LJWC hosts 10th annual Veteran Appreciation Dinner

Event includes dinner, music, raffles, and laughs

by Melanie Jongsma

LYNWOOD, Ill. (May 9, 2019) – Bright pink shirts welcomed guests, checked the list of names, and handed out raffle tickets as Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard veterans entered the front hallway of Dream Palace in Lynwood. The bright pink shirts designated members of the Lansing Junior Woman’s Club, and they were hosting nearly 300 veterans and guests at their 10th annual US Military Veteran Appreciation Dinner.

Members of the Lansing Junior Woman’s Club station themselves at the welcome table to greet arriving guests. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The Dream Palace is the third venue for the annual event, after attendance outgrew the American Legion and then the Knights of Columbus. The dinner is free for veterans and only $5.00 for guests. The Lansing Junior Woman’s Club holds a fundraising dinner each year to help cover the costs, and donations from a variety of organizations and local businesses provide a generous meal as well as a bounty of raffle prizes.

This year’s dinner opened with the presentation of colors by the Lansing Veteran’s Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard, followed by the national anthem sung by Danielle Sault, a student at Visible Music College:

After a prayer by emcee Michael Bolz, LJWC President Jocelyn Farris took the podium to welcome guests and express appreciation for their service. Dinner then commenced with warm rolls, salad, a choice of entrees, and dessert. Entertainer Lenny Lito accompanied the meal with accordion music.

President Jocelyn Farris welcomed guests on behalf of the Lansing Junior Woman’s Club. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Daniel Duverney (far right) served as photographer for the event, and he was delighted to pose with his cousins (from left) Arthur Chavez, Paul Chavez, and Jack Chavez Sr. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich encourages veterans everywhere to sign up for Honor Flight. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
As dinner ended, Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich addressed the crowd and encouraged them to sign up for Honor Flight, particularly since Honor Flight is now accepting veterans from the war in Vietnam. Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization that offers aging veterans a day of honor in Washington DC, bringing them to the memorials built in tribute to them. The flight and full-day itinerary are provided at no cost to the veteran, and priority is given to the most senior veterans first. The program began with veterans of World War II, and Honor Flight Chicago began including veterans of the Korean War in 2016. Beginning this year they have expanded the day of honor to Vietnam-era veterans.

Mayor Patty Eidam, herself a US Army veteran, also offered some words of thanks to the attendees.

The crowd applauds as Mayor Patty Eidam (standing, far left) speaks to them as a fellow veteran. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Dozens of local businesses and individuals donated money and goods to create an estimated 60 raffle prize baskets. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich (left) was available after dinner to answer questions from veterans about the Honor Flight experience. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The Lansing Junior Woman’s Club, founded in 1948, is one of Lansing’s oldest women’s volunteer organizations. For the past 10 years, this group has had fun organizing and hosting the Veterans Appreciation Dinner. The group includes the women pictured here: Jocelyn Farris (President), Gloria Chavez-Gomez (Vice President), Toya Jackson (Secretary), Eva Kennedy (Treasurer), Ashley Cushing, Clarice Fuss, Darlene Jahn, Barbara Lee, Fran Mabry, Erica Navarro, Rosalie Putignano, Deborah Resendez, Andrea Rosalez, and Rita Rosalez.
Not pictured: Phaedra Bullock, Kecia Hodge, JoAnn Kijewski, Karen Kijewski-Lopez, and Retta Putignano-King. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

To learn more about the Lansing Junior Woman’s Club and the work they do in the Lansing community, visit their Facebook page:

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