Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that make a big difference.
“We appreciate K&W giving out great Danishes, serving us on china and real silverware,” jokes Vernon Robinson, a graduate of the Air Force Academy and an Air Force veteran.
Robinson proudly wears a Tuskegee Airmen logo on his leather jacket on this Wednesday. His father was one of the famed African-American pilots during World War II. Robinson didn’t appreciate that as much as a young person. He does now, as he appreciates all of the veterans who are gathered at the K&W Restaurant in Winston-Salem.
“It's mostly Vietnam veterans,” notes Robinson. “Korean veterans are getting up there, a little bit.”
But there are several in the restaurant on this day. As K&W’s staff prepares for the lunch service, they sit with other veterans off to one side, enjoying that Danish and coffee provided by K&W and served by volunteers from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
To host veterans each week even with such simple provisions adds up when you do it at two dozen locations. But K&W was happy to do it.
“It's a small price to pay for those guys to have a place to come to,” said Reggie Owens, of K&W.
“Those guys” are veterans like Barnie Barnett. Barnett is 78-years-old and from Reidsville. He joined the Navy in 1960 to, “See the world.”
“I saw a bunch of it - some of it I could forget about,” Barnett said.
He was on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin on July 29, 1967, when a bomb on one of the planes unexpectedly exploded, killing 134 sailors and wounding 161 others. The fire also destroyed 21 aircraft and cost the Navy more than half a billion dollars (when adjusted for inflation) in damage.
Penny Edmonds is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution who not only helps serve the coffee but enjoys spending time learning the veterans’ stories.
“It's important for us to never forget and to always appreciate the sacrifices our servicemen made for us and to show that in whatever ways we can,” Edmonds saod.
Several veterans have told the folks at Daughters of the American Revolution that they believe the constant contact has helped save their lives, which is why they told the DAR, “It appears that the weekly contact does make a difference,” Robinson said.
Even if a veteran isn’t depressed, Barnett sees a lot of value in showing up.
“Why not go?” Barnett said. “What have you got to lose? You might strike up a friendship you never had, before.”
Most K&W locations host the coffees on Wednesdays. The Salisbury location, which attracts more than a hundred, each week, holds the coffees on Tuesdays.