Category Archives: Our Donors

May Update

The month of May was a busy one, planting the gardens and signing up new volunteers. Our veterans, staff, and volunteers completed the planting of our gardens and pumpkin/squash patch, and the seeds are poppin!  Each morning George and I take a golf cart ride to inspect the gardens; this is all new to George and he is fascinated by the progress.

The Zion ROTC graduates are some of the volunteers who help out at the farm.  We welcome the interaction with our future military and our veterans; these young men and women get first hand knowledge what the military is really like, and what sacrifices they will make before and after service.  One of the highest honors a person can achieve in life is to be able to say is that he or she is a veteran, and these young men and women experience this before they enter the service by interacting with our veterans, here on the farm.

The article in last month’s Lake County Journal said that I would be leaving to work to fund this program. Well, I’m still here. Funding is still a big issue, but somehow we will prevail. Though my leaving would solve the funding issue, the programs would suffer while I was away. I cannot leave our veterans if that means our service to them will diminish. Our veterans have given us the right to live free and safe, so we MUST and WILL give them whatever they need to lead productive and enjoyable lives. After all, isn’t that what they fought for, too?

The Tavern League of Kenosha County voted to support the farm, and did so with a generous monetary donation. They are also supporting our July 15th poker run by selling our dollar discs. We are having more made and will keep spreading them out.  Thank all of you who have supported the Freedom Farm by donating in this way.

I am now asking everyone reading this to pledge a dollar to our cause. For less than the cost of a newspaper, you can help our veterans and their families enjoy a healthy and prosperous life, like the one they made it possible for the rest of us.

Remember: The highest honor a person can achieve in their lifetime is to be called a veteran.

Thank you all,


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April Update

Welcome to the farm in April! Things are picking up, and activity for the spring is getting in motion.

Our biggest excitement this month came with veteran Terry Landwehr’s appearance on the ice during the national anthem at the first Chicago Blackhawk playoff game, April 17, 2012!  As a Vietnam veteran, Terry has been active at the farm since last year. We are so grateful to the USO of IL and Mr Jim Michael for setting up this honor for Terry. Without people like Mr. Michael and the USO, we wouldn’t have been able to honor him as we did! Congratulations Terry… it was great to watch! Pictures of Terry are at the farm for all of you to see.

The gardens have been made ready for planting at the end of the month and the grass has been cut several times to use as mulch. The seeds have been donated by Graylake Feed in Grayslake, IL, and the diagram for the garden planting is complete. Come on good weather!! We are ready!! Anyone interested can come out to help us. Call and ask about the day for planting and we will work around the rain as best we can.

Our farm was highlighted in the Lake County Journal in their April 26th issue! We want to thank Jen Billock for the informative article and photographer Candace Johnson for her great pictures. The article can be accessed on line and we truly appreciate the great job that they did letting everyone know that we are here to help all veterans and their families. Look for more articles coming through the summer as the farm comes into full swing with garden work, activities, and animal antics.

Please keep in mind that the Poker Run is gearing up for July. Get your friends together to enjoy a beautiful ride through the northern or southern route, whichever you choose – and be ready for fun and prizes! We want to make this event a big success, so come and join us for a great time!

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February Update

The false spring has brought the gardeners out; seems like a little sun and warm wind gets everyone itchy to plant. Still too early, so some of the guys are going to begin starting plants indoors. They should be ready to go in the ground when the temperature in the soil is right. We plan on tightening up the rows this year which will increase the yield, and with the demand going up we are going to plant more.

We helped a few more of our veterans with furniture and furnishings, and even did a few pick up and deliveries. If you have extra furniture, linens, dishes, etc. that a family could use feel free to contact us – we can put it to good use. The only thing we ask is that we want items in good to excellent condition. Remember who it’s for, and what they deserve.

Good news, our veteran in South Carolina is now on track with the local V.A. in getting the help he needs coping with the bouts of depression. Working through other agencies is what we do to help veterans throughout the country, this is the key to getting our veterans and service members the help they need.

We have set the date for this year’s poker run, we look forward to having you ride along.

With the days getting longer the animals are out longer and much more active.The activity will pick up on the weekends, so bring the kids and stop by and say Hi – we look forward to seeing you on the farm!

Thank you goes out to Steve Olson Printing and Design for all their hard work in printing our flyers and business cards. Steve’s expertise in this field has been greatly appreciated. Thanks again Steve.


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2012 Fundraiser Poker Run




Food, Fun, Raffles, Silent Auction and 1st, 2nd, 3rd place best hand money.

Motorcycles & Custom / Classic Cars 

Sign up 10:00am – 12:00pm

$15.00 per driver / $10.00 per passenger

Both of the two runs will end at Lily Lake Resort in Wheatland, Wisconsin 

Last Bike or Car in at 5:00pm

“North Run”

  • Lily Lake Resort (Start & Finish)
  • Wagner’s
  • Deadmans Saloon (Formerly Wildlife Refuge)
  • Mustang Shelly’s Roadhouse
  • The DMZ Bunker
  • Bobby Rockets

“South Run”

  • Fatman Pizza Pub (Start)
  • R&R Crossing (Russell, Ill)
  • Hawg Heaven
  • C’mon Inn
  • Bobbies Barrel Inn
  • Lily Lake Resort (End)


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January Update

We started the new year delivering furniture to a couple of our veterans in need. It seems that the need for help in this area is growing as the hard economy prevents our veterans on fixed incomes from being able to get or replace worn out home furnishings. Donations of home furnishings would be welcome as long as they are not worn out – slightly used or outdated is OK.

