It was an ordinary Sunday mass at Bethel Assembly of God in Franklin Square in 2017 when one parishioner approached another to discuss a vision he’d had.
“He felt God gave him this vision,” said Anthony Andreano, Franklin Square resident and cofounder of Making All Veterans Smile Inc.. Andreano was referring to his future partner and fellow parishioner, Kenny Quigley. Both men have always had a passion for helping veterans, but had no outlet by which to help.
On April 7, their organization with the help of the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency, will host its first major event, a gala dubbed “a night of honor and giving,” to be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Oceanside. As a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization the founders will be giving all proceeds back to local veterans.
“I would give everything to the landlord,” said Karen Jones of Hempstead, when asked what she would do with the support. “I am more than three months behind in rent.” Jones is a US Navy veteran and a single mother of four, who served for nine years and was deployed in support of the Gulf War. She has faced many difficulties since transitioning from active duty. Most notably, her son Karon, 18, was found to have nine inoperable brain tumors last August, news that came after the family had been homeless for six months.
Paul Vista, deputy director of the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency, has been instrumental in helping veterans like Jones. Despite having one of the smallest budgets in Nassau County, Vista brings in roughly $5 million in federal aid benefits to Nassau County veterans every year. “These dollars are in fact helping veterans pay bills,” he said in a recent interview; helping to “alleviate medical bills and helping them stay in their homes or apartments.”
“When Paul came into our life we were living hotel to hotel,” said Jones. Since then, Vista has helped her find a job, an apartment and a car.
Information and sponsorship options for the upcoming gala event can be found here.