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UAlbany's Taylor Serves as a Soldiers' Angel

Wrapping the gifts

From left, Vice President for Communications and Marketing Catherine Herman, and staff members Terry Telesca, Lisa Taylor, and Gina Muscato wrap gifts in University Hall. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (December 27, 2010) --

Lisa Taylor will never forget what Soldiers' Angels did for her when she was deployed to Iraq as a specialist with the U.S. Army.

They sent care packages to her and cards to her family. Especially at the holidays, they checked in with her father Bill, mother Dorothy and sister Linda to see how they were doing.

"I was overwhelmed by the support shown to my family by people I've never met," said Taylor, who works in the University at Albany Office of Communications and Marketing as assistant to Vice President Catherine Herman. "So when I came back from deployment, I got in touch with some of those who sent me things. And I realized how many families -- especially during the holidays -- have a tough time."

Lisa Taylor, who volunteers with Soldiers' Angels

UAlbany's Lisa Taylor volunteers for Soldiers' Angels, a national organization that assists military families. (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

Taylor, who also served as a Naval Reserve hospital corpsman at Ground Zero in New York City in 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11, returned from Iraq in November 2005, and ended her military service in the Army in 2006. Her experience with Soldiers' Angels led the Cohoes native to become a volunteer for the group.

Each year during the holidays she sponsors two families – one of them a military family and the other through Albany County Adopt-a-Family. Taylor said the donations pour in from University at Albany employees.

This year Taylor collected clothing, toys and cash for a single father and his son, as well as for a military family with a boy, 12, girl, 9, boy, 8, and two 6-year-old boys. With the cash, she buys gift cards to area grocery stores and items off the wish list.

Daily life is an adjustment for families, especially those with young children, when one or both parents are deployed.

"First, they are separated at the holidays, and second, they are used to having two parents in the home," said Taylor. "They need financial and emotional help during that time. There are often child care issues. It's just harder being the only caretaker."

Another adjustment takes place when a family member returns from military service, especially if they have been injured. They may return with health issues and a mountain of medical bills. Others don't have a job when they come home.

"The whole readjustment process is hard for anyone," said Taylor.

Not every family who wants to be adopted is helped. Taylor notes that at one point, there was a waiting list of a few hundred military families.

Soldiers' Angels is a volunteer-led 501 (c) (3) nonprofit with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, veterans and their families.

The giving doesn't stop at the holiday season. Taylor has also collected for Easter baskets for military families and school supplies for children in Afghanistan.

The effort to support families in need at the holidays is one of the many ways UAlbany students, faculty, staff and alumni devote their time and talents to serve citizens in the Capital Region and around the globe during the holidays and year round.

To learn more about other opportunities where you can make a World of Difference, visit UAlbany’s Community Connections.

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