Veterans feel the gratitude at annual Worth event

  • Written by Joe Boyle

sing for vets photo 5-24

                                                                      Photo by Joe Boyle

Local singers (from left) Kim Ulrich, Pam Giera and Tammi Lontka perform for the veterans who attended the special brunch held in their honor Saturday at the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991 in Worth.


Veterans and their guests sat down for a brunch and shared stories with other veterans and local residents.

But one veteran who preferred to remain anonymous said it was more than the food and the activities.

“They thanked me for my service,” he said. “That means a lot to me.”

He was one of large crowd of veterans and guests who attended the sixth annual Honoring Veterans Brunch that was held Saturday at the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991, 11001 S. Depot St., Worth.

The annual event is actually sponsored by members of St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church in Worth. The first three years the brunch was held at the church, 11007 S. 76th Ave., but the event has grown in size since its inception. The last three years the brunch has been held at the Marrs-Meyer Post, with members of the auxiliary and post assisting to make this a special day for the veterans.

This year had the largest response yet, according to Vivian Falcone, a longtime member of St. Mark’s Church and one of the organizers of the event.

Richards High School was represented by two members who have been with the Navy JROTC drill team and entertained the crowd at the beginning of the brunch. Steve Grant, a 2015 graduate of Richards, was a member of the Navy JROTC drill team who took part in the activities. The other participant was Richards junior Luis Gabriel-Melendez.

Grant and Gabriel-Melendez, both Oak Lawn residents, said they enjoyed performing for the veterans.

“This was great and we are glad we had a chance to do this,” Grant said. “Of course, we had to watch it because we could not go to high because of the low ceiling.”

While the veterans ate their meals and desserts, they were entertained by three singers who volunteered to entertain the special guests. Kim Yulrich, Pam Giera and Tammi Lontka sang a variety of tunes ranging from “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Happy Days Are Here Again” to more contemporary songs like “Sweet Caroline,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Let It Be.” Songbooks were passed to everyone in attendance who wanted to sing along.

Worth Boy Scouts 668 and Cub Scout Pack 3668 also attended the brunch and met many of the veterans. The scout groups are based out of St. Mark’s Church, where they hold their meetings.

Two members of Cub Scout Pack 3668 were later honored with Supernova awards for their achievements in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Kathy Frantzen, a Boys Scouts of America Supernova mentor who was not able to attend the event, said the award is special.

“It is a STEM award that takes a lot to earn and not many scouts in our area have completed this,” Frantzen wrote.

The two Cub Scouts who received the Dr. Luis Alvarez Awards were Roman Bruno-Rivera, 9, and Christian Bruno, 7. They were presented with their medals during a ceremony held near the Worth Boat Launch. They were presented with the awards by Mike Maddox, district chairman for the scouts, who was representing Frantzen. Cubmaster Ken Soldan was also on hand for the ceremony.

“This is a special award that not many scouts receive,” Maddox said. “This meant that you put in a lot of hard work.”

And to make day even more special for Roman was that it was his birthday as well. He told his mother, Donna Bruno, this was his best birthday. Christian is also Bruno’s grandson.

“It’s a big deal to do this,” said Donna Bruno. “They had to do a lot of activities during the year and learn a lot about science.”

The awards were presented in conjunction with the Honoring Veterans Brunch because the event at the Marrs-Meyer Post and the scouts are affiliated with St. Mark’s Church, which holds a close place in Falcone’s heart.

“It was a great event,” Falcone said.

She applauded the efforts of the sponsors who helped make the brunch become a reality. She thanked the staff at Jack and Pat’s store in Chicago Ridge for supplying all the food. She said they were “so gracious” to help out.

And the annual Honoring Veterans Brunch keeps becoming a larger event every year.

“It started out at our outdoor markets at St. Mark’s,” said Falcone, who lived in Worth for over 40 years before moving to Tinley Park. “Then we just started inviting veterans and honoring them. It sort of started there. The first three years we officially did this was at St. Mark’s Church and the last three here. It just keeps getting better. The veterans are very appreciative.”

Falcone said they had an abundance of prizes this year and every veteran went home with a prize.

“A few of us ladies will go out with the prizes that are left and bring them to the veteran’s at Mateno’s,” Falcone said.

Falcone said with the continuing success of the brunch, it will be back next year.

“Oh yes,” she said. “We just like to do this for the veterans and St. Mark’s. I just have a love for my church and my God.”