DUPONT — Getting around just got a little easier for Bernie Zielinski.
Thanks to a program through the American Veterans of Pennsylvania, Zielinski, 85, was given a 2010 Jazzy 600 motorized scooter.
Bernie McDonald, Army veteran and state commander of the AMVETS, was on hand Friday to present Zielinski with the scooter.
A Dupont resident and borough council member, Zielinski served in the Coast Guard from 1950-53 as a cook stationed at the Great Lakes near the Canadian border.
“We had turkey, t-bone steak and lobster on Fridays,” he said of his Coast Guard days. “We ate good. It was the best food in the world and I was allowed to buy anything I wanted.”
Zielinski has also planted trees in the Dupont Memorial Park.
McDonald said the program that donates scooters was started by the Sons of AMVETS six years ago.
“They did it as a project for one year and that’s how it got started,” he said. “We give the scooter to a veteran who is starting to have a hard time getting around. The only stipulation is that the scooter comes back to the AMVETS and we give it to another veteran. It’s a program that just keeps giving from one veteran to another.”
Zielinski’s scooter was donated by Eileen Weitz, of Tunkhannock, whose husband Howard, a Korean War veteran, passed away in 2010.
“Eileen’s son got in touch with me because he knows I do this kind of thing,” said AMVETS member Rod Sovenson. “He said they had a real nice electric mobility chair and his mother didn’t want to give it away unless it was given away to a veteran. So, I went up and got it and we had to do a little work to get it ready.”
McDonald said up to 15 scooters have been donated by individuals and companies, and there will be more donated in the near future.
Zielinski thinks it will take time to get used to his new set of wheels, but he’s thankful he was considered to receive such a thoughtful donation.
“I was surprised and shocked,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d be worth getting a scooter. I love the mobility and it’s going to get me around where I can’t go with my legs. I got my bones fused in the back of my knees, so I can’t walk without a cane in the house. This will get me around.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher