PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The best part of Thanksgiving, besides eating turkey, is spending time with family. However, there are many seniors in Tampa Bay who live far away from loved ones. That’s where Jim Blincoe steps in.
Blincoe may have retired from the Navy, but he continues to serve his community every week, volunteering his time to visit residents of Suncoast Hospice, especially fellow veterans who came before him.
“We need to make sure that they all know what they did and how much we appreciate it,” said Blincoe. “No recognition for many of these people, they just came back from the war and they got off the train and they just went back to work.”
This week he visited with Korean War veteran and Bronze Star recipient Philip Ames. Blincoe is honoring him for all his years of service.
“Well it means everything it really does,” said Philip’s sister Linda Verbinski. “So appreciative for him to do this. It’s very, very heartwarming.”
The pinning ceremony is something Jim has done for dozens of veterans over the years, where he pins an “Empath Honors” button onto the vet’s shirt. He says it means just as much for him, as it does for them.
“That's like sitting with a pro football team because all of those men and women are real honest to God heroes,” said Blincoe. “They’re in my hall of fame, every one of them, and we’re losing them every day.”
This year his volunteerism was recognized on a national scale. Out of hundreds of veterans across the country, National Hospice presented him with the "We Honor Veterans" award.
“He was the perfect person to win that award because he’s a very modest guy but he’s always the one you can call with any unique, special, volunteer request, he always steps up to the plate,” said Melissa More, Director of Volunteer Services with Empath Health.
Blincoe said during these visits, especially around the holidays, he really does feel like he’s part of the residents’ family.
“And they feel like I’m family too. It’s just an automatic bond,” said Blincoe.