The Golden Prairie Honey Farms (GPHF) is an inspirational and supportive organization located in Manhattan, KS, and I had the opportunity to serve with them earlier this month.

As a part of the SAVE (Servicemember Agricultural Vocation Education) Program, the Golden Prairie Honey Farms helps to transition service members and veterans by providing jobs that are sensitive to their needs. Some veterans struggle with PTSD and have problems finding stable employment due to high sensitivity to sudden or repetitive loud noises, and/or stressful situations. GPHF gives these veterans a peaceful environment where they can work without the fear of being rejected or discarded and provides a constructive outlet and helps them to cope with their anxiety while learning new skills as they begin a new stage of their lives.

I was in a group of nine youth volunteers with Youth Volunteer Corps of Manhattan, hosted by the Flint Hills Volunteer Center. Our task for the project was to create wooden toolboxes made from a handle piece, a base piece, two side pieces, and two wall pieces. These toolboxes are very similar to the ones that the GPHF staff and veterans use to work on the honey bee enclosures.

We had three stations to go through in the process of creating these toolboxes. At the first station, we made the walls and side pieces of the toolbox by using a circular saw. At the next station, we used a router to smooth and round the handle. Finally, at the third station, we assembled our toolboxes using glue and a staple gun.

With my experience with the Golden Prairie Honey Farms, I have come to a greater understanding of veterans and their problems outside of the military. It is sad to know that veterans, having done so much for our country, are being cast aside after giving up most of their young lives to the safety of our nation. With this in mind, the GPHF has become a beacon of hope and inspiration for those veterans who wish to reenter the workforce. The current veterans working at the GPHF are very encouraging people. They have shown true triumph in the stories that they told us during our visit. They deeply care about the lives of the people who leave the military, having gone through tough situations themselves.

I have a father who just retired from the U.S. Army, so I know the feeling of being terrified every time he leaves for deployment. Questions such as, “Is he going to come back? Will he be the same? Will I even recognize him?” burst into my mind every time he left. However, I always had hope that he would come home safely. This is what the Golden Prairie Honey Farms stands for, hope. The GPHF exudes hope from every aspect pertaining to it.

For this very reason, I decided to volunteer at the GPHF the very next day. I volunteered for about three hours and helped create frames for beehives. I started by using two lengthwise pieces and two widthwise pieces. I used a couple of jigs, glue and screws to assemble them. Overall, I made five beehive frames for the GPHF.

The nicest part, while I was volunteering, was the staff’s courtesy. I felt at peace in the GPHF and I am continuing to volunteer there to give any help I can to the people who help our veterans return to normal lives. The Golden Prairie Honey Farms is without a doubt an awe-inspiring opportunity to give back to those who sacrifice so much in order for us to live happy and carefree lives. My appreciation and respect for the Golden Prairie Honey Farms reaches no limit, as well as the care and passion the Golden Prairie Honey Farms shows our veterans.

This guest blog post was submitted by Matthew Delashmit, a youth volunteer with of YVC of Manhattan.

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