Jeff State’s Youth Leadership Development Program honors veterans

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — For the Youth Leadership Development Program at Jefferson State Community College, veterans aren’t the only ones deserving of gratitude.

Those that help veterans before, during or after their time in combat deserve to be honored as well.

Libby Holmes, director of the program, said that’s the guiding light behind the program’s yearly “patriotism meeting.”

“Each year we hold a ‘patriotism meeting’ to honor veterans for Veterans Day,” Holmes said. “We honor veterans and veterans supporters. We just want to include people who support veterans in a meaningful way.”

This year, the patriotism meeting was held the evening of Nov. 13. During the meeting, the YLDP presented awards to various veterans and veteran supporters.

Holmes said YLDP officials chose to honor Dave Wood, CEO of food service distribution company Wood Frutticher and noted veteran supporter, by renaming the Veteran Supporter Award for him.

“He’s a wonderful veterans supporter, and he does the Angel Flight. He uses his own plane and his own time and money to fly wounded soldiers around the country when they have doctors’ appointments and surgical appointments far away,” Holmes said.

The YLDP honored locals Mark Ryan, Pam Nichols and Amy McDonald with the Dave Wood Veteran Supporter Award.

The YLDP also presented three men with the Col. Leo Thorsness Veteran Award. The three veterans honored were Col. George Singleton, Col. Glenn Nivens and Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins.

Thorsness, who attended the meeting and presented the veteran awards, is a Medal of Honor winner who spent six years in captivity in North Vietnam as a prisoner of war. He lives in the state of Washington.

The YLDP has about 400 student members from 53 different area high schools from across St. Clair, Jefferson and Shelby counties. Members are nominated by their high school principals and counselors based on their character and leadership potential. The YLDP is a consortium of 12 college partners, corporate and community partners and is actually part of a Greater Alabama Council Boy Scout of America program.