Award Ceremony and Fundraising Gala will be held in February
Many may remember the Award Ceremony and Fundraising Event sponsored by the Phoenix Rising Committee held this past February at The View Grill. Founded in December of 2021, the Phoenix Rising Committee (now renamed Phoenix Rising Foundation), in collaboration with James E. Donahue VFW Post 347, hosted a fundraiser at Glen Cove’s The View Grill. The event raised over $20,000 for the Post.
Soon after the event the ten-member Executive Committee and the Committee-at-large of Phoenix Rising decided to make the award ceremony and fundraising event an annual celebration. In collaboration with VFW Post 347, the Second Annual Phoenix Rising Awards and Fundraising Gala will be held on February 4, 2023, at Glen Cove’s The Metropolitan. The beneficiary of the event will, once again, be VFW Post 347. “The VFW Post is still short of the funds needed to build back their post and our hope is to help the post not only rebuild the post stronger than ever, but also create a surplus to serve the post’s forward march. That building not only serves our veterans and our community, but it is also a testament to the bravery of our veterans and their sacrifice in preserving our freedom,” said Phoenix Rising Vice President Jeanine DiMenna.
Six of the ten awards to be presented are specifically designated to honor veterans, with four of the awards designated to be presented to veteran supporters. The recipients were chosen through a selection process involving the VFW Commander, the VFW Liaison to the foundation, and the foundation’s board. Those who will be receiving awards in February were named in an Announcement Ceremony and Press Conference held on Sunday, September 18th, at Glen Cove’s Morgan Park. Other announcements were made at the event including the organization’s name change from Phoenix Rising Committee to Phoenix Rising Foundation, the creation of a task force to complete the foundation’s process of becoming a non-profit organization, and the naming of Vietnam War Veteran, VFW Post 347 member, and last year’s Phoenix Rising Community Service Award Recipient, Howard Stillwagon, as the VFW’s Liaison to the foundation’s board. Stillwagon will be taking the place of Glenwood Landing American Legion Post 336 Commander and Vice Commander of VFW Post 347, David Whitting, who is moving out of state and thus stepping down from his position with the foundation.
The ten awards to be presented in February of 2023, a description of the awards, and the individuals to receive the awards are as follows. The description also notes the 2022 recipients, who received awards this past February:
The LEGACY AWARD will be presented to a VFW Post 347 member for their long-time commitment to serving VFW Post 347, fellow veterans, and the community. This year’s recipient is former VFW Post Commander, Ben Farnan. The 2023 recipient will be Glen Cove Volunteer Firefighter, Glen Cove American Legion Post 76 Commander, and VFW Post 347 Past Commander and Chaplain, Vincent Martinez Sr.
The COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD will be presented to a VFW Post 347 member for going over and beyond the call of duty in serving the post and the people of the North Shore. This year’s recipient is VFW Post member Howard Stillwagon. The 2023 recipient will be VFW Post 347 Quartermaster, William Lawson.
The VOLUNTEER AWARD will be presented to a VFW Post 347 member in recognition of service as a volunteer in supporting the post and the community. This year’s recipient is VFW Post Trustee, Joseph Moores. The 2023 recipient will be Exempt Firefighter and VFW Post 347 Past Commander, Thomas Kenary Sr.
The HOMEFRONT AWARD will be presented to a non-veteran for outstanding volunteer service to the members of VFW Post 347. This year’s recipient is architect, George Suddell. The 2023 recipient will be Glen Cove Volunteer Fire Fighter, VFW Post 347 volunteer, and President of Port Washington’s John Michael Marion Lodge, Pete Prudente.
The UNITY AWARD will be presented to a veteran for outstanding service to fellow veterans and for being a unifying force throughout the community. This year’s recipient is City of Glen Cove Director of Veteran Affairs and Young Simmons American Legion Post 1765 Post member, Anthony Jimenez. The 2023 recipient will be Young Simmons American Legion Post 1765 Commander and active member of Calvary A.M.E. Church, David Hubbard.
The IMPACT AWARD will be presented to a leader in the veteran community who has made a strong impact among his or her fellow veterans and in the community. This is a new award. The 2023 recipient will be Retired Marine Sergeant and Poet Laureate of Nassau County, Evelyn Kandel, who served in Washington D.C. during the Korean War.
The FRONT RUNNER AWARD will be presented to an individual and/or organization that has made a major impact by being the “front runner” in raising funds to support veterans and the families of our veterans. This is a new award. The 2023 recipient will be marathon runner and TEAM E.V.A. (Every Veteran Appreciated) founder Eva Casale. Casale will share the honor with her team.
