Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Montco Employees Help Veterans with 'Stars & Strikes For Vets'

With kind hearts and in the spirit of giving, a group of Montgomery County Court employees has organized a fundraiser to assist veterans - a way, they say, to “give back to those who gave so much.”

Dubbed “Stars and Strikes For Vets,” the event, open to court clerks, reporters and other courthouse employees, will be held Dec. 2 at Facenda Whitaker Lanes in East Norriton from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Donations of $30 will include unlimited bowling and pizza. The deadline to register is Friday, so get out your bowling shoes for a great cause.

Organizers said the proceeds of the fundraiser will be donated to “Vets for Vets,” a nonprofit organization that assists returning local veterans during their readjustment from military to civilian life, including helping vets find transitional housing.

Contact court clerk Ali Hasapes at AHasapes@montcopa.org for more information, to register or to make a donation.

Initially, organizers thought a bowling party would be a great way for court clerks and court stenographers to bond with one another. But a greater endeavor soon took root.

“One day we were sitting down and thought that it would be a nice idea to bowl for a purpose. We tossed some ideas around and we realized that the vets would be a great choice for our fundraiser,” explained Lisa Neal, a court stenographer and the daughter of an Army veteran and the sister of a Navy veteran.

Neal also works in the courtroom of President Judge William J. Furber Jr., who presides over the county’s Veteran’s Court.

Hasapes, granddaughter of an Army vet, said the idea “took off nicely” and gained lots of support. To date, about 35 county employees have signed up to bowl. Others have simply donated money to the cause.

Ali Hasapes (left) and Lisa Neal (right)/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.
“Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of it,” said Hasapes, court clerk for Judge Thomas C. Branca. “We are competing against the holidays so to everyone who has already signed up or given donations, I want to thank you for the support.”

The organizers have also set up collection boxes at two locations in the courthouse for people to donate personal care items, such as shampoo, body wash, shaving cream and toothpaste, which will be presented to veterans in gift baskets.

“I think this is just a way to show them that people care,” said Neal. “Everybody at some point in their life needs a little bit of help, no matter who they are. It shows people that society does have a heart.

“We live in such a fast-paced world that just to take the time out to say, ‘Thank you,’ it means a lot to anybody, especially men and women who have (served their country) and seen the things they’ve seen or lived through the things they’ve lived through,” Neal added.

Hasapes said the donation to “Vets for Vets” is even more poignant because it’s being made in memory of Eric J. D’Ercole, a 34-year-old popular court clerk who passed away unexpectedly on April 10 at his Phoenixville residence. D’Ercole was a graduate of St. Pius X High School and was a retired Army veteran, having served in Bravo Company 1-111th IN.

Other court employees who helped organize the event include, Monica Pokorny, Rukshanna McLauren, Anita Huber and Megan McCartin.

“It makes me feel good to help others,” echoed Neal and Hasapes.

I’m sure the veterans are appreciative of the support and gratitude. The small gathering of compassionate people will make a big impression on those you help.

I commend Neal and Hasapes for spearheading the event. You are a great example of county employees going the extra mile to help others. Your kindness and generosity should serve as an inspiration to others, especially as the holiday season approaches.

Now go out there and bowl some STRIKES!

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