Oldies Dinner Dance boosts programs for veterans

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“It’s too bad we don’t have more space,” Raymond Denisewich, the Veterans of Foreign Wars service officer, said Saturday night inside Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812 on Plainfield Pike. “That would even mean more money to continue our support of disabled, distressed and homeless veterans.”

As it was, the Oldies Dinner Dance – which featured the culinary talents of chefs Greg and David Spirito – could have easily been called a night of VFW giving.

“Tonight’s sellout ensures the needed revenue to help our brother veterans,” said John “Jack” Hill, commander of the Giovanni Folcarelli DAV Chapter 1. “I personally want to thank each and every man and woman who bought a ticket for tonight’s dinner as well as the raffle tickets.”

For starters, Ann Palumbo of Cranston won the huge liquor wagon that was valued at more than $700.

After all the raffles were conducted, the committee presented Capt. Randall “Randy” Bagwell of Veterans Angler Charters with a check for $500, which the nonprofit will use to continue providing free, small-group fishing trips for injured and recovering veterans.

Yet another donation of $500 was made to Karen Dalton, president and founder of Dare to Dream Ranch, a nonprofit that provides alternate therapy programs for veterans and their families.

“Karen’s nonprofit also helps our veterans find passion and become successful citizens,” Denisewich said. “Those programs also include equine therapy, yoga, hypnotherapy, healthy cooking and exercise.”

Denisewich and his committee – which included his wife, Susan, Ernestine Vota, Adam DeCiccio, Michael Miele, Charles “Chuck” Palumbo, Jackie Brodeur, Gianna Melvin, MacKenzie Melvin and Giada Hernandez – transformed the Kelley-Gazzerro Post’s main dining room into a throwback to the ’50s and ’60s, complete with pictures of vehicles from that bygone era, stars of the stage and screen, historical Rhode Island and rock ‘n’ rolls stars of yesteryear.

Until late in the evening, people danced and enjoyed the oldies and doo-wop music played by famed disc jockey Tony Weaver, who Denisewich said “was the icing on the cake tonight – as he always is at this sellout party.”

While Denisewich served as the night’s master of ceremonies, Kasim Yarn, the state’s director of veterans affairs, delivered an inspirational and heartwarming welcome address.

“Thank you for coming,” Denisewich said while closing the evening’s speeches “and we hope to see you back here next year on Aug. 1, 2020.”

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