Paramus Veterans Poker Project

This isn't something you would usually see on here, but my dad and his friends did a really cute good deed that I thought I should share.

The following is an article I wrote about it for a local magazine...

Bill Voigt and his friends are living every college-aged kid’s dream. They are avid poker players who play in a weekly game together on Fridays and take a yearly trip to Vegas together.

Fully aware of this hobby, Bill’s sister-in-law Eileen Bellew informed him of group of veterans who play poker together at the Paramus Veterans Home. You can find them in the rec room on Fridays at 7:00 or “any night that there isn’t bingo” playing Seven Card Stud. They were having trouble enjoying the game with obstacles including an old worn out table that was falling apart in the middle and limited accessibility for their wheelchairs. Following an unsuccessful search for a table that could accommodate their needs, Bill brought the concern up to his poker buddies who were more than happy to help a fellow league out.

The lineup Voigt assembled included Al Azouri, Bill Schweizer, and Mike Kelly. Each friend had a different background and set of skills to bring to the table. Al, along with Mike did the majority of the construction and design. Bill Schweizer, himself a former Marine, provided much of the wood along with the use of some specialized tools.  Bill Voigt did some sanding and provided some comic relief, but simply considers himself the “idea man”.

The table needed to fit specific criteria, which made the process quite intricate. An octagonal shape was deemed best fit because of its ease of reach, which is already limited when seated in a wheelchair. Further assisting reach, a custom felt was made for the cards to slide over, completed with each of the five seals of the branches of military (thanks to Mike Kelly)  The table also utilized hydraulics, being able to raise and lower as wheelchairs slide in and out.

Although it was only a few men doing the manual part of the project, the rest of the “Ramsey Poker League” rallied together and collected money for the table at their weekly games.

Five months of hard work later, the gang took a trip on a rainy Saturday to the Paramus Veteran’s Home for the big reveal.  Interacting with the staff of the home during their wait brought to light the significance of what they were about to unveil. The veterans had been looking forward to this for months and were excited the day was finally here.  

As the veterans entered the room the looks on their faces is something that will stay with the guys forever.  The table provided exactly what they needed and was nicer than they could have imagined.  Within minutes a game was under way and the veterans, all great friends, reminded the Ramsey team of themselves. It was great to see that cracking jokes, making fun of one another and enjoying each other’s company does not diminish with age. And if any group of people deserve to enjoy themselves, it’s this group of WWII vets.