Looking back at last year’s programs, I am pleased with the response and accomplishments. Our staff helped veterans resolve health issues, acquire home furnishing items, we delivered produce to our local food pantry, and we supplied good will and gifts (including roses and decorated pumpkins) to the veterans in the V.A. hospital in North Chicago.

I’m grateful for all the support we received from our corporate and private donors. I would like to give a special thanks to Marty Cornett (my li’l sister) for being the “Rose Lady” this year and giving such a warm personal touch to this program. Additionally I’d like to thank her for the gracious donation of $10,000 to the Freedom Farm.  Her gift will keep the insurance paid and assist in the fuel costs incurred in making our deliveries.  This financial and personal support for our veterans and active military is what the Freedom Farm is all about.  Please join her in supporting the farm.

The plans for the 2nd annual poker run have been finalized, (July 15th 2012).  We will be having a Northern Illinois run and a Southern Wisconsin run with both ending at the same location.  The entry will be $15.00 per rider and $10.00 per passenger at this year’s event.  Raffles, food, prizes and a silent action will take place on the run.  Watch the web site for route information and additional details – hope to see you there!

The garden program will be starting soon.  It’s time to start the seedlings and get the tillers ready to go.  The frost in the ground is little to none, so with a bit of luck we can get the gardens in early.  Times being what they are, we can use all the produce we can grow.

There has been some confusion as to who we consider a veteran.  To the Freedom Farm family, any individual who has completed boot camp and been given a duty station is considered a veteran (reserve or active). YOU and your family have made the commitment to put yourself in harm’s way for us, and we at the Freedom Farm thank you for your service and sacrifice.  We’ll do whatever you need us to do to help or assist you in your lives, before, during, and after your service.

Thanks again to our supporters, donors, and especially to our veterans and their families.

John Ress

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December Update

December was a quiet month on the farm, however we were still busy helping our veterans. We delivered a bed to a veteran who came upon some rough times and helped another one in South Carolina with the same. 

We made Christmas ornaments for our veterans at the V.A. who were unable to make it home for the holidays. These ornaments were designed by Frank Ress Sr. and made for his children when we were all very young.  We had many happy holidays enjoying them on the tree. Hoping to bring a little holiday cheer to those in need, we reproduced these ornaments, which were hand delivered with a smile by our Rose Lady “Marty” (one of the kids who got to enjoy the originals). 

This month also saw us sending out our first mass fund raising mailing. This effort was underwritten by:

  • Petersen Excavating
  • Kaisers Pub
  • The Shanty
  • Bobby’s Barrel Inn
  • Central Rug & Carpet

We would like to thank these businesses for taking time during the busy holiday season to help the Freedom Farm raise the funds needed to keep our programs up and running.

We look forward to serving our veterans and families in the coming year, and hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season.

Take care,

John Ress

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September Update

September’s garden production was fairly good despite the days of heavy rain. Most gardens had trouble this year but it didn’t seem to affect us very much due to the newspaper and grass combination we use for mulch. The soil doesn’t get washed away with the hard rains, and when the rain is over the moisture stays put. This method has allowed us to produce larger and healthier plants, and it also increases the yield by 25%.

We have donated in excess of 1000 lbs. so far this season to the Most Blessed Trinity food pantry on 8th and Lincoln in Waukegan. They have been hit hard by this economy and they have not received as much government help as in previous years, so they are extremely glad when they see us at their door. It looks like they might get two more deliveries from us this season before we’ll be done for the year, thanks to all those who helped with this year’s garden program.

Our Rose Memorial Program got off to a great start this year. My sister Marty became our Rose Lady, and to date she has brightened the days of 51 of our Veterans hospitalized at the James Lovell V.A. Her larger than life laugh can brighten up anyone’s day, and the personal touch she adds with each delivery touches the hearts of those she sees.

Next year we will be taking the photos for the dedication plaques. In the first season a rose is planted, it takes most of the summer for the plant to get established and start producing. The following summer the bush will be more mature and full for the photo.

The Medical Referral Program has started out very well, with all participants getting the help they need. We have helped one Veteran get a scooter that he needed, and we also found him a transport van. We’re in the process of helping another Veteran try to get his discharge status changed and have him signed up to receive his V.A. Medical Coverage. We’re also helping more Veterans to get their service connection status changed, which will allow them to receive the benefits for which they’re entitled.

These are some of the ways program operates, and with the help of the GREAT staff at the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission, to things get done. Thanks to all for a job well done!

We’ve had many visitors benefit from the stress relief provided by our peaceful setting and friendly staff (and animals). It’s amazing the calming effect that a 1400 lb horse can have on someone.

Sometimes we’re even blessed with music played by one of our regulars. Playing and singing is this Veteran’s way to relax, and the farm setting provides the perfect atmosphere.

We have a saying here, “If you don’t try, you don’t do”, so if you’re looking help or you’re looking to give we will be glad to assist you in any way we can.


  • To Linda Benge for donating her time to create our logo. Linda worked very hard to help us create a logo that best represents our project. Thanks again, Linda.
  • To Barb Karacic from the Most Blessed Trinity Food Pantry. Without her help and support we would have never gotten our project off the ground.

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