Natural Allies

by Matt Benedetti

“Diamonds,” says Marielle flashing a confident smile.

The first-grader furtively peeks at her opponent’s hand while placing the card on the deck. Sporting a blue and green Wild Kratts shirt, the seven-year-old laughs and takes a healthy sip of chocolate milk from a swirly straw.

Content for the moment, the 1st grader waits for the next move.
“Hahts,” says Gram with an accent honed from a lifetime spent in Somerville/Boston neighborhoods before the influx of boutiques and flowered window boxes. She places the 8 of hearts on top of the pile with an equally mischievous smile and takes a sip of her beverage.

Behind sky blue eyes, Marielle thoughtfully studies her hand while considering her options. After munching a handful of pizza-flavored goldfish, she reaches for the top card and plays it without hesitation.

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Gram turns to the television as the iconic theme from the 70s sitcom Barney Miller fills the fourth-floor apartment with the horns, chords and percussion emblematic of that era.

“Barney Miller?!?!” says Marielle.

Though she acts incredulous, Marielle is well aware that the police comedy/drama set in the squad room of the 12th Precinct of the NYPD is her grandmother’s favorite.

The camera shot spans across the water capturing a skyline featuring the twin towers circa 1975. Marielle rolls her eyes in mock exasperation as Hal Linden, the star, shares a laugh with a colleague as the program begins.

Gram plays the next card.

“This is a silly show, the clothes are ridiculous,” teases Marielle in a transparent attempt to prompt a reaction from her paternal grandparent.

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As expected, the effort is successful.

“Well, If I have to watch Wild Kratts….they talk to animals for goodness sakes!” said Gram.

After further discussion, “A Night at the Museum 2” starring Robin Williams will be next to be the next feature on this rainy evening.

The game of Crazy 8’s resumes and Marielle goes to the dwindling deck, finds the 8 of diamonds and declares, “Clubs.”

Within a moment, the latest game in what has become a monthly ritual has concluded and Marielle is basking in the glow of triumph.

“Did you see what I did Gram? I knew there was one more!” she says proudly. “Just like I taught you,” says Gram.

I sit as a spectator as my two favorite people in the world joyfully interact with references and a language only they understand.

“She always wins,” says Gram shuffling the cards for next hand.

On the screen, Inspector Frank Luger enters the squad room to audience applause and the resigned expressions from the multi-cultured plain-clothes detectives.

I sit in my chair and watch the loving, funny and invariably entertaining exchanges between my daughter and mother. It’s Saturday night in a 4thfloor apartment in Boston and I can think of no other place I would rather be.

Parents are in the business of saying no, grandparents, however, are duty bound to say yes. Grandparents and grandchildren are indeed natural allies regardless of time or distance.

Marielle’s monthly visits are much too infrequent but both value this precious time to play to relax, play Crazy 8s, watch movies and laugh.

Somehow, the two share the same smile and sense of humor despite a seven-decade age difference.

They also share a love for unicorns, rainbows and pizza from the Pleasant Café (though Marielle usually only eats the cheese.)

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The keenest similarity, however, is their innate sense of kindness. Each can have their moments but both possess a deep, unabashed reservoir of love.

Asked about Marielle’s disposition Gram observes, “She doesn’t give me any slack but she is a great hugger.”

Marielle explains that Gram is really funny and always says, “Oh my Lawd.” She adds that Gram makes her a great hot chocolate even in the summertime.

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As a kid, I spent a great deal of time with my Nana watching National League baseball on TV, drinking cold Pepsi and playing Gin Rummy way past my bedtime.

It was a place of laughter as visiting relatives brought tales of their day’s travails along with a six-pack of Miller Lites. To me, her apartment was always a sanctuary from the troubles of life.

She allowed me the run of her place and before long my toys were strewn about the wood-paneled one bedroom apartment. I can picture Nana holding the rosary while mumbling prayers in an unintelligible whisper.

