Several years ago, Bob Rawe of Stanwood came up with a simple yet powerful idea to show appreciation for local veterans. He founded Take a Vet to Lunch
, a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing social outlets for veterans.
Most of Rawe's efforts have been put toward organizing an annual recognition dinner for veterans, hosted by citizens and business people and providing a free meal, entertainment and the chance for vets to share their stories.
"First Gentleman" Mike Gregoire was the guest speaker at the first dinner, and artist Michael Reagan, who provides portraits of fallen soldiers, was the special guest the following year.
A few months ago, Rawe decided to expand on his mission and began seeking out opportunities to provide other types of activities for veterans, many of whom have special accommodation needs.
"We've started to go in a different direction this summer," said Rawe, "and are focusing on finding social activities for folks who might otherwise not have the opportunity to enjoy these community events."
The first outing was a trip to see Arlington High School's spring production of "Noises Off," a comedy farce presented at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center. The veterans who attended were impressed with the students' abilities and enjoyed the hilarious live show.
Next up was an evening of patriotic music at the July 2 Hometown Hootenanny
, which was a big success for the ten special needs veterans who participated.
Tickets for the Hootenanny were donated by Red Curtain Productions
, which presents the monthly music show at the Historic Everett Theatre. Roy Robinson Chevrolet
provided transportation, offering two vans and drivers. Take a Vet to Lunch paid for dinner before the show at the Denny's Restaurant at Island Crossing, thanks to a grant from the Coastal Community Bank Employees Giving Fund, which is administered through the Greater Everett Community Foundation
"It takes a lot of time and people to put these events together," said Rawe, "and we're really looking for community-minded people who would like to be a volunteer or even a member of our Board of Directors."
"It's hard work, but it's also a lot of fun," Rawe promised.
Take a Vet to Lunch is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and Rawe currently serves as its president. To find out more, visit www.takeavettolunch.com
, or phone (425) 530-7453.