RESERVE, LA (WAFB) - He said he didn't serve in the military, but you'd never know it. One visit with Maitland "Spuddy" Faucheux, III, will make you feel so patriotic you'll want to enlist that day!
Spuddy's dad, a U.S. Army vet from the Korean War, lives in the Southeast War Veteran's Home in Reserve, Louisiana. He has Alzheimer's disease.
"Does your daddy still recognize you?" I recently asked Spuddy.
"Not at all," he replied. "Probably the last four years, he doesn't have a clue who I am."
I met Spuddy one afternoon at his restaurant in Vacherie, Spuddy's Cajun Foods. Spuddy spoke of his father with incredible pride and admiration. And of other war veterans he's come to know and love in his years volunteering at the home.
"This generation was all about sacrifice," Spuddy explained. "They were about sacrificing for their country and respect for the authority of their country. They really had a lot of pride at what the United States stood for, something I see going away in the United States today."
The disappointment was noticeable in his voice.
His goal is to keep that pride alive by volunteering his time, talents and gifts at the Southeast Louisiana War Veteran's Home.
The recreational therapist at the home, Sonya Hebert, said Spuddy visits the home daily without fail.
"The first time you meet Spuddy, you can't help but just love him," Sonya's warm smile reflected that sentiment. "He doesn't pass a veteran without a hand shake. He doesn't pass 'em without a hug."
"Every time we call Spuddy, if we're having an event, he's always 'What can I do? I'm there. Tell me what you need.' And he brings it."
Sonya talked about how veterans all around the home light up when they see Spuddy.
"He's just a joy and he's just a bright spot in all of their lives. We've actually taken the veterans. He treats them like royalty in his restaurant." Sonya explained that Spuddy never makes them pay for anything.
Spuddy has one rule on his daily visits to the home.
"I pull up to the home and I turn the key off and I say a prayer," said Spuddy. His face warm and sincere. "I say, let all my problems stay in this truck. Any issues I have in life stay in this truck. When I go in that home, it's all positive. That's my rule. Cause every person in that home has issues. They don't need mine."
Wow. Couldn't we all learn from that example when dealing with others?
Spuddy's sister-in-law Christie Crooks has been speaking with me for four months about him. She wanted to find a way to spotlight Spuddy with Hand It On. Christie and I agreed how special it would be to recognize Spuddy at the Veteran's Day celebration at the home itself. And that's exactly what we did on November 11, 2015.
Spuddy was first to arrive and last to leave that day. Bands played. Craft tents were set up everywhere. Then the St. John Parish Veteran's Day parade rolled into the parking lot from their trip that started on Airline Highway in LaPlace.
Once everyone was seated, the opening prayer given, after the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance, Spuddy's sister-in-law Christie took the stage and summoned Spuddy.
"Four months ago, I nominated you for WAFB Channel 9's Hand It On award," Christie said.
As Christie handed Spuddy our cash award, tears filled his eyes.
"I do this from my heart," Spuddy's voice quivered as he took the mic. "These men and women in this home sacrificed for us. So my dad's in this home. He doesn't know me. My way of giving back is to try and make everybody happy in this home. And that's my goal every day that I come here."
Well Spuddy, you do make everybody happy. But not just at the Southeast Louisiana War Veteran's Home in Reserve. You make everybody happy that ever comes in contact with you anywhere. My hope is more and more people can experience the gift of earnest love and genuine concern for his fellow man that I felt when I got to know Maitland "Spuddy" Faucheux, III.
To nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On segment, send a detailed email to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information including phone number.
Oh, and if you're ever driving through Vacherie on LA-20, stop by Spuddy's Cajun Foods. I assure you, you'll leave with much more fulfillment than just a satisfied belly!