As I sit here as a spectator in my Mother’s apartment four decades later watching my Mom and daughter joyfully visit, I am struck by the serendipity. The laughs, relaxed environment and contentment recall those weekends back in the late 70’s when I was young and believed the world a grand place.

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As a divorced father and veteran, I am cognizant of the life’ many hardships and keenly aware of the value of this monthly visit. Although I am physically present, my role is that of a supporting actor or facilitator and relish the second billing. During the course of the two-day visit, I am paid little attention other than to fetch a drink from the fridge or pick up a pizza. Although a steadfast source of comfort and love for each of them, on these weekends, I am present but unnecessary.

A recent Boston College study found that for grandparents, relationships with grandchildren provide a connection with a much younger generation and exposure to different ideas, which is beneficial. For grandkids, grandparents can offer life wisdom that they can put into practice as they navigate young adulthood.

Although I agree with the premise of the study, I feel that researchers could have saved considerable time and energy by forgoing the data and spending a few hours with Mom and Marielle.

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Barney Miller has concluded with a resolved conflict, laughs and a percussion finale.

Night at the Museum 2 slides into the DVD player.

“Hey, can I have some more goldfish,” asks Marielle to Gram.

She shoots a glance at her granddaughter.

“Hey is for horses…. better for cows,” Gram admonishes with a smile but the intent is clear.

After much procrastination, Marielle finally concedes.

“Gram, can I PLEASE have more goldfish?”

The snack quickly appears in a neat black cup accompanied with a small glass of raspberry Gatorade.

Gram cautions Marielle to be careful.

“You know what happened last time,” she counsels.

Marielle smiled at the memory of spilling the contents of the beverage during a previous visit.

Gram asks Marielle about her gymnastics class.
“Straight jumps, tack jumps, y’know,” she casually says while taking a sip of the blue beverage.

“No, no I don’t know,” laughs Gram.

Marielle kids Gram that she would like to see her try gymnastics.

Gram smiles as she deals the cards and the movie begins.

“You will see me flying on a unicorn before that happens,” says Gram.

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Marielle laughs out loud in a manner reserved exclusively for kids. The thought is hilarious and has both my mother and I laughing, too.

As the card game begins, I can’t help but think that I found the happiest place on earth.

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MARIELLE ARRIVES

By Jim Hegarty 2011

There is a miracle that happens almost every day

It happens at home and it happens far away

It may be a quiet little miracle, almost which few will hear

Or a notable affair of which thousand will cheer

But whatever the circumstances, whatever the case

Everytime it happens, it makes the world a better place

The miracle I speak of in my feeble efforts here is the birth of a baby girl,

so precious and so dear

So let us all rejoice and let our bosoms swell

As we make room in our hearts for little Marielle

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Raise a Glass: Lagers For Heroes Enters Third Year in Campaign to Support Veterans

100 percent of proceeds directly allocated to veterans.

Video by Allyson Morin

Article by Matt Benedetti

The iconic Table & Vine in West Springfield was unusually quiet on this early May morning as Phil Conner navigated his carriage down the wide aisle while Billy Joel lamented the fate of the Piano Man over the store sound system.   

The wheels of late middle-aged Conner’s shopping cart screeched to a halt in front of the Yuengling Lagers for Heroes display. He hoisted a case of beer into the carriage and nodded his approval at the sign reading “100 percent for veterans.”

Although he was already an avid Yuengling customer–having visited the brewery in Pennsylvania–the robust program coordinated through the Veterans of Foreign Wars seemed to affirm his brand loyalty.

“I think it’s terrific to have a great beer like Yuengling and to have them involved with such a great program-it’s terrific,” said the Enfield, Conn. resident.

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Entering its third year, Yuengling continues to support the military community through the Lagers for Heroes program, which collects donations on behalf of the VFW.

Yuengling District Manager, Jim Lowe, understands the value of such a worthy initiative.   

