NORWALK—The Knights of Columbus Bishop Fenwick 4th Degree Assembly No. 100 recently hosted its 3rd Annual Patriot Dinner on Saturday, May 11 at the Knights Hall next to St. Ann Club in Norwalk. The dinner raised over $2,000 for veterans at Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes and the Norwalk Public Safety Cadets. In addition, a portion of the funds raised was will help the Knights of Columbus purchase new t-shirts/supplies for the Cadet Post.
The dinner was a sell-out with around 110 guests which included members of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and members of the Knights of Columbus. The title sponsor for the dinner was Assembly member Sir Knight AJ Cossuto and his company AJ’s Landscaping, LLC.
“I am so appreciative of Brother AJ Cossuto and his company AJ’s Landscaping for being a sponsor which helped offset the costs so we can donate more funds to our female veterans,” said Assembly 100 faithful navigator George Ribellino, Jr.
Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes (FS: FH) a program from Homes for the Brave is Connecticut’s first and only community-based transitional home exclusively for homeless female Veterans and their young children. Housed at the Nicholas A. Madaras Home, FS:FH provides ten beds for female Veterans and five beds, when available, for their young children.
Since opening in 2011, the program helps female Veterans by meeting their needs for a safe, secure home and adequate food and by empowering residents to move forward with their long-term goals: obtaining permanent housing, achieving financial stability and working toward greater self-determination. Each resident works with a case manager to develop personal, housing and employment goals. ABRI vocational staff coach residents in the job search process, including resume writing, interview techniques, computer training and other life skills.
The PFC Nicholas A. Madaras Home is named in tribute to a young soldier from Wilton, Connecticut. The organization Nick’s family and friends developed in his memory, Kick for Nick, was an integral part of making the vision for FS: FH a reality. Visit kickfornick.org to learn more about Nick Madaras, Kick for Nick and the collaboration that has helped over 100 women Veterans regain their independence to date.
The guest speaker was Homes for the Brave board member and veteran Juliet Taylor. She spoke of her time in the service as well as adjusting to civilian life after being injured in battle and dealing with PTSD. In 2002 Staff Sergeant Juliet Taylor enlisted in the US Army. After her initial training, Juliet was mobilized and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. She was medically retired in 2014. She spends her day working in the community as an avid Veteran Advocate and a Reintegration Support Specialist while earning her degree in Public Health.
Juliet continues to serve her community through several non-profit organizations: Am Vet, Post 43; DAV Chapter 13; Operation Gift Cards; Habitat for Heroes Fairfield Coastal County; Female Soldier Forgotten Heroes: Homes for the Brave; Trumbull Rotary; and VFW Post 10059.
“Many, many thanks to the Knights of Columbus for inviting me to speak at last night’s dinner. The pleasure was all mine. It was an enormous privilege to have been given the opportunity to address this great community which supports Veterans in their need to make a strong transition back to civilian society. The love and admiration I received was overwhelming and inspiring,” said Taylor.
Ribellino had a vision of a fundraiser once a year for a specific Veterans or Law Enforcement Organization when elected to lead the Assembly in September 2016. “One of my goals, when I took over as the Faithful Navigator of the Assembly, was to assist an organization that works and helps our veterans and our law enforcement”, he said. 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 being in charge of the kitchen. I am thankful for him and the Brother Knights and members of St. Ann Club who prepared a delicious Italian meal.
In addition, Assembly 100 wanted to do something for the youth and future leaders in our community so they decided to help the young men and woman in the Norwalk Public Safety Cadets Post 1913.
“My daughter is a member of the Norwalk Public Safety Cadets and I see the program has done for her by helping her grow into a disciplined young lady, so we’re thrilled to help such a great group of young adults,” said Ribellino.
The Norwalk Public Safety Cadets assisted with serving and clean up. Ribellino went on to say, “I was so impressed at how the Cadets jumped right in and made the attendees feel right at home. I am so grateful for the help they provided. We were happy to return the favor with the donation of Post t-shirts and supplies for their hard and exemplary work.”
Public Safety Cadet advisor, Norwalk Police Officer Chris Holms acknowledged the crew of cadets by having them come up to the podium while he spoke of the program and how proud he is of the hard work and dedication they give to the program and community.
The Public Safety Cadet program is a shared program between the Norwalk Police and Fire Departments for youth ages 13-20. This program gives youth the opportunity to learn about both departments while participating in community service and learning leadership.
At the end of the evening, Ribellino presented a check for $1500 to Taylor and Elizabeth Gorenbergh from Homes for the Brave.
“Homes for the Brave is so proud of board member Taylor, who gave an awesome presentation as the guest speaker for the Knights of Columbus Bishop Fenwick Assembly’s Patriot Day Dinner. In addition, we are incredibly grateful to Bishop Fenwick Assembly for this remarkable contribution to our Female House, the PFC Nicholas A. Madaras Home for Female Veterans and for the Assembly’s amazing support of our organization throughout the year,” said Vince Santilli, CEO of Homes for the Brave.
Bishop Fenwick Assembly 100 4th Degree Knights of Columbus, has been based in Norwalk, Conn., since 1914. The Fourth Degree is the outgrowth and culmination of the desire of the members to manifest their love for country and pride in their Catholic American heritage. In 1882, the Reverend Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus to provide mutual aid and assistance to its members and their families. At that time the Order had only three degrees, exemplifying the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity. In compliance with the wishes of the body as a whole, the national board of directors met in August 1899 and approved the addition of a Fourth Degree to the work of the Knights of Columbus. The new ritual was adopted on the 9th of December that year and went into effect in 1900 with its primary purpose to foster the spirit of patriotism through the demonstration of one’s love for its country and by responsible citizenship. It is the highest Degree in the Knights of Columbus, giving a greater knowledge and appreciation for our Catholic heritage.
(For more information, go to Assembly100.org.)