Hi, I’m Frederick Puffenberger. On May 22, 2019, I was named the new Executive Director for the VFW National Home for Children here in my hometown of Eaton Rapids, Michigan.
Who would have guessed that 80 years after my grandfather, also named Fred Puffenberger, worked at the National Home as a herdsman, I would be continuing his journey to serve our outstanding mission.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children provides children, youth and families of veterans, active-duty military and members of the VFW and its Auxiliary opportunities for growth and development in a nurturing community, and by doing so serves as a living memorial to all veterans.
Serving children and veteran families since 1925, the VFW National Home for Children has expanded its programs and services over the years to address the ever-changing culture and the challenges of the modern world. Through the years and the changes, we remain true and authentic to fulfilling our mission.
I look forward to keeping you updated on our continued journey to serve our veterans and their families. It is an exciting time at the National Home and I hope you journey with us.
What’s Happening at the National Home
Brooklyn lives in the Illinois 1 House at the National Home with her mom, step-dad and two sisters – Londyn who is 1 and Taylor who is 17.
She just finished fourth grade and is going to be in middle school next year. Her favorite things to do at school are music and reading.
At the National Home, some of her favorite hobbies are painting and playing in the gym but most of all she loves piano lessons with Ms. Rhonda and playing outside.
“I like painting because I can use my creativity and it gives me a chance to unleash my inner artist!” she says.
“I like going to open gym because I can play basketball with my sister and I can run around all over the place.”
Meet a Few of Our 2019 Graduates
Madison has lived at the National Home for three years. While here she has done it all! She has participated in 4H, Life Skills classes, worked on the Work Crew, volunteered at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek, participated in painting classes, and served on the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) at the National Home’s library.
She said these opportunities gave her a sense of responsibility and taught her about being a reliable person.
Madison will be graduating from Eaton Rapids High School where she participated in Young Life, a Christian ministry group for adolescents.
She plans on attending Western Michigan University in the fall.
Sam is fairly new to the National Home but already has made plans to participate in many things! He joined 4H this season and enjoyed raising a pig. He is participating in Life Skills classes and worked on the Work Crew this summer. He is currently working for a moving company as well.
Sam is a member of the Early College program through the Eaton Rapids High School in partnership with Lansing Community College. He has completed his high school requirements but will continue with an additional “13th” year and when he is done, he will have his associates degree in welding!
His plans for the future are to work as a welder.
Many parents use their time at the National Home to take the opportunity to complete college degrees or obtain certificates. We had five parents this year that were recognized for their academic accomplishments:
Angie: Medical Assistant certificate (not pictured)
Elizabeth: Certificate of Cosmetology (right)
Johnathon: Associate’s Degree in Network Administration (left)
Rob D.: Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (not pictured)
Rob M.: Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (middle)
Thanks to VFW Posts and Auxiliaries around the country and a special matching gift from Jerry and Linda Peterson, we were able to complete a new Education and Training Center on the VFW National Home for Children campus! This bright, modern and comfortable meeting space will accommodate up to 60 people and is a functional learning area for effective training of residents, visitors and volunteers.
As of September 2019 there are 49 parents and 85 children living at the VFW National Home in Eaton Rapids, Michigan.
The National Home’s community is open to the families of active-duty military personnel, veterans and relatives of VFW and VFW Auxiliary members. The family can be one or both parents with one or more children.
If you know a family that could use our services, please encourage them to call 800-313-4200 or contact us through our website.