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Displaying items by tag: veterans

Thursday, 07 November 2019 14:12

4th Annual Veteran's Ball: Honoring Those Who Served

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
Master Gunnery
United States Marine Corps

1983 - 2008 

Chris Homicz
United States Marine Corps

2004 - 2012 

Tiffany Orner
United States Air Force 2001 - 2004

Dave Wallingford
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.

Published in News
Thursday, 23 May 2019 13:14

Tiny House, Big Impact

BALLSTON SPA — Tuesday, May 22, the Ballston Spa High School technology department unveiled their two years in the making “tiny house” project and their new partnership with the Malta VETERANS Appreciation Program. 
The three years young program is run entirely through volunteer work and the partnership with the Ballston Spa school district is expected to enable a significant outcome in the years to come. “We’d like to say thank you to all the contributors. This was not a small project by any means. This whole community jumped in on a bandwagon in about 35 seconds of hearing about the project,” stated Renee Farley, Chairperson of the Malta VETERANS Appreciation Program. 
Jared Marcantoni, the technology teacher at Ballston Spa High School and his students spent two years demolishing a 1978 travel trailer and constructing it into a fully functioning tiny house which will serve as a home for a deserving veteran, which was purchased by the Malta VETERANS Appreciation Program. 
The Ballston Spa school district will continue to partner with the Malta VETERANS Appreciation Program to provide students with authentic work-based learning opportunities that benefit the community.
Published in Education
Thursday, 08 November 2018 15:37

3rd Annual Veteran's Ball

Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Veterans and Community Housing Coalition (VCHC) recently hosted its Third Annual Veterans Ball at the Hall of Springs on Sunday, Nov. 4. Over 300 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 evening’s highlights included Honorary Chair Ray O’Conor, LaSalle Institute’s JROTC Cadets, live music by The Joey Thomas Big Band, Saratoga Photobooth, champagne provided by DeCrescente Distributing Co., 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. 


Allan Atwell - 
United States Army 1943 to 1945

Edward F. Deyoe - 
United States Army 1943 to 1945

Charles “Chuck” Dunham - 
United States Navy 1943 to 1945

Samuel “Sid” Gordon - 
United States Army 1946 to 1948

John “Jack” Harrigan - 
United States Army 1943 to 1945

“EJ” Knapik - 
United States Navy 1945 to 1947

Corporal Henry Rowland - 
United States Army 1944 to 1946

Dennis Treanor - 
United States Army 1946-1947

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:

Gene Ratigliano - 
United States Navy 1965-1991

Joe Pennell - 
United States Army 1982-1986

David Kieserman - 
United States Air Force 1960-1966

Dave Lockhart - 
United States Army 1981-1984

Bob Dyer - 
United States Army 1962-1968

Heather Martin - 
United States Air Force 2001-2005

A very touching tribute was made by Veterans and Community Housing Coalition’s Executive Director, Cheryl Hage-Perez, to SSG Derek J. Farley, United States Army 2004-2010 as a Fallen Hero who died in combat in Western Afghanistan in 2010 at the age of 24. The evening also included a special tribute to the Veterans Business Council for their continued service in going above and beyond to help the homeless Veterans served at VCHC.

Published in Families Today
Thursday, 04 January 2018 18:30

A Holiday Rush to Help Veterans in Malta

Renee Farley. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

MALTA – This week, one military veteran braved the frigid air and crawled under his mobile home to inspect ductwork after his heat failed to work.

In early December, the strut on another veteran’s car was so severely damaged that it ruined one of his tires, too.

Six days before Christmas, a young military couple—both active-duty National Guard—were struggling with money problems that made it difficult to afford gifts for their two children, who are 5 years and 8 months old.

All year long, situations like those arise suddenly for local veterans and military families.

That is when Renee Farley and the other volunteer members of the Malta Veterans Appreciation Program (MVAP) immediately send “call to action” alerts by email and through social-media; or directly provide whatever assistance is needed.  