“Veterans are everywhere and without the sacrifices they have made along with their family members, we might not have the freedom we enjoy today,” said Lowe, who guides the program here in Massachusetts.

“At Yuengling, we have a slogan, ‘Respect. It’s Earned,’ so this is just a small way I feel we can pay our respects,” said Lowe.

In 2016 and 2017, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. awarded the VFW nearly $210,000 in support for scholarships, financial grants, employment assistance and other services to veterans, service members and their families.

The Lagers for Heroes program has steadily grown throughout Massachusetts with 22 stores participating across the Commonwealth as of May 2018.

“Initially, we started with a few stores in eastern Mass. and now we’ve expanded into central and western Mass,” said Lowe.

Lagers for Heroes was launched in 2016 through a partnership with the VFW and has raised approximately $20,000 locally since its inception. Every penny of the donations raised go to help local veterans and their families in Massachusetts.

Partnerships are pivotal to the success of the campaign. Kappy’s Wine and Spirits, a Massachusetts landmark for the better part of the past century, has already raised $3,326 in support of the program in the last week alone.

“We wanted to take it a step further here in Massachusetts, so we developed the in-store fundraising program in which participating stores like the Table & Vine, who share our values towards vets, to help collect donations at checkout,” said Lowe.

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He added he finds the campaign to be personally rewarding.

“It really is a great cause and as we head into Memorial Day, it’s always great to remember those who have served,” he said.

Beer Manager Tom Gamache at Table & Vine echoes Lowe’s sentiment.

“When military members from Westover (ARB) come in, we always thank them for their service,” said Gamache.  

As expected, aisle traffic picks up as customers peruse the stocked shelves in preparation for weekend graduations, cookouts and playoff games. The last notes of Billy Joel fade into a Huey Lewis hit from a long-forgotten summer.

Lowe turns to thank Conner for being such a loyal Yuengling customer and for supporting the Lagers for Heroes program.

“Thank you for your business,” said Lowe.

“Thank you for the beer,” Conner replied.  

Julio’s Liquors

A customer entering Julio’s Liquors in Westborough with the intention of purchasing beer, wine or myriad other products will be unable to ignore the Lagers for Heroes display conspicuously positioned near the entryway.  

Large Yuengling and VFW emblems featured prominently on the board urging support for Massachusetts veterans. The display, peppered with names of employee donors, occupied prime real estate in the most heavily trafficked section of the popular and immaculately clean store.

The placement here is no accident and is the clearest indicator of owner Ryan Maloney’s steadfast commitment to veterans and their families. In an era of bumper sticker patriotism and vague corporate jingoism, Ryan Maloney demonstrates his allegiance to veteran causes throughout the year by taking meaningful action.  He actively raises money for several charitable organizations including Sweats for Vets, the Shriners and Vets Inc., among other organizations.

Partnering with the VFW and Yuengling Beer to help promote the Lagers for Heroes program was a quick decision for the energetic business owner and philanthropist.          

“We believe in supporting local vets because they do so much for us. We enjoy the freedoms that they provide every day and if we can give back in some way- it’s the least we could do,” said Maloney.

As well, Maloney will host a podcast from Julio’s to help support the program on May 19.

“Both Yuengling and the VFW are doing something that you don’t always see in corporate America, raising money for those who need it,” said Maloney.

He said he is happy to offer continued support to such a worthwhile cause.

“We enjoy the freedoms that they provide every day and this is just a way to say thank you,” he said.

Wachusett Wine and Spirits

Mike Faucher, the proprietor of Wachusett Wine and Spirits in West Boylston, needs no persuading when the subject turns to supporting members of the U.S. military.

Faucher’s grandfather and founder of the business served in the Navy during World War II. Charles Faucher’s wartime assignments included operations during the D-Day invasion as well as minesweeping duties in the North Sea where he was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered during enemy action.  

Faucher was eager to participate in the Lagers for Heroes program.      

