Director's Corner

Director's Corner
By Sam Lauricella

Nearly all of the volunteer assignments, which are typically available through Project Emeritus, involve the volunteer being placed in a working situation alongside of active duty or federal civil service staff. The goal of this arrangement is to allow the volunteer to take on moderate job responsibilities such as answering the telephone, taking messages, greeting customers; thereby freeing the full-time staff to tend to critical activities. The one exception to this arrangement is one that I wish to highlight in this column -- a work assignment that operates solely off of volunteers.

Each year, from February until April, a team of approximately 28 volunteers work the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service, otherwise known as VITA. VITA is a jointly sponsored program of the Patrick AFB Legal Office, the United Way and Project Emeritus. The Legal Office arranges for the physical space and telephone service necessary for the team to perform federal and state income tax returns for active duty, DOD civilians and the retired military community. The United Way provides support with computer equipment and a Wi-Fi connection to the Internet for the electronic submission of tax returns. Project Emeritus recruits, trains and places the volunteers who work on the VITA team.

The VITA team is headed by retired Lieutenant Commander Don Winterich, of the United States Navy, who has functioned in the lead position for some ten years. Don's VITA team is composed of approximately 17 tax preparers and 10 receptionists who function out of the Patrick AFB Shark Center. Starting sometime in the fall, all of the staff will go through training, either conducted or arranged by Don, to update skills necessary to function in the following year's tax preparation season.

During tax season, the VITA team works with clients Monday through Friday, mornings and afternoons, primarily by prearranged appointments. During the remainder of the year, Don and others are available in the Patrick AFB Legal Office to assist in the preparation of tax returns that might have missed the April 15 deadline, or ones that need to be resubmitted for any other reason.

During this past tax preparation period, Feb. 1 through April 15, 2017, the team e-filed 1,433 federal tax returns, prepared 60 paper federal returns and 96 state income tax returns all for the 2016 tax year. They also prepared fifteen (15) 2015 federal tax returns. As you can see, the total number of client returns completed was just over 1,600. Since this is a no charge service, the estimated savings to clients serviced was approximately $435,000 or $271 per return.

The VITA team is always in need of additional volunteers. Since you don't need a military ID to access the Shark Center, the VITA accepts volunteers from both those who have a military ID to gain access to the installation, as well as those who do not. For those who might be interested in becoming part of the VITA, we invite you to contact Project Emeritus at 321-494-7656, or email, so we can work with you to become part of the team next year.

The following served with the 2017 VITA:

John Abbott, Doug Black, Liz Braun, Preston Creech, Nancy Creech, Carl Giuffrem, Ann Giuffre, Stacie Gosnell, Terry Horner, Lyn Hupfer, Don Hurley, Marcella Johnson, Tracy Lewis, Gary Little, Dan McCorvey, Jerry Meyer, Adrienne Meyer, Licia Mueller, Eleanor Nash-Schulze, Carl Notter, Gail Pemberton, Chuck Rikli, Bob Rorich, Marion Rorich, Chalice Thompson, Don Winterich, and Bob Yonker.


Updated on July 11, 2017



Project Emeritus

Volunteer Resource Program ManagerProject Emeritus is provided as a service to the Patrick AFB community in the interest of promoting public service through volunteerism. The presence of this information in no way implies endorsement, preference or obligation by the U.S. Air Force or its personnel toward any external organization. To inform the volunteer resource program manager of volunteer opportunities, email 


A Brief History

Early documents indicate that John Heronimous, a USAF retiree working in the Retiree Activities Office (RAO) in the late 1980s or early 1990s, was the originator of Project Emeritus. 

Supposedly, Heronimous had previously set up a similar program in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (records do not indicate which military installation was involved). The concept of involving retired military personnel and/or their spouses as base volunteers was supported by USAF retired Col. Don Clark, then RAO supervisor and his assistant, Art Fetskos. Two volunteers were assigned the task of calling retirees to ask if they would be interested. Heronimous brought in his own computer and this was the beginning.

The original document of organization, establishing what today is Project Emeritus, was titled The Emeritus Program Eastern Space and Missile Center Charter. The charter was approved by USAF retired Col. John R. Worthington, Eastern Space and Missile Center commander, Aug. 15, 1990. Signing as co-directors of the Emeritus Program were USAF retired Brig. Gen. William J. Crandall, and USAF retired Col. Joseph LaPanna and is when Project Emeritus was considered to official launch. 