The HONORING AWARD will be presented to an individual who has worked to honor our active duty military personnel and our veterans and has made a special point of paying tribute to our war dead. This is a new award. The 2023 recipient will be Troop 6 Boy Scout and Glen Cove High School Senior, Genalie Prezeau.
The AWARENESS AND REMEMBRANCE AWARD will be presented to an individual who has worked to heighten awareness as it relates to the alarming rate of suicide among our active service members and veterans and who has encouraged all of us to remember service members and veterans who have perished due to suicide. This is a new award. The 2023 recipient will be Founder and President of Heroes Among Us, Virginia Cervasio.
The September 18, 2022 event was attended by members of James E. Donahue VFW Post 347, Glen Cove American Legion Post 76, Glen Cove American Legion Young-Simmons Post 1765, Boy Scout Troop 6, elected officials including Assemblyman Chuck Lavine, Councilman Jack Mancusi, and Councilwoman Danielle Fugazy Scagliola, Board Members of the Glen Cove Chamber of
Commerce, the North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, TEAM E.V.A., and Heroes Among Us. Also in attendance were North Shore Biz Network’s Promotions Manager, Gracie Donaldson, members of the Gold Coast Business Association, and many friends and veteran supporters. A congratulatory statement was read on behalf of Mayor Panzenbeck, who had a previous family commitment. Refreshments were provided by Glen Cove Bagel Cafe, Frank’s Beverage, Hooked and Battered, The Metropolitan, and The View Grill.
Following Sunday’s event, Vincent Martinez Sr., who will be receiving the 2023 Legacy Award, said, “I am honored to be receiving the award and am hopeful that we have a strong turnout for the event in February.” Reached at his home in Glen Cove, Henryk Nowicki, Commander of VFW Post 347, and this year’s Leadership Award recipient added, “The group from Phoenix Rising did a great job with the Award Ceremony and Fundraising event this past February. We are pleased and appreciative that they are doing it again and having the post, once again, be the beneficiary. I also thank everyone in the city and nearby communities for the past donations to help the Post out.”
When asked about the February 2023 event and being honored, Glen Cove Volunteer Fire Fighter, VFW Post 347 volunteer, and President of Port Washington’s John Michael Marion Lodge, Pete Prudente, expressed, “It is so important that we honor our veterans at every opportunity. Having an opportunity to help out at the VFW has been a privilege. I am honored and humbled to be receiving the 2023 award.” “I was surprised and honored to hear about being named as a 2023 award recipient and especially pleased that the entire Team is being honored,” said Eva Casale, Founder of Team E.V.A. “We are looking forward to the February 4th event.”
While Heroes Among Us Founder and President, Virginia Cervasio, shared that she is humbled and honored to be receiving the Awareness and Remembrance Award, she expressed that she is also grateful for the opportunity to shine light on the escalating challenge of suicide in the veteran community. “According to statistics, it is estimated that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day. Those who work with the veteran community, believe this number is much higher,” said Cervasio. “I applaud the foundation for choosing to draw attention to this issue and I will be accepting the honor in February in memory of my son, Locust Valley native, Angelo Cervasio.”
“It is truly a team effort. None of this would be possible were it not for the help of Jeanine Dimenna, who serves as Vice President, Angelina Stanco Stone, who serves as Secretary, the other seven incredible board members, and, the strong leadership of VFW Post 347 and the post’s graciousness in allowing us to work with them,” said Phoenix Rising Foundation President Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews. “It’s important to note, while we are honored to be one of the supporters of the VFW Post’s rebuild following the fire, many, many others have also been so incredibly generous. We are one part of the equation,” added Stevenson-Mathews.
In addition to the President, Vice President, and Secretary already noted, the other members of the board include Eva Casale, Mike Gadaleta, Dana Glidden, Connie Pinilla, Mary Stanco, Noah Stone, and Mary Suddell. There is also a 20-member “Committee-at-large” that lends support to the organization as volunteers and in the form of financial giving.
Tickets to the February 4th Awards Ceremony and Fundraising Gala, in support of VFW Post 347, will go on sale at www.phoenixrisingawards.com starting in October. Sponsorships are already being accepted. As of the publication date of this article, the foundation is pleased to announce that it has already received a generous gift at the Bronze Star Sponsorship level of $1,000 from Heroes Among Us. The Phoenix Rising Foundation hopes to secure several additional sponsors on the front end of its fundraising efforts. Sponsorship levels include Medal of Honor Sponsor ($10,000), Distinguished Service Cross Sponsor ($5,000), Silver Star Sponsor ($3,000), Bronze Star Sponsor ($1000), and Meritorious Service Sponsor ($500). Individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in joining the list of sponsors are urged to contact organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Checks should be made payable to “VFW Post 347.”
–PHOENIX RISING FOUNDATION