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Elks Dedicate Wheel Chair Ramp Donated to Dinda House

Ribbon Cutting
Ribbon cutting, left to right -
Kevin Corcoran, Lodge Veterans Chair;
Joe Sternburg;
Manchester Mayor Joe Louis Spadaccini;
Shannon Fry, VSF and Dinda Case Manager and
Phil Stender, Exalted Ruler of the Lodge.

Manchester Elks Lodge BPOE 1893 recently completed work on a wheel chair ramp for the Michael J Dinda house located in Manchester, CT. The Dinda house is a ”transitional” house for homeless veterans, one of several, owned and operated by the Veterans Support Foundation (VSF), a 501 c 3 charity, www.vsf-usa.org. This dedication took place on August 25, 2009. The ramp completion and dedication was just the most recent donation to the Dinda house and its veteran residents by the Elks. Over the past months, the Lodge personnel and its Veterans Committee have painted rooms, buffed floors, given food for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, provided furniture and much more.

Dinda House
Center Street view of Dinda house before ramp.
Side View
Side view of Dinda house before ramp
After Ramp
Center Street view of Dinda house after ramp installation
Side View

Side view of Dinda house after ramp installation

The Michael J Dinda House is named after a former AT & T (formerly SNET) employee who bravely gave his life during the Vietnam War.
In June of 1968, Michael graduated from high school and joined SNET as a coin collector.
In February of 1969, he joined the Army and volunteered to serve in Vietnam.
Michael completed basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey and began a tour of duty in Vietnam on September 15, 1969.

In less than one year, he had attained the rank of Specialist 4.

On December 29, 1969, Michael Dinda was killed in action by a sniper who shot him as he was getting water from a well in Quang Ngai (Quang Nigh).

Michael was only 19 years old.

Dinda Group
Kevin Corcoran, Elks Lodge Veterans Chairman, prior to dedication

Dinda Group
Lodge Exalted Ruler Phil Stender (on right), enjoying one of the speakers

Dinda Group

From left to right - Manchester Mayor, Joe Louis Spadaccini; VSF Senior Case Manager Mae Brown; VSF Treasurer, Jim Grissom; Joe Sternburg and VSF and Dinda Case Manager Shannon Fry.

Dinda Group

Left to right – Michael Barta, Past District Deputy (PDD) and Vice President East District Connecticut Elks Association (CEA); Steven Ferraro, PDD and Vice President CEA of the Central District; Daniel Skiba, PDD and President CEA; Richard Kozek, District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler; Walter Birdsell, PDD and State Chairman Veterans Service CEA; Richard Berthiaume, Past Exalted Ruler and East District Chairman Veteran Services CEA.

Dinda Group

House Residents, left to right – Gary, Victor, Anthony, Philip, Michael, Marvin and Henry.

Dinda Group

Left to right – Bob Lovett Past Exalted Ruler, Brendan Moriarty Past Exalted Ruler and co-chair Veterans Committee, Kevin Corcoran Chair Veterans Committee, Scott Cratty Esteemed Loyal Knight (his company provided ramp materials), Ann Carson, Joe Brooks, Beverly LaChapelle and Randy Dumond (lead carpenter on project).


The Veterans Support Foundation (VSF) was incorporated as the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund (VVAF) in 1991 in the state of Delaware and in early 1992, received its tax exempt status as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization. In 2008, VVAF changed its name to the Veterans Support Foundation (VSF) to acknowledge its support of all veterans from all eras.

In 1992, then VVAF along with the Veterans Administration Connecticut (VA CT) Healthcare System, West Haven campus formed a joint venture named Project Partnership. VVAF would use a $500,000 grant awarded from the Connecticut Department of Social Services to purchase housing for homeless and disabled veterans. This partnership of VVAF owned housing and VA’s comprehensive program of clinical, social and case management services was a creative and realistic approach to providing the supportive atmosphere needed for homeless and disabled veterans to be successful in making the transition from living on the streets and hospital wards to finding meaningful and productive lives. The uniqueness of this co-operative effort was noted in the 1993 US Department of Veterans Affairs Report to Congress as being a “most effective mechanism for augmenting available rehabilitation housing stock for disabled veterans”.

Starting in 1992 through 2003, VVAF purchased and opened to residents, five houses in the state of Connecticut. Located in West Haven are two transitional houses and two houses for supportive permanent housing. The fifth house, a transitional residence, is located in the city of Manchester.

Over the past years, VSF (VVAF) has used funds received from grants, private donations, and the Combined Federal Campaign to provide housing to hundreds of veterans who sought help in making a transition from homeless veteran to once again being a contributing community member. These veterans represent every branch of the U.S. Military as well as the Army National Guard and every era from Post-Korean War to the current Global War on Terror.

Shannon Fry
Dinda Case Manager, Shannon Fry
presenting a VSF plaque of appreciation
to Exalted Ruler of the Lodge Phil Stender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an acknowledgement of the great support the VSF and veterans have received from BPOE 1893, VSF presented a plaque of appreciation to the Elks worded as follows:

VETERANS SUPPORT FOUNDATION WITH OUR DEEPEST APPRECIATION TO THE MANCHESTER ELKS LODGE BPOE 1893 FOR THEIR DEDICATION TO VETERANS AND THE VSF HOMELESS VETERANS PROGRAM AND THEIR GENEROUS SUPPORT OF THE MICHAEL J. DINDA HOUSE

Skiba
Dan Skiba, CT Elks Association President addresses the attendees

Ramp Builders
Ramp builders – left to right – Phil Stender Exalted Ruler, Randy Dumond lead carpenter/job foreman,
Mile Zotta III, Mike Zotta Jr.

Plaque
Close up of plaque

attendees
Attendees

Following the dedication ceremony all of the attendees were invited to the lodge headquarters for a reception. A good time was had by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINALLY, ONCE AGAIN, A HUGE “THANK YOU” TO THE MEMBERS OF MANCHESTER ELKS LODGE BPOE 1893 AND ELKS MEMBERS THROUGHOUT THE US WHO PARTICIPATED IN AND CONTRIBUTED TO THE RECENTLY COMPLETED MICHAEL MANNING CAN PROGRAM.

 

Keith King, President - August 25, 2009