MASSENA -- John and Resa Wing have donated their half-million dollar St. Lawrence River estate to veterans’ charity Operation Grateful Nation.
The gift, at 407 State Rt. 131 and appraised at $525,000, was part of a larger gift by the Wings, according to OGN spokesman Lindsay Ashmore.
Ashmore said they not only gave the property to OGN for exclusive use by veterans, “but also exquisitely furnished the home and provided everything the veterans need. There’s a beautiful heated swimming pool, sauna, five bedrooms, multiple flat screen TVs, sound system, boat dock, a new pontoon boat equipped for wheelchair use, kayaks, and everything else the troops need and deserve. The Wings also pay the operating costs privately, with no costs to OGN or the veterans.”
“The OGN property has become a cornerstone of our ability to serve veterans in the North Country,” said Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures President Bob Giordano.
“It provides the best housing and recreational facilities most of them have ever seen,” Giordano said.
The Wings met with many veterans’ representatives “to insure that the property was the perfect place for those who have given so much. We are booked solidly into the future with veterans seeking to get their feet back under them by enjoying the beautiful north country,” he said.
Don Meissner, spokesperson for St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce’s FISHCAP program, said, “John Wing came here last fall to meet with us. We discussed how to integrate their property, dedicated to veterans, into our broader outdoor experience. We will honor veterans at our first major bass tournament this August, and the OGN property will provide the perfect venue. We will have veterans not only from Ft. Drum, but from around the world seeing first-hand how much we respect their service and sacrifice.”
Donor John Wing is a 90-percent disabled Vietnam vet.
“He’s never let that stop him from trying anything in life, and has a long list of mentors who helped him along the way,” said co-donor Resa Wing. “He does the same for current vets, addressing each veteran’s needs, problems and develops their potential to build a new life. We created and support OGN principally because it provides careers, education, housing and other lifelong necessities for disabled veterans. But in this case we decided to focus on creating both a healing and enjoyable interlude for our veterans.”
She said the riverfront property is “a place they can reunite with nature and their families, and then move on.
“We thank Bob and Don for helping us get this moving, and we hope veterans groups, the educational community, the faith based community, local businesses and the public will help this effort grow and prosper.”
“We are a better country than we’ve shown our veterans,” said John Wing. “Waiting years for veterans services from our government is inexcusable; sadly it’s the norm. We all need to help these kids. Many folks don’t know where to start. Well, this is a great place to take a first step.”