Stonington Veterans Memorial Committee Launches Summer Fundraising Campaign | Stoneton
STONINGTON – When Army and Korean War veteran Anthony L. Lombardo first learned that residents of Pawcatuck were ineligible to have their names added to the Veterans Memorial of The Western War in 2017, he said he knew he had an uphill battle to see those on the west side of the Pawcatuck River get the recognition they deserved.
Lombardo would never have thought that a few years later he would have received a level of community support that would allow him to bypass a legal roadblock, find and secure an important site for the monument and come up with a design that can honor around 7 000 known local residents who have served in the military to some extent since WWII.
“There was a 75-year gap in recognition, and when I brought it to the attention of the city and (First Selectman) Danielle (Chesebrough), she just asked, ‘How can we help.’ “Lombardo said on Wednesday. “Since that time everything has kind of come together naturally and I couldn’t be happier with the support and feedback I received.”
The only thing left between Lombardo and the construction announcement is fundraising – and a summer awareness campaign aims to see the money raised, minus taxpayer money, by the next Veterans Day. .
Organizing fundraising efforts, led by Executive Administrative Assistant Stacey Haskell, has already seen volunteers receive $ 13,460 in donations on Wednesday afternoon. Chesebrough said the effort had previously seen donations of as little as $ 5, with the largest being $ 10,000.
Chesebrough, who praised Haskell’s determination and dedication during off-peak hours and weekends to work with Lombardo, the Harley P. Chase VFW Post 1265 and advisory committee members to move fundraising forward, said what’s more exciting is that the committee has secured a table and tent that will be used to distribute materials and solicit donations at upcoming fun events summer.
“There are some really exciting opportunities here to push the needle on these fundraising efforts,” Chesebrough said this week. “The tables will allow us to publicize the project and gain the support of those in the community who may not be aware of what we are doing. We are eager to share our ideas.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic instability over the past year, Lombardo said he has been overwhelmed by the many local residents, officials and business owners who have rallied to try to make his dream come true.
After an attempt to partner with the City and the Pawcatuck Fire Department failed to find a home for the Conceptual Monument due to long-established deed restrictions, he returned to planking. drawing and enlisted the help of city officials. Over the past year the community has responded and a partnership with the Council of Police Commissioners has been developed which has resulted in the project being built in front of the Stonington Police Department.
The conceptual design for the memorial, which has since been developed by committee members, envisions the use of Vermont granite to honor approximately 7,000 people who have served the nation for the past 85 years. The proposed monument will be octagonal in shape and cover approximately 100 square feet, with a sidewalk surrounding the foundation that will be built by the city. The project is expected to cost $ 178,000 with the additional help of volunteers for the installation of the monument.
Once built, officials said the names of those who serve the country will be added in a ceremony each year.
“It was a great experience, just hearing from everyone what they think of the monument and how much they want to help,” Lombardo said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to think that I will be able to see this finished.”
Chesebrough said the committee was due to begin the fundraising campaign on July 4 with a presence at the annual parade in the Borough of Stonington. The table and tent will also be used by volunteers throughout the summer at events such as the Stonington Farmers Market, Stonington Village Fair, Mystical Outdoor Arts Festival and more.
Officials are also exploring grant possibilities, she said, and have set a tentative Veterans Day fundraising deadline to try to move the project forward. She noted that if fundraising efforts drag on, the project could be impacted by inflation.
“We’re definitely going to move forward anyway, but we figured a Veterans Day deadline would give us a potentially realistic goal and allow us to come together and see how things go,” she declared.
Those wishing to donate can do so by check payable to the town of Stonington (write the Stonington Veterans Memorial in the memo line). Checks can be deposited in the City Hall drop box or mailed to 152 Elm St., Stonington, CT, 06378.
Donations can also be made through VFW Post 1265, 160 S. Broad St. in Pawcatuck, or through the organization’s Venmo account at @ KenVFW1265.