BRISTOL - As the Veterans Strong Community Center nears the end of its first year as a self-supporting organization, it is planning to establish some regular fundraising events.
The first one will be a prix-fixe dinner at The Willows Restaurant at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, on Thursday, April 27, from 6 to 10 p.m., with 10 percent of all food and beverage sales donated to Veterans Strong.
“The dinner is to help us gear up for the next fiscal year starting July 1, since we are all set for this year,” said Donna Dognin, veterans assistance specialist at Veterans Strong, which is housed at City Hall.
The organization started five years ago as the Army Strong Center, one of six such centers throughout the country and the only one located in a city hall. About a year ago the Army pulled the funding from all the centers, but the Bristol community stepped up to keep the local one open.
Veterans Strong provides a variety of support services for veterans and family members, including referrals out for assistance, guidance with benefits issues, getting into the Department of Veterans Affairs system, transportation, and job and family issues. In addition to Bristol, Veterans Strong serves New Britain, Southington, Farmington, Avon, Plainville, Wolcott, Plymouth, Burlington, Thomaston and Harwinton.
To participate in the dinner at The Willows, you don’t need to buy tickets, “just go out and have dinner,” Dognin said. “It’s probably advisable to make reservations first.”
The cost is $35, with a special wine pairing available for $25, for a three course dinner with various choices for each course. Reservations can be made by calling 860-584-7663.
First course consists of Caprese salad, herbed goat cheese crostini, or French onion soup.
Second course is a choice of andouille risotto with grilled shrimp and saffron gastrique; chicken and broccoli pappardelle with free range chicken, organic broccoli, and spring onion alfredo; char grilled flat iron steak with potato terrine and chimichurri; or pan seared Faroe Island salmon with porcini wild rice and maple crema.
Third course is crepes with whipped mascarpone, mixed berry compote, and crème Anglaise; or New York Style cheesecake with strawberries and Chantilly crème.
Dognin said she would like to have three fundraisers a year, “fun things that the whole community can get behind.”
For the next event, she is considering a LuLaRoe fundraiser. LuLaRoe is a clothing line that sells online and through local consultants. “It’s all the rage on Facebook now. I have a group of local consultants that are going to do a fundraiser for me during the summer and give a certain amount of their proceeds from the sales back,” she said.
Veterans Strong is also putting out a call to family and friends of any currently serving service members from Bristol to submit their photos for the Patriot Board in City Hall.
The Patriot Board has been located on the first floor of City Hall, between the registrars’ office and the elevator.
Dognin said the council wants to update it. The only two photos there now are for service members who were killed in action. “We’re going to keep those up as a memorial,” she said.
In particular, the Bristol Veterans Council is looking for service members that have been honored over the past six years at the council’s annual Salute Dinner, Dognin said. The Salute Dinner honors high school students preparing to enter the military.
“This is the seventh year of the Salute Dinner,” she said. “They would love to hear from some of the honorees from the previous six years with a picture and a little update of what they are doing, where they are stationed, etc. Where they are stationed won’t be posted, it’s just for the council to know.”
Photos can just be a regular size, not a large portrait, she added. “With the picture submission, please include the service member name, rank, branch of service, as well as the name, phone and/or email of the person submitting the picture.”
Pictures may be mailed to P.O. Box 2634, Bristol, CT 06011-2634, Attention: Patriot Board, or they may be dropped off at the Veterans Strong Community Center on the first floor at City Hall.
For more information, visit veteranscouncilbrct.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.