Isabella “Izzy” He, Founder of Teens for Veterans (TFV), and a senior at Pittsford Mendon High School, first felt immense pride and gratitude towards our veterans at an annual Flag Day ceremony during her time at Thornell Road Elementary School. To take action to show her deep respect for our veterans, Izzy began helping the veterans of the Rayson-Miller Post 899 in the summer of 2017. She started off by organizing and archiving the post’s history, which meant sorting through a hundred years' worth of documents ranging from 1922 to the present. After several months, the organized documents made it much easier for the post's historian to access their history. By helping restore the foundation of the local post, the history of our WWI, WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam veterans can continue to be preserved and shared. Seeing how her efforts positively impacted veterans, Izzy was inspired to create a nonprofit organization—TFV—with great support from the Post Commander, Mr. Herdklotz.
Over the years, Izzy has organized fellow high and middle school students to help the post fundraise for the Rayson-Miller Post veterans on various occasions such as the Fourth of July hot dog stand and guitar raffle, the Town of Pittsford's Food Truck Rodeo and Music Fest, Paddle & Pour, and Candlelight Night. In addition, TFV helps Post 899 with its patriotic celebrations, such as the Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day Ceremonies, and musical volunteers provide holiday performances for veterans at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center.
“Without their help, I don’t know how we could pull it off,” Post Commander Herdklotz said in a recent American Legion interview featuring TFV. “It gives me pride in seeing our younger generation stepping forward to honor the people who have made this country what it is.”
Recently, TFV has grown from a local youth group into a national organization. Teens from other cities in NYS and other states have reached out and expressed their interest in opening a local chapter of TFV in their hometowns.
Isabella He, founder of Teens for Veterans
The COVID-19 has halted the world. But TFV has never stopped caring for our veterans. At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Izzy He and Hannah Wang, a TFV volunteer, organized a fundraiser to purchase surgical masks for our veterans. Hannah also handmade cloth masks for post members. Usually TFV volunteers perform music for residents at the VA hospital during the holidays, but the pandemic forced a cancellation of this year’s event. In order to connect with veterans during this challenging time, Izzy decided to organize a virtual concert for our veterans. She reached out to her classmates and the musicians at the Eastman School of Music. The 11 musicians recorded their own performances at home, and TFV volunteer Will Wang compiled them into a 40-minute video titled “We are Thinking of You”, which was published on You Tube.
The concert was shared with the local veterans and the veterans residing at the Canandaigua VA hospital, as well as nationally by the American Legion Headquarters (which has around 1.8 million members currently) on their website, membership and social media outlets, and on Channel 10 News.
Interviews featuring members of the Rayson-Miller Post 899.