans that plays an entertaining brand of softball at the field.

“I went into the (dining room) one day, and thought ‘Mixed Nutts! Perfect!’” Parkinson said.

Or, they could mount it in Holderman Hospital, where the 76-year-old Vietnam veteran volunteered for seven years, escorting veterans and their spouses in the skilled nursing facility to their appointments and activities.

Photo of Lisa A. Peake, Yountville Home Administrator, and Tom Parkinson, Hall of Fame inductee
Administrator Lisa A. Peake presents Hall of Fame medal to Yountville Home veteran Tom Parkinson.

“When I started, it was mostly World War II guys,” Parkinson said. “I took a real interest in them and their families. Then, COVID came along and we couldn’t mix the domiciliary folks with (patients). I’m hoping we can get back to that soon.”

They could feature it in the domiciliary where he toted meals to veterans and spouses in their residences during the pandemic, when the communal dining halls were closed. He lobbied successfully for hot breakfast options over cereals and cold milk, he said.

“You can advocate and make a change,” said Parkinson, who also volunteered as a deputy in his building, making the rounds to make sure other veterans were safe when they were encouraged to stay in their rooms to prevent outbreaks.

Or, they could place it at the Home’s nine-hole golf course, where he volunteers his time orchestrating tournaments for the veterans.

Okay, so they give Yountville’s Hall of Famers gold medals hanging from red, white, and blue ribbons instead of plaques. But, the fact remains that Parkinson’s volunteerism—a veteran serving veterans—has left an imprint from one end of the Veterans Home campus to the other since he arrived in 2013.

He simply loves doing anything within his means to help his fellow veterans and their spouses who live at the 139-year-old Home, and constantly recruits others to join him in that joy.

Photo of Tom Parkinson in baseball uniform
Parkinson at Mixed Nutts game.

“When new guys come in, we want them to get out of their rooms and to help,” said Parkinson, who serves as a delegate for the Home’s Allied Council, which reports to the state legislature. “That is really healthy and cathartic for them to get out and get involved.

One new veteran resident, he said, initially stayed inside and mostly to himself. Parkinson worked with administrators to bestow a “job title” upon the vet to motivate him to become more active. He tended to flowers, cleaned up the grounds, and it made a difference.

“He’s just a changed guy,” Parkinson said. “It energized him, and got him out and about.”

Parkinson served as a combat medic in Vietnam in 1967 before new orders sent him to serve two years in Munich, Germany, where wounded U.S. military personnel were sent to recover.

When he arrived at the Yountville Home in 2013, he met retired 30-year Army and Veterans Affairs nurse, Sandra Woodford.

Photo of Tom Parkinson on Yountville Veterans Home golf course
Parkinson on golf course at Yountville Veterans Home.

“We fell in love and got married,” he said. “She outranks me.”

Woodford is a Home Helper with the Home’s Creative Arts Center.

Parkinson’s efforts are obvious on many fronts, to the point where staff members and veterans nominated him for the Home’s Hall of Fame. 

“Tom is an outstanding volunteer who has an amazing ability to motivate and unite others,” Yountville Home Administrator Lisa A. Peake said. “His advocacy for veterans and his fellow home members is unparalleled. Tom’s selflessness and willingness to give back are shining examples of what it takes to be an incredible volunteer and truly make a difference.”

He received his medal during the Yountville Home’s Founder’s Day festivities on April 6.

No, residents and visitors won’t see a plaque honoring him anywhere across the campus. Instead, they are more likely to see Parkinson himself, the veteran and volunteer’s volunteer, in action.

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CalVet’s eight Veterans Homes of California offer long-term care to aged and disabled veterans as well as their eligible spouses and domestic partners. With facilities across the state, the Veterans Homes offer services ranging from independent living programs with minimal support to 24/7 skilled nursing care for veterans with significant clinical needs.

CalVet staff are uniquely capable of serving the needs of the veterans community and offering an environment that honors their service to the country. The Veterans Homes are nationally recognized for the premier care and services they provide to California’s veterans. For more information about the Veterans Homes of California, visit the CalVet Veterans Homes page.

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