“I was approached by Yuengling and did some research and discovered that 100 percent of the donations go to local veterans,” said Faucher, who named the store blog, “What’s Next” in honor of his grandfather’s PT Boat. “I was happy to help,” he said.  

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Faucher was also comfortable working with the Massachusetts VFW.   

“The VFW is the best way to give back to veterans, the VFW in Massachusetts is very proactive and they always step up to help veterans and their families,” he said.

Eric Segundo, the State Commander for the VFW in Massachusetts recognizes how this program directly enhances the quality of life of veterans and their families.   

“The Lager for Heroes program helps provide the financial and moral support needed to continue our mission,” said Segundo.

“The partnership with Yuengling has demonstrated their deep commitment to our work of providing assistance to our Veterans, their widows and families. There is no way to fully express our gratitude for their loyalty,” he said.

The tangible results are experienced by Massachusetts veterans and their families throughout the state.

Rebekah Flaherty, the wife of a deployed soldier, contacted the VFW last fall in dire need of assistance due to a damaged roof.

“As soon as we contacted the VFW, we got immediate help” she recalled.  

Funding for the roof was allocated by the VFW Unmet Needs fund and a partnership with Yuengling Beer through the Lagers for Heroes Program. Beantown Home Improvement supplied the much-needed repairs.  

Participating retailers across the state will collect donations upon checkout when community members elect to donate when making their beer purchase. Funds from donations will be used to support grants VFW has designated for the state from which the donations originated.

The next time you raise a glass, extend a hand to help a veteran in need.

To learn more or get involved, please visit www.vfwma.org.

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BEANTOWN Home Improvement: Integrity, Service and American Pride

Owner Jim DelPrete stands behind his work as well as the Veteran Community

 

Video by Allyson Morin

Article by Matt Benedetti

HALIFAX, Mass“Say what you do, do what you say,” said Jim DelPrete, owner Beantown Home Improvement.

To most homeowners contemplating a major renovation, selecting the right contractor can be a daunting process. All too often, a prior negative experience with a contractor will leave a homeowner apprehensive about making a substantial investment on a large scale project such as new siding or a roof replacement.  Meetings with contractors frequently do not inspire confidence and leave the homeowner with as many questions as answers.

Otherwise talented tradesman may survey a property, jot down an estimate on a scrap of paper and be on their way without a word of explanation.

DelPrete, the owner of BEANTOWN Home Improvements, takes the opposite approach. He inherently understands that exercising patience and fostering an environment of open communication is vitally important to the customer. As well, he is cognizant of the fact that to many Massachusetts homeowners, his or her home represents that family’s single largest investment. After meeting with a potential client, he suggests that the homeowner make a decision only after a period of research and reflection.

DelPrete, who started BEANTOWN in 2014, explains his philosophy this way.

“Communication is about 50% percent of the job and I feel that I do it better than most,” he said.

“I take the time to listen to the homeowner to better understand who they are and what they hope to accomplish,” he said. “I consider myself a consultant, not a salesman.”   

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Armed with this insight he is positioned to present options and estimates tailored to the needs of the individual.

“I walk them through the process and assure the customer that I will be there every step of the way. I know that that the homeowner is putting their faith in me as a professional and I want them to be well informed and aware of all the possibilities,” he said. “We stand behind our work and customer satisfaction is always our priority,” he added.

A skilled and experienced craftsman, DelPrete comes from a family of builders and contractors. A graduate of Plymouth State College, DelPrete holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and minor in chemistry.

Based in Halifax, BEANTOWN Home Improvements specializes in roofing, siding, windows, doors, skylights, gutters, framing, insulation, drywall, plaster, decks and railings. Approximately 40% of DelPrete’s clients are customer referrals. His team services areas east of Worcester, north to New Hampshire and south to Cape Cod and Rhode Island.              

