Community turns out for the Tribute and Honor Foundation’s announcement event
Sunday, Sept. 24 marked the day the Tribute and Honor Foundation announced the honorees for the Third Annual Phoenix Rising Awards. At the event, it was also announced that a scholarship had been established by the young foundation in honor of Korean War veteran Ben Faran. The free press event was held at the North Shore Historical Museum with the purpose of announcing the individuals and organizations to be honored at the Phoenix Rising Awards ceremony, which will be held on Feb. 3, 2024, at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville, New York. In spite of the rain, there was a strong turnout for the press event including veterans, veteran supporters, liaison members, community leaders, elected officials, and many others from across Long Island.
Anthony Anzalone, a lifelong Glen Cove resident and a retired Army Colonel with 28 years of service, will be presented the Foundation’s Legacy Award for being a veteran with a longtime commitment to serving fellow veterans, and the community. In addition to his many military honors, Anzalone is a longtime member of Glen Cove American Legion Post 76, where he serves as Adjutant to the post.
Luke Whitting will be receiving the Foundation’s Leadership Award for his exemplary leadership in serving fellow veterans and the community. Sergeant Whitting is Commander of American Legion Post 336 with multiple deployments including Afghanistan and Fort Bragg before being honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant in January of 2020.
Chad Ryals will be receiving the Foundation’s Community Service Award for going above and beyond the call of duty in serving fellow veterans and the people of the North Shore. Ryals is not only recognized for his role as Chaplain at James E. Donahue VFW Post 347, he is also recipient of three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star, and created a crisis hotline for veterans.
Dave Christie, longtime member of VFW Post 347, will be receiving the Foundation’s Volunteer Award not only for his two Navy deployments onboard the USS Bennington, but also for his active membership of 25 years in the Glen Cove Volunteer Fire Department. He is now a 50-year life member of the department.
Derek Valance, lifelong Glen Cove resident, former Navy SEAL and current Glen Cove Police officer will be receiving the Tribute and Honor Foundation’s Impact Award for his service and strong impact on the community as both a veteran and a first responder.
Lisa and Wayne Cohen, both non-veterans, will be receiving the Foundation’s Homefront Award, an award presented to non-veteran individuals for their outstanding service to the veteran community. Their service to the community comes from their membership in Rolling Thunder New York Chapter 6. They are also supporters of many veteran causes across Long Island and beyond.
The Tribute and Honor Foundation’s Front Runner Award is presented to an organization that has made a major impact by being the “front runner” in supporting veterans and the families of our veterans. The recipient of this award will be Honor Flight Long Island. The organization is a regional hub in the national Honor Flight Network with a mission to honor America’s World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans by providing an all-expenses-paid, round-trip excursion to their Memorials in Washington DC.
The Foundation’s Awareness and Remembrance Award is presented to individuals who have worked to heighten awareness as it relates to the alarming rate of suicide among our service members and veterans. The award recipients who were named this past Saturday to receive the 2024 Awareness and Remembrance Award are Stefan and Jenny Hespeler. The Hespelers are veteran advocates and founders of Operation VEST, an organization with a mission to eradicate suicide one person at a time by addressing the different needs of our veteran population.
President of the Glen Cove City PBA Ryan Nardone, commented “We could not be more proud of Officer Derek Valance and are pleased he will be receiving this honor. Having grown up in Glen Cove, not only does he have a strong grasp on the needs of the community, his experience in having served our nation as a Navy SEAL brings a wealth of knowledge in protecting our residents. We are fortunate to have Officer Derek Valance on the force. The Glen Cove PBA congratulates Officer Derek Valance and all of those who will be honored.”
The Tribute and Honor Foundation (formerly Phoenix Rising Committee) began in December of 2021 in response to the devastating fire that occurred at VFW Post 347 in August of that year. To date, with the gracious support of the community, the young veteran support organization has helped sponsor programs such as the VetNow Program at the Glen Cove Library, and has honored close to 20 Long Island veterans and veteran supporters via the Phoenix Rising Awards. Over $40,000 has been raised to aid Glen Cove’s local VFW post with the rebuild of their hall following a devastating fire in August of 2021. “As proud as I am of our board, liaison members, and volunteers, our ability to make a difference has been thanks to the support and caring of the people of Glen Cove, Long Island, and beyond. We have an incredible community and our veterans should be supported at every opportunity. I am pleased that our foundation has been able to help and we have high hopes that we are going to be able to do much more,” said Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, president of the foundation. Reached at his home in Glen Cove, Henryk Nowicki, Commander of VFW Post 347, and 2023 recipient of the Leadership Award added, “This group has not only helped raise significant funds to help with the rebuild of VFW Post 347, but they have also put together a very impressive annual event honoring all of our veterans. I was also very pleased to hear about the Tribute and Honor Foundation’s scholarship being established to honor Korean War Veteran and former Commander of the Post, Ben Farnan. Our Post is grateful to everyone in the city and nearby communities who have helped make the rebuild of our Post possible.”
Tickets to the Feb. 3 Awards Ceremony and Fundraising Gala are already on sale via the foundation’s website noted below. The event will be held at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville, NY starting at 6 p.m. Discounts are available to veterans, for tables of 10, and to those who purchase tickets early.
The Tribute and Honor Foundation is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For information on the foundation or to purchase tickets or sponsorships in support of the foundation’s upcoming Awards Ceremony and Fundraising Gala visit www.phoenixrisingawards.com.
—Submitted by Tribute and Honor Foundation