Senator Alesi Presents Local Legionnaire With Two Presidential Service Awards

James S. Alesi

January 16, 2008

Senator Jim Alesi (R- Perinton), joined by the East Rochester Memorial American Legion Post 1917, yesterday presented local veteran Ralph Chinelly with two of the nations most prestigious service awards; The President's Gold Volunteer Service Award and The President's Lifetime Call to Service Award.

"It seems like just yesterday we were all gathered here to celebrate Ralph's induction in the inaugural class of the Senate Veterans Hall of Fame." said Senator Alesi. "Here we are today bestowing two of the nations highest service awards to a man who has dedicated his life to helping his fellow veterans. As long as I've known Ralph he has been very humble about his volunteer work. I can not think of a more deserving man for this honor. Mr. Chinelly served our Nation, our State, and our local community with great honor, and for that we are eternally grateful."

To encourage and recognize outstanding volunteer service and inspire others to volunteer, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation created the President’s Volunteer Service Award. These Awards honor those Americans who have made serving a central part of their lives and show that when you help your neighbor, you are helping your nation.

Awards are given to individuals 15 and older who have completed 100 or more hours; and to families or groups who have completed 200 or more hours. The President's Gold Volunteer Service Award recognizes those adults who have completed 500 or more hours.

Lifetime achievement is recognized with a special President's Call to Service Award, which honors those who have provided more than 4,000 hours of service over the course of their lifetime. Despite his blindness, Mr. Chinelly has continued to be an vigorous advocate on behalf of the veterans of New York State.

Ralph Chinelly is a recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. Along with being recognized as the first inductee to the NYS Senate "Veterans Hall of Fame" (Senator Alesi 2005), Mr. Chinelly was also awarded the American Legion East Rochester Post "Humanitarian of the Year" in November of 2005 and the Monroe County and District 7 American Legion "Humanitarian of the Year" in 2006.

While serving in the Army during World War II, Mr. Chinelly was assigned to Medical Depot, at Thomson General Hospital. His duties were to assist in the rehabilitation of amputees and paraplegics, along with fitting them with prosthesis to improve their quality of life. After his discharge in 1946, Ralph joined the American Legion at his local post and now holds the office of Veterans Affairs Officer and Post Trustee. He is an active member of the Blind Veterans Association.

Although the war ended, Mr. Chinelly's deep commitment for helping other veterans carried on for nearly two decades where he dedicated a majority of his time to volunteer service aiding his fellow veterans. Mr. Chinelly, a disabled blind veteran himself, has been instrumental in assisting numerous veterans to obtain basic life necessities, including seeing eye dogs, portable lung machines, walkers and canes, and prescription medications.

Since first elected as a State Legislator, Senator Alesi has championed many Veteran causes including regularly securing State funds for every VFW and American Legion Post in his district, renaming a portion of Macedon Center Road as the POW-MIA Memorial Highway, renaming a large portion of Route 441 as the Korean War Memorial Highway, and securing State funds, used locally to build the Vietnam Memorial, the WWII Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial.

Most recently, Senator Alesi's bill to name the bridge over Scottsville-Chili Road (State Route 386) after Private First Class James E. Widener, who was declared Missing in Action when his helicopter crashed while on a mission to the Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam, was signed into law.