Leadership of the program began with the May 1, 1990 appointment of LaPanna as the first director of Project Emeritus. LaPanna held the assignment until Oct 1, 2006. Upon his retirement, the director's position was assumed by USAF retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold "Jerry" McAnulty, until March 31, 2010. USAR retired Col. Salvatore "Sam" Lauricella, is the current director as of April 1, 2009.

The number of retirees and their spouses enrolled as Project Emeritus volunteers in the past 20 years has varied from a reported high of 250 in the mid-1990s to the existing roster, June 2010, of nearly 155. A number of factors are thought to have contributed to this decrease in the number of volunteers and include: privatization of base work areas eliminating existing volunteer assignments; increased gas prices making is more costly for retirees residing at extreme distances from the base to travel to and from the base to perform volunteer duties; and an aging pool of retirees and spouses with medical conditions that often preclude volunteer participation. 

In a recent charter revision, however, Project Emeritus obtained Wing leadership approval to expand volunteer eligibility to include active-duty personnel, dependents, military veterans and civil service. The change is designed to attract a larger number of volunteers and allows individuals to complete community service hours in support of programs such as Florida's "Bright Futures" scholarships. 

During its 22-year history, Project Emeritus volunteers have been assigned to work in numerous base locations. In a July 21, 1994, a USAF press release (No. 94-77), citing the location of assignments, said, "You'll find them at the base's visitors' center, the commissary, the pharmacy, graphics and even the Cape's military traffic management command, where volunteers have been known to work 40-hour a week in support of Desert Storm/Desert Shield." 
More recently, Project Emeritus volunteers are likely to be assigned to the Airman's Attic, the ID office, the Chaplain's office, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service, the JA Office, the Director of Staff's office, the Fitness Center and the base golf course. 

Project Emeritus was initiated and developed as an augmented mission to support pilot programs that could be used as a prototype for establishing similar volunteer efforts at other USAF bases. Although Project Emeritus has received, and responded to numerous requests from other military installations for information regarding the project, to our knowledge no other base has to date initiated a volunteer program based on the Project Emeritus prototype. 

(Current as of July 2013)

Volunteers needed

Project Emeritus, a volunteer organization at Patrick AFB, is a program to solicit volunteers from the retired, active duty, dependents and civil service, to assist base personnel in mission support operations. Project Emeritus volunteers have been assigned to work at numerous base locations, including base personnel, the Wellness Center, the Visitor's Center and the Golf Course. Volunteers are used at Patrick AFB, Cape Canaveral and the Warbird Museum in Titusville. Volunteers give a minimum of four hours a week to support Team Patrick. Volunteers set their own schedules and select work in their area of interest or expertise. Many agencies on base are in need of assistance. 

Retired military (all services), active duty, dependents and civil service who are interested in volunteering four hours per week supporting the Air Force and the 45th Space Wing's mission can contact a volunteer coordinator at 321-494-7656, email, stop by 514 Falcon Rd, Building 415, Patrick AFB, Fla., 32925 or log on to Facebook.

· Designated parking at BX and Commissary
· Riverside Dining Facility privileges, guests are also welcome
· Community Involvement, networking
· Build experience, add to resume

Check here to fill out a Project Emeritus Application

Volunteer Opportunities

The following list are base agencies which utilize a number of volunteers but the demand of volunteers is not limited to:

Airman & Family Readiness Center
Airman's Attic
Auto Hobby Shop
Child Development Center
Civil Engineer/Safety Office
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI)
Golf Club 
Health and Wellness Center
Project Emeritus Office
Project Emeritus (Recruiting)
Retirees Activities Office

Project Emeritus Awards

The following have received the EAGLE AWARD, identifying them as having over 2500 hours of volunteer service at Patrick:

Retired SMSgt Art Fetskos

Retired Lt Col Louis Mentillo

Retired LCDR Don Winterich

Retired MSgt Pete Koch

Marlene Hatfield

Retired MAJ Shirley Osborne

Retired Lt Col Jerry Meyer

Retired Col John McDunnough

Retired Lt Col Ed Roscoe

Sara-Jane Victor

Retired CMSgt Larry Sherman

Retired CDR John England

Mary Doonan