BEANTOWN has grown exponentially since 2014 and garnered a series of customer based awards for excellence. A three-time Angie’s List Super Service Award winner since 2015, BEANTOWN has also collected a Guildmaster Award for Service Excellence, Home Advisor Best of Winner in 2015 and 2016, Thumbtack Best of Winner 2016 and earned the AAA rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Although DelPrete is proud of the accolades and official recognition, he derives a sense of pride from meeting with satisfied customers at the completion of a job. Knowing his work has enhanced the customer’s quality of life means a great deal to him.  

“I am a perfectionist and know that homeowners appreciate our attention to detail and craftsmanship,” he said. “I’m a people person and love making my customers happy,” he said.

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A sentiment echoed by his satisfied customers.

Happy Homeowners

Angela Medeiros hired BEANTOWN to install siding on her home in East Freetown, Mass. and loved the result.

“It’s like coming home to a new house,” she said. “I can’t say enough good things about Jim and his crew, top notch from start to finish,” she said.

“Honest, upfront, professional and courteous. You just don’t meet many people with his character and integrity,” she added.

Medeiros, who was in the process of refinancing her home during the renovation, is convinced that the improvements helped secure more favorable terms.

“We plan to use them for every project and strongly recommend them to friends and neighbors–just phenomenal,” said Medeiros, an Air Force veteran.

John Ferraro of Hanover hired BEANTOWN for a siding job and could not be happier with the results. “We just signed another contract with him. I feel comfortable with Jim and his crew and highly recommend them,” said Ferraro.

He appreciates DelPrete’s high level of professionalism and strong work ethic.

“I love his attention to detail–he checks on everything step by step,” said Ferraro. “He says what he is going to do and does it, no excuses. You can count on him,” he said. “I like the guy and he does a lot for the military, too,” he added.  

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Commitment to Veterans

In an era where corporate advertisers readily declare that they, “Support the Troops” or are “Veteran Friendly,” many military members soon discover that these hollow claims reflect a bumper sticker patriotism that has become common.    

DelPrete, however, recognizes the service of our veterans past and present by offering a significant 20% discount on home improvement projects and through Operation Payback, which awards a veteran a roof installation at NO charge.

This major investment in resources is made possible by the generosity of Braintree based Heritage Wholesalers and DelPrete’s cousin, Mike DelPrete of DelPrete Disposal in Whitman, Mass. Veterans are encouraged to apply for the drawing held in October.    

DelPrete explains how Operation Payback developed.

“Service members have allowed me the freedom to live in this great country and to run a business,” he said. “We wanted to show our appreciation and through the help of our partners, Operation Payback was born.”

Jon Palomino, an Air Force veteran, was the recipient of last year’s drawing.

“Jim’s a great guy and we can’t thank him enough,” he said.   

Eligibility Conditions

The registrant/winner must be an active, reserve, honorably discharged, or retired American veteran of the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy. The home must be their permanent residence, not a rental. The residence must be in Massachusetts within Plymouth, Bristol or Norfolk Counties

The winner must provide a valid Military ID, which will be confirmed by Beantown and then by a recruiting office of the appropriate military branch.

A winner will be chosen at noon on October 31st, 2018 to allow time for registrant validation. Please see the entry page for details.

DelPrete is excited about the initiative and proud to give back in some way. “That’s just how I was raised,” he said.

He attributes the continued growth of BEANTOWN to a steadfast commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

“Our goal is to be upfront and honest with every client, earn your respect and offer the best customer service in the industry,” he said.

“I say what I do and do what I say,” promised DelPrete.

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Do not hesitate to contact Jim DelPrete directly at 781-293-1417 or     http://www.beantownhi.com/

 

Florence VFW Post 8006 Commander On Point for 150th Memorial Day Parade

Video by Allyson Morin

Article by Matt Benedetti

Florence, Mass–After visiting with the Commander of VFW Post 8006 in Florence, Mass., for a few minutes, it is easy to see why people naturally follow Tom Pease. Affable, relaxed and personable, Pease understands the unique challenges faced by service members and has worked to create a community-based environment that is welcoming for veterans of all generations.

An Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Pease is preparing Post 8006 for the 150th Memorial Day Parade to be held on May 28, 2018. First held after the Civil War in 1868, it is the longest continuously celebrated parade held on Memorial Day.

“We’ve never, ever missed a parade on Memorial Day,” said Pease.

 

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Florence, Mass. Memorial Day Parade, 1911

 

Traditionally, Memorial Day allows Americans an opportunity to reflect on the collective and individual sacrifices of service members.

For Pease, who served as an infantryman in Vietnam from August 1967 thru August 1968, his tour was long ago but on Memorial Day doesn’t seem so far away.

“I lost a really good friend, it tore the whole platoon up,” he remembered.

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In the Summer of 1967, the collective attention of New England was drawn to the emergence of the Boston Red Sox in the American League pennant race. Cellar dwellers in 1966, the Sox led by eventual Triple Crown Winner and MVP Carl Yastrzemski, captured the interest of young and old alike in a historic season that would be known as the “Impossible Dream.”    

The voice Red Sox announcer Curt Gowdy and the “Carl Yastrzemski Song” by Jess Cain could be heard on most front porches and car radios throughout the summer.IMG_0776

Pease, however, was less concerned with events at Fenway than he was in places like An Khe, a restive city located in the Central Highlands in the Republic of South Vietnam. News from Southeast Asia was garnering larger headlines each week and Pease had received his orders for service in Vietnam.

Drafted the previous year, the 18-year-old Smith Vocational Graduate had returned to Florence from basic training and advanced individual training at Ft. Jackson, S.C.  

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“I was on the drill team in high school and knew the draft was coming. In hindsight, I wish that I had enlisted,” he said.

Pease scored high on aptitude assessment tests and qualified for training as a helicopter pilot. After some reflection, he declined.

“I decided that I wanted to go infantry, felt better about having my feet on the ground,” he said.

As he drank cold beer and waterskied with his buddies on the river on a humid night in July, he was keenly aware that his life would be irrevocably altered in the near future.  

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After saying goodbye to family and friends in late August of 67, Pease departed from Bradley Airport in Ct. with stops at Ft. Ord, Ca, Midway Island and the Philippines before finally arriving at Cam Ranh Bay in the Republic of Vietnam.

SPC 5 Pease found himself assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry at An Khe, the infamous General George Custer’s old unit at Little Big Horn.

He thought to himself, “What have I gotten myself into?”

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His platoon leader gave him the choice of three jobs: assistant gunner, radioman or walking point. Pease selected the responsibility of walking point despite the obvious threat level.

“I always had a good sense of direction and awareness and felt confident that I could lead a squad of men,” he recalled.

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For six months he walked points on patrols in places like the Bong Son, Phan Thiet and countless villages along Highway 9.

After suffering a shrapnel wound that had become infected, Pease was assigned to accompany the unit sergeant major as an information specialist. This duty took him throughout the theater to places like Camp Evans, LZ Betty and on a recovery mission after the 77-day siege of the Marine fire-base at Khe Sanh.

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“Those Marines didn’t want to talk to any of us,” he said.

After spending time in the Au Shau Valley, Pease rotated back to the States in August of 1968 for a five-month assignment at Ft. Carson, Co.

The stark contrast between the two environments was jarring to the soldier accustomed to oppressive heat, leeches and mud.

“Funny, how the Army works,” said Pease. “Here I was in the jungle on 1 Aug and by 1 Sep I was on maneuvers in the snow,” he said.

“I got sick as a dog,” he recalled with a laugh.

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VFW

The two-year enlistment had concluded and Pease turned to civilian interests.

“I grew my hair long and all I wanted was a cold beer and to go to work,” he said.

It never occurred to him to join the VFW at the time.

“I felt that I had done enough,” he said.   

It was after 9/11 that Pease decided that he had a change of heart.

