NORWALK, Conn. -- The Norwalk-based Knights of Columbus Bishop Fenwick Assembly 100 recently hosted its Inaugural Patriot Dinner, which raised $1,200 for the Bridgeport-based veterans organization Homes for the Brave.
The fundraiser dinner took place on Armed Forces Day, May 20, at the Knights Hall (next to St. Ann Club), 16 Hendricks Ave. in Norwalk.
Since opening its doors in 2002, ABRI/Homes for the Brave has provided housing, vocational training and job placement, mental health and addiction services, and life skills coaching to help individuals, especially veterans, leave homelessness behind. To date, the organization has worked with more than 900 individuals.
It was the goal of Faithful Navigator George Ribellino to conduct a fundraiser once a year for a specific veterans organization.
“One of my goals when I took over as the Faithful Navigator of the Assembly in September of 2016 was to assist an organization that works for and helps our veterans," said Ribellino.
Assembly Member Al Latte was in charge of the catering part of the dinner. Ribellino went on the say, “I am so appreciative of Brother Al for leading the Sir Knights in the kitchen in preparing a fabulous meal. I am thankful for him and the Brother Knights who helped set up, prepare, serve and clean up.”
The Patriot Dinner was something that Ribellino and Past Faithful Navigator Ed McGettigan, Jr spoke about doing last year. McGettigan passed away suddenly last July and Ribellino wanted to make this idea become a reality in his honor.
“I really have to thank Brothers Dave McCarthy and Al Latte for helping make this dream become a reality. Once the plans came together the other Brother Knights were excited to help and everything wound up coming to together,” Ribellino said.
Every year the Patriot Dinner will benefit a local veteran’s organization. For the Inaugural Patriot Dinner, Homes for the Brave was chosen. The special guest speaker was veteran and former Homes for the Brave resident Eugene Chesney. Chesney spoke about how Homes for the Brave helped make a difference in his life and get him back on track.
“The most amazing part of last night for me was my conversation with the older K of C veteran gentleman that sat alongside with his wife to the left of me," Chesney said.
"When we both shared how difficult it was when our units returned from a deployment that due to no choice of our own, we could not take part in. An instant bond was formed and at that moment I knew I could get it up there and speak from the heart. It showed me that the pride of the American Vet is not separated by generations but bridges the gap of age and previous experience. I knew i had just met more of my extended family. Thank you for the opportunity to heal even more so. “
The dinner was a sell out with 105 guests, including American Legion members from Norwalk and Wilton, and raised $1,200 for Homes for the Brave. A check was presented to Homes for the Brave CEO Vince Santilli and Eugene Chesney.
"We were tremendously honored to receive the proceeds of Bishop Fenwick Assembly's inaugural Patriot Day Dinner and are so blessed to be regularly supported by this terrific group of Brother Knights of Columbus," said Santilli. "We also could not have been prouder of the amazing presentation made by Homes for the Brave House Monitor Eugene Chesney."