In recent weeks, Farley and the MVAP volunteers were prompted by such circumstances to step up their efforts; and the related alerts to help people whom Farley calls “hometown heroes” were answered.

After New Year’s Day, Farley personally intervened in the case of Leroy, the veteran whose heating system was somehow compromised in the midst of the cold spell.

With the help of her son and another young man, Farley temporarily patched heating ductwork that was damaged—possibly by animals—underneath Leroy’s mobile home. Then she issued a call to action for a permanent fix. 

In the case of Mike, the veteran with a disabled vehicle, Farley said there was “a united front” by Stacy and Jim Fantauzzi of Northeast Fire Protection Systems in Ballston Spa, who bought two new front tires; Lake Auto Parts in Burnt Hills, which donated a new strut; and Mark’s VW and Import Service in Mechanicville, which donated the garage space and a couple hours’ worth of labor to get Mike and his family back on the road.

“We got all the parts and we did all the work,” offered Mark Thompson, owner of Mark’s VW and Import Service. “We were happy to fix it for him.”

Bryan Haas, a retired Sgt. 1st Class in the U.S. Army and secretary of the five-member MVAP Board of Directors, met with Haley and Jordan, the National Guard members, during their time of need. He said Haley had provided a list of preferred items.

“I got every single thing they asked for,” Haas said, “plus a ton of food.”

The MVAP program, according to Farley, donated more than $500 in groceries and a gift card so Haley and Jordan would find it easier to enjoy the holidays with their kids.

“I have a Chevy SUV. I filled it up twice,” Haas continued. “We slam-dunked it. They actually told me it was the best Christmas they had since they’ve been married.” 

In addition to the MVAP network, Haas said crucial assistance was provided by the Veterans Miracle Center in Albany.   

“When we do those calls to action, the response is phenomenal,” he added.

The MVAP volunteers also work to ensure that local veterans can manage regular trips to medical appointments and the routine activities of daily life.

The group is coordinating on ongoing fundraiser for the proposed expansion of the veterans’ memorial walkway in front of Malta Town Hall.

Memorial bricks can be purchased naming individual veterans and their military branch; the bricks will be a permanent part of the display, which includes a small piece of steel from the World Trade Center.

Farley said the military veterans thusly memorialized do not have to be local. 

For more information, visit the website www.maltavets.com.     

Published in News
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 09:16

Saratoga Springs Veteran Tax Break Resolution

SARATOGA SPRINGS – At its Nov. 14 school board meeting, the Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution for the Alternative Veterans’ Tax Exemption at Level C and a 10 percent Cold War Veterans’ Tax Exemption at Level C.

According to a statement from Maura Manny, director of community outreach and communication at the school district, “the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption (AVE) was established in 1984 for municipalities…and the Cold War Exemption (CWE) in 2007. Beginning in 2014 (AVE) and in 2016 (CWE), school districts were given the option to adopt these exemptions, which would exempt a portion of an eligible veteran’s assessed property value from real property taxes. The exemptions are only available to veterans who served during a designated time of war, and only applicable to primary residential properties.”

The tax levy (total amount of taxes) collected from all residents does not change but rather causes a shift in taxes, allowing qualifying veterans to apply to have their school taxes lowered. Non-qualifying taxpayers would experience an increase.

According to Lew Benton, a veteran and representative of an ad-hoc group of veterans who have been advocating for this tax break since last summer, members of the veteran community went to the board of education several months ago and asked what exemptions, if any, were offered.

Prior to the school board making their final decision on Nov. 14, the exemption was included on many board-meeting agendas, there was an online survey, and a public hearing was held to gather feedback from the community members.

Benton and his fellow veterans reviewed all of the board meeting minutes, for language suggesting a misunderstanding on the board’s part.

“There was a disconnect between the board about what a veteran really means,” Benton said.

The ad-hoc group then decided to take the board minutes and craft a memo regarding any misconceptions, providing clarification and appended anything that seemed to need highlighting and explanation. The group presented the memo in June to the board.