“It woke me up and I became more involved,” he said.

Today, Commander Pease oversees 135 members and is up for election for his 5th term. He understands that OIF/OEF veterans may not be immediately drawn to a fraternal organization like the VFW so soon after service but urges them to consider joining.

“We embrace these veterans and welcome them to consider joining. The VFW is not just a place to drink beer, we are active in the community and open to the whole community,” said Pease. “Hopefully these veterans and members of the community will come to the post and help us celebrate Memorial Day,” he said.

Massachusetts VFW State Commander Eric Segundo is proud of the efforts of Tom Pease at VFW Post 8006.

“Tom is an example of the dedicated members we have serving the VFW, ” said Segundo. “His commitment to our organization, veterans and community is one we should all follow. The department is proud to have members like Tom,” he added.

Much has changed since the Summer of ’67 although some things remain constant. The Red Sox have a strong team and look to be pennant contenders and servicemembers are still returning from an enduring conflict in Asia. Whether it is 1968 or 2018, the VFW will always be here to support veterans.

 

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Florence, Mass. Memorial Day Parade, 1940

 

“No one does more for veterans,” promised Tom Pease.

The village of Florence, Mass. will hold their 150th Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 28 at 1:00 p.m. following a ceremony and jet flyover. The VFW will lead the procession as they’ve always done and will continue to do.

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(617) 833-5621

 

National and Massachusetts VFW Provide Hurricane Maria Relief to Puerto Rico

Video by Allyson Morin

Article by Matt Benedetti

Photos Courtesy of VFW Post 754 Post Commander Gamalier Rosa

In the fall of 2017, as the scale and scope of the damage from Hurricane Maria became apparent to Jose Santos-Alvarez, the Senior Vice Commander of VFW Post 12064. He knew his community of Ponce and the entire island of Puerto Rico was in dire need of substantial assistance.

An Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a VFW member since 1967, he mobilized his post and reached out to his brothers and sisters in the VFW across the United States.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, if you need help, we’re going to help,” said Santos-Alvarez.   

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According to Eric Segundo, State Commander of the VFW in Massachusetts, Puerto Rico has more veterans per capita than any other state.

“When disaster struck Texas and Florida we responded quickly to answer the call from our comrades in need. Supporting Puerto Rico was especially more personal for me as many of my family, friends and fellow veterans I served with were in much need,” said Segundo.

While others dithered, the VFW–who have a long-standing commitment to supporting veterans, servicemembers and their families in the wake of natural disasters–responded.  

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A few weeks later, VFW Post Commander 754 Gamalier Rosa departed western Massachusetts to Puerto Rico to assist with relief operations.  

“I established contact with VFW Post 12064 and we organized multiple water and food distributions to veterans and their dependents who came into their office to apply for the VFW Unmet Needs Program Disaster Grant,” said Rosa.

25659336_10159670170045526_1857772772655533439_nDuring his approximately 3 month deployment, Rosa was able to render assistance in myriad ways including the purchase of much-needed generators through the VFW Unmet Needs Grant Program.

“Words couldn’t explain how appreciative we are of his service to the Veterans of Foreign Wars but to the people of Puerto Rico,” said Segundo.

Working closely with members of VFW Post 12064, they assisted with myriad tasks including debris removal, locating temporary housing for displaced veterans, distribution of water and food and several other related administrative tasks.

“Some veterans lost their homes and we worked day and night to try to help in any way,” said Santos.  We worked together with to help the people of Puerto Rico and we are grateful to Gam the VFW for their help,” said Santos.

Segundo echoed this statement.

“We are one family and no matter where the disaster happens, we are here for our veterans,” Segundo said.

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Santos was grateful for the support offered by the national VFW and the contributions of Massachusetts specifically.

“Today in Puerto Rico, the reputation of the VFW is very high and people understand how much our organization helped,” said Santos.  “We did with our hearts and the help of the VFW.”

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