Virginia Veterans Care Center Benefits from Board Members’ COVID-19 Response

April 26, 2021

On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, Ms. Renee Tabb, the purchasing specialist at the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center located on Broad Rock Blvd. in Richmond, VA, took delivery of 4 gallons of badly needed hand sanitizer, stating, “Our residents and staff will benefit directly from your generosity!” This was not just any sanitizer, however – this particular sanitizer was manufactured and donated by The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery in Hampton VA, and its delivery was made possible by a few special people associated with the Virginia Board of Veterans Services (BVS), the Virginia War Memorial Foundation (VWMF) Board, and the former Virginia War Memorial (VWM) Board.

In response to Governor Northam’s Executive Order 51 regarding COVID-19, Virginia ABC issued an emergency order, authorizing Virginia distillers to manufacture and distribute alcohol-based sanitizer. The Vanguard President, Mr. Randy Thomas, jumped at the opportunity and began sourcing ingredients specified by the World Health Organization recipe. After finding reliable supplies of hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, sourcing other materials that could be distilled into purified alcohol became the challenge. That’s when BVS and VWMF Board member Kathy P. Owens sprang to action. Ms. Owens, also a partner at The Vanguard, reached out to fellow VWMF Board member Mr. Bob Archer, President of Blue Ridge Beverage Co., located in Salem, VA, with a request to acquire expired beer in order to distill it into alcohol for the sanitizer. Mr. Archer connected Ms. Owens with Mr. Ryland Thomas with Tri-Cities Beverage Co., located in Newport News, VA, who was quick to identify over 1,000 kegs of defective beer in his warehouse. Former VWM Board member and Virginia State Senator Bill DeSteph was instrumental in working with Virginia ABC officials for an accelerated approval of the transfer and, within a week, The Vanguard was converting the expired product into purified alcohol for the sanitizer.

The Vanguard also provides direct-to-consumer sales of sanitizer in an array of various-sized spray bottles. Dollar Tree stores had the best quality and selection of sizes and the Vanguard staff spent weeks visiting local Hampton Roads stores and depleting their stocks. This caused sporadic availability to local consumers, hospitals, health care facilities, and first responders. Ms. Owens then reached out to her friend and U.S. Navy colleague, Mr. Bob Gantt, Vice President of Facilities and Special Projects at Dollar Tree, and pleaded The Vanguard’s case for a bulk purchase of bottles. Mr. Gantt immediately found a solution and was able to coordinate a bulk order with Mr. Harry Thetford and Mr. Mark Adams, who then managed the speedy fulfillment. The Vanguard now has a steady supply of spray sanitizer for the community, thanks to their friends at Dollar Tree.

In appreciation for their assistance in making this possible, The Vanguard donated four gallons of sanitizer to the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center, one each on behalf of Senator Bill DeSteph, Mr. Bob Archer, Tri-Cities Beverage Co., and Dollar Tree.