Photos by Cathy Duffy.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Veterans & Community Housing Coalition (VCHC) recently hosted its Fourth Annual Veterans Ball at the Hall of Springs on Sunday, November 3. Over 400 attendees came in support of VCHC’s mission to serve local Veterans and their families with affordable housing and support services while they transition to independent living. The total raised at the Fourth Annual Veterans Ball was $60,000.
The evening’s highlights included Honorary Chair Ray O’Conor, LaSalle Institute’s JROTC Cadets, live music by The Joey Thomas Big Band, photo booth provided by Chuck Mossey Photography, chocolate fountain provided by We Do Fondue, décor provided by Fine Affairs, elaborate food stations and a fabulous silent auction.
A memorable highlight of the evening was a special tribute to area WWII Veterans who were each ceremoniously honored and presented with quilts tenderly made by The Sunday Sewing Sisters. The list of Honored WWII Veterans included:
Dom Scavia | 92 years old
U.S. Marine PFC, Marine Combat Swim Instructor,
Fleet Marine Force, Pacific Theater
GEORGE WILLAMS | 94 years old
U.S. Army PFC., 42nd Inf. “Rainbow” Div. Mortar Man. Landed on the Shores of France, marched through the Country to take Germany. Europe/Africa and German Campaigns. The Rainbow Division is known for Liberating Dachau Concentration Camp
Sir Ken Bailey | 97 years old
U.S. Army 4th Cavalry, Corporal, Driver for Commander in European Theatre, 5 Battle Stars, 1 Bronze Star. Battle of the Bulge, D-Day, Battle of Mortain
Cecily Geraghty | 99 years old
RAF England, on duty for all Pilots returning from Battle, Bomber Command Bebington, Wirral, Merseyside Cheshire England
George Sumersell | 95 years old
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class/ Pacific Theatre
Joe Vertichio |100 years old
United States Navy, USS Antietam Pacific Theater
Bob Elbertson | 94 years old
United States Navy 1944-1947, USS Blue Pacific Theater
A special feature of the evening was a tribute to local Veterans who served in different Branches and Conflicts. The list of Honored Veterans included:
Chief Sam Carpenter
Machinist Mate Master
United States Navy 1990 - 2013
Sergeant Ray Gagnon
United States Marine Corps
1983 - 2008
United States Marine Corps
2004 - 2012
United States Air Force 2001 - 2004
United Marine Corps 1967 - 1970
The evening also included a special tribute to the Saratoga-Wilton Elks for their continued service in going above and beyond to help the homeless Veterans served at VCHC. A very touching tribute was made by Veterans & Community Housing Coalition’s Executive Director, Cheryl Hage-Perez, to Lt. Colonel Todd J. Clark who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Lt. Colonel Clark was killed in action on his fourth tour of duty on June 8, 2013 in Afghanistan.
Cheryl Hage-Perez, Executive Director of Vet Help, commented, “This year’s Ball was a success due to the generosity of our community and the dedication of our committee. The proceeds will be used as a kick off campaign to build a duplex home for single, homeless Veteran moms with their children. There is no facility for them to get the help they need while transitioning. I have a sincere thank you to all of our sponsors, donors, guests, and volunteers.”
The Veterans & Community Housing Coalition provides housing and support services to homeless military veterans and their families, advocates on behalf of military Veterans and their families, and provides housing opportunities for low income households. Over 50,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in the United States. Nearly 600 homeless Veterans are in the Capital District. Veterans & Community Housing Coalition has made a commitment to help homeless Veterans attain and maintain permanent housing, achieve financial stability, have access to healthcare, and equally important, regain their dignity. The Programs of the Veterans & Community Housing Coalition provide a resource and ray of hope for homeless Veterans in Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties. Through their housing and support services programs, transitional and permanent housing is provided to over 200 veterans a year. VCHC staff and partnering agencies provide services to help veterans develop skills, and secure employment or benefits to transition to independent living. VCHC partners with the Stratton VA to ensure that the medical, mental health, and addiction needs of each veteran are met. For more information on Veterans & Community Housing Coalition and its services, contact Cheryl at 518-885-0091 or go to www.vchcny.org.