By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent November 16, 2012 4:06PM
The Pledge of Allegiance is recited before the third annual Veterans Recognition Dinner at Geisen Funeral, Cremation and Reception Centre in Crown Point, Ind., on Nov. 8, 2012. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 19, 2012 12:51PM
While golfing in a local fundraiser three years ago, Bob Carnagey of Valparaiso noticed a bucket asking for a $1 donation per round.
The name on the bucket was Folds of Honor.
“I had no idea what it was for at the time, but when I found out later, it changed my life,” he said.
What Carnagey found through his research was, the Folds of Honor Foundation gives support to spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to America.
The group provides scholarships and other help.
Carnagey recently told his story to 100 guests at the Geisen Funeral, Cremation and Reception Centre hall during the third annual Veterans Recognition Dinner for military personnel and their spouses.
“The idea came from Larry Geisen; he feels it’s important to give back to the community in many ways,” said Jean K. Lahm, Geisen’s community relations director who organized the event. “He wanted to do something special for the veterans, and a complimentary dinner came to mind, since we have a convenient way to host it.
“We have a beautiful reception center at the funeral home.”
Capacity for the room is 100, so that’s how many people attend the dinner each year, she said.
The first year, Lahm and her committee brainstormed ideas for an agenda.
“We came up with a program before dinner that features speakers from different veterans organizations,” she said. “This is a way we can bring valuable information to our veterans and give the organizations an opportunity to talk about their goals.”
Besides Carnagey, Michael Sparber of the Northwest Indiana Veterans Action Coalition spoke. He was inspired to join the group in honor of his son’s service in the Indiana National Guard and in Iraq
“We have four missions: to help and assist homeless veterans, help find jobs for veterans, recognize academic initiatives such as scholarships, and establish a veterans treatment court,” Sparber said.
Alvin and Laverne Borman of Crown Point enjoyed socializing before dinner.
He served in the Army during the Korean War.
“This shows the community cares about their veterans and what they did,” Alvin said of the dinner. “This gives the recognition all vets deserve.”
As the guests reminisced about their tours of duty and how their personal lives were affected, new friendships were made, as well as reconnections among old friends.
“This is a great way to show appreciation for those who served in the armed forces,” said Jim Forsythe, an Army veteran and former Crown Point mayor. “It makes us think what we did was worthwhile.”