Dejana Foundation donates $10,000 to Glen Cove VFW post devastated by fire

Dejana Foundation donates $10,000 to Glen Cove VFW post devastated by fire
Ten Thousand Dollar Check Presented to VFW Post 347. Pictured L-R (front row): Former Congressman Tom Suozzi, Mayor Pam Panzenbeck, Firefighter Peter Prudente (Presenting on behalf of Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation), Tribute and Honor Foundation President Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, Tribute and Honor Foundation 2nd Vice President Connie Pinilla. L-R 2nd (second row): VFW Member Joseph Lavery, VFW Member Duke Presky, VFW Trustee Joseph Moores, VFW Member and Liaison to Tribute and Honor Foundation Howard Stillwagon, Tribute and Honor Foundation Treasurer Thomas Bunger. (Photo courtesy of VFW Post 347)

Glen Cove’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 347 received a $10,000 donation from the Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation to aid in rehabilitating the post’s building after a devastating fire in 2021.

“We are committed to supporting our veterans, locally and afar,” Peter Dejana, president of the Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation, said at the event. “It is important to have a post where veterans can gather and receive the programs and services they require. Both Jeri and I are proud to assist Glen Cove’s VFW Post 347 to rebuild their post.”

The donation is part of a sponsorship for the Tribute and Honor Foundation’s Phoenix Rising Awards held in February in Glen Cove.

The Tribute and Honor Foundation, formerly the Phoenix Rising Committee, was founded in response to the fire at the VFW Post 347. The organization serves the VFW and the veteran community and has raised more than $52,000 for Post 347, including the most recent donation.

The donation was presented to the post on March 24 in front of Glen Cove’s VFW Post members, Board Members of the Tribute and Honor Foundation, elected officials and friends. The ceremony was arranged by Glen Cove firefighter and 2023 Phoenix Rising Award recipient Pete Prudente.

The VFW Post 347 suffered an electrical fire on Aug. 24, 2021. Prudente said he was the first firefighter to arrive at the scene and assisted in limiting the damage to the building.

He said that the insurance funds from the fire didn’t cover the extent of repairs needed, so the aid from the community and local fundraisers has been crucial.

“[The donation is] really going to close the gap for [members] to get back into their post,” Prudente said.

Firefighter and Phoenix Rising Award Honoree Pete Prudente (L) with Glen Cove Mayor Pam Panzenbeck (R). Following the check presentation ceremony, those gathered for the event were invited for a tour of the VFW Hall. Construction is underway following the post’s devastating fire in August of 2021. (Photo courtesy of VFW Post 347)

The post is the location where VFW Post 347 members meet for their Saturday lunches and post meetings. Prudente said that the post also rents out their hall, which is a large revenue source for the organization.

Prudente said he is a long-term friend of the Dejanas and worked with them directly to establish the donation for the post. He said that small, local organizations tend to struggle due to low membership and lack of funding, so support from people like the Dejanas is important.

The Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation previously donated another $10,000 in March 2022, making this their second donation to the post.

“This [donation] is going to get them back up and running,” Prudente said. “The community is really grateful to the Dejanas to see this happen. It’s a big help what they’re doing.”

Prudente said that construction has begun on the building, and should be done within a few months. He said the funding the post has received thus far should be enough to support the extent of repair needed.

While Prudente is not a veteran, telling Blank Slate how he was too young to enroll in the Vietnam War despite attempts to and then not young enough to participate in Desert Storm, he volunteers and supports multiple VFW Posts and American Legions in the area. His work includes coordinating events and preparing lunches for the posts.

“I’m a servant to the vets,” Prudente said.

At the 2023 Phoenix Rising Awards, Prudente was awarded the Homefront Award, a nod to the veterans who stayed home during World War II to help veterans who returned home, for his work supporting local veterans. He said that VFWs do not typically honor civilians for their work, so receiving this award was a great honor.

“I’m privileged and honored to be able to serve veterans who have always protected our freedoms,” Prudente said. “If you love your freedom, thank a vet.”

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