Music from the 1950s and ’60s played as about 20 veterans were served cake at the monthly birthday party at Bill Nichols State Veterans Home on Friday.

American Red Cross of Central Alabama hosts monthly birthday parties on the fourth Friday of the month and gave out cake and ice cream Friday.

Resident James Fain celebrated his 90th birthday Oct. 1. He served in counterintelligence during the Korean War and attributes living to 90 by taking care of himself when he was young.

“I had my teeth cleaned every year,” Fain said. “I have all my teeth right now and being able to live a rich full life (has gotten me to 90).”

Bill Nichols director of recreational services Shonda Young said the American Red Cross has put on the monthly event for five years.

“I’m pretty sure the gentlemen here enjoy the ice cream and the American (Red Cross) actually provides for them,” Young said. “So you have socialization, stimulation and recreation all together.”

American Red Cross volunteer Mazelle Moon said the veterans seem to enjoy the monthly event and she likes seeing them smile.

“Sometimes (volunteers) sit down and we talk to them and they tell us about the branch of services they were in, how many years they were in the service and if they have any family members who might be in,” Moon said. “They just love to talk about being in the military.”

U.S. Army veteran Pat Cummins said she likes getting cake and ice cream once a month. She sings along to the music at every party.

“I like to come because you look around you see all the people, (have) camaraderie and fun, meet your special friends and chat,” Cummins said.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps veteran Thomas Daniel Davis attends all the birthday parties to meet other residents.

“I like to hang out with the veterans,” Davis said. “Everybody shares their story.”

U.S. Air Force veteran and vice president of the resident council Mark Wrulewski attends the birthday parties to support other residents. 

“It’s good to brighten someone’s day,” Moon said. “To me it’s very important because you are helping somebody. Just because they’re in a facility like this doesn’t mean you can’t come in and help them enjoy life and teach them to enjoy life.”

Young said other groups like the Elks Lodge provide bingo and the Disabled American Veterans holds programs on Memorial and Veterans days.

“It does boost the morale because like I said you have these organizations coming in, sharing their time and sharing whatever gift they have with them,” Young said. “They enjoy spending time with different people.”