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Volunteers make a difference for veterans

Renata C. Newell, a middle school student from Dallas and a native of Bryansk, Russia, helped bridge the generation gap and enriched the lives of veterans at the Community Living Center at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Plains Township. Newell, 13, was among nearly 100 volunteers between the ages of 12 and 18 who dedicated 4,723 hours of their time and talents at the center through the Summer Youth Volunteer Program. Newell made a special connection with Basil ‘Val’ Balaker before his death at age 90 on Nov. 19. Balaker was a highly decorated United States Air Force colonel and a CLC resident of Russian descent. The two shared a fondness for the Russian language and memories of the country. Newell chats with Balaker in Russian during one of her visits.

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