Following that, more meetings were held and the veterans’ group encouraged the board of education to “review, discuss and put it back on the table to draw a conclusion,” Benton said.

“While this is not the level we sought, it is a first step and will benefit many, particularly those of modest means and younger veterans attempting to become home owners,” said Benton.

Both exemptions will go into effect for the 2018-19 school year budget.

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS – History came alive recently for students at Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS).

In the intimate setting of the SSHS teaching auditorium, a little over three classes worth of local students gathered for an assembly on May 24 where seven members of the Adirondack Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association came to share stories from their times serving their country. In attendance to share their stories were Bruce Blackie, Roger Calkins, Eugene Slavin, Paul O’Keefe, Edward Bushey, William Reid, and Robert Garland. After each speaker rose to give the audience a salute, Blackie spoke first, introducing the group’s intention to shed a light on what many have termed the “Forgotten War.”

“What we wanna do is put a personal face on what you read in the history books,” Blackie said. He continued, noting the historically significant facets of the Korean War: it was the first war in American history with no formal congressional declaration to mark the country’s entrance into it, and it ended not with a victory on either side, but with a ceasefire that holds to this day.

Calkins spoke next, first noting how each speaker had lived through WWII, which ended just five years before the start of the Korean War, and how at the time the feeling of peace was such that few thought that it would ever end, let alone so soon after. He then took students through the shape of the lands controlled by the North and the South over the course of three years, starting with the divisions of the country made by the United States and the Soviet Union after WWII, see-sawing back and forth from Northern to Southern control, before finally ending with the current dividing line at the 38th Parallel, currently known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

“It all happened very fast,” Calkins said.

O’Keefe spoke next, bringing a much more personal angle to his talk, telling the story of how he came to be involved in the war, and how things went for himself and his friends afterwards. O’Keefe graduated from Mechanicville High School only four days before the war began. Alongside himself, a good friend of his from school, Raymond Waldron, was also drafted, and he told the audience to remember that name, as he would be coming back to it. Before basic training, O’Keefe had never held any sort of weapon before.

“Not even a BB gun,” O’Keefe said.

Speaking of his time on the battlefield, he noted how the life of a soldier felt like being an animal.

“Your home is now a hole in the ground,” he said, telling the students about foxholes.

Coming back to his friend Waldron, O’Keefe told the story of how surprised he was to see a friend from home in the army with himself. Later on, he told students about how Waldron went on to attend Ithaca College, and eventually became a coach and respected athletic director at SSHS, despite at one time being among their bitter rivals on the sports team in Mechanicville. Waldron’s esteem within the community was so great that a street was named after him, Coach Waldron Way, just off of Washington Street in Saratoga Springs.

O’Keefe concluded his portion by highlighting the some of the graduating Blue Streaks who would be going on to attend military academies in the fall, including student athletes Hunter Choy and Will Navin, who were in attendance.

After each speaker had told their stories, they opened up the floor for student questions. Choy and Navin each came with the kinds of specific questions befitting soon-to-be members of the Armed Forces. Choy asked about the tactics employed by the forces they interacted with in Korea, to which many of the men recalled the overwhelming numbers mobilized by the Chinese, who fought on the side of North Korea alongside the Soviet Union. Navin wanted to know about the public’s perceptions of the war at the time, which according to the men was something like ignorance, as many people seemed unaware of the war. Upon returning home from combat, a few speakers recalled how many people at home were not aware that they had been gone for so long on account of the war.

Along with sharing stories from their times in the service, the speakers also stressed how important it is to honor those servicemen and women who were not lucky enough to come back, an appropriate message so close to Memorial Day.

“It is a day to remember those who never got to take their uniforms off,” O’Keefe said about the upcoming day of remembrance.

All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com

Published in Education

Much of my work is helping newly divorced individuals navigate their way through the end of a marriage and creating a new vision for a healthy relationship and life in general. There are certain patterns I have come to identify that all of us go through at the end of a significant relationship.

Published in News