Above / Table settings included copies of iconic patriotic posters such as Rosie the Riveter from World War II. (Photos courtesy James Hoch Photography)
Thirteen years ago, Naperville Responds for Veterans hosted its first breakfast at the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873. Spearheaded by Navy Veteran Jack Persin, Pat Bowler, and dozens of folks from the building trades and local real estate industry, the large community group in attendance was introduced to the hopes and dreams of Naperville Responds, a vision that included providing home improvement services to Veterans in need or in crisis.
Within a short time, the stated mission became “to assist Veterans and their families in need, especially those with low and moderate income, by raising donations of money, building materials, and professional labor, and coordinating the process of repairing, building, and donating homes.”
Ever since, in addition to managing projects to fulfill its mission every year—even during the pandemic— the nonprofit organization with an all-volunteer board of directors and generous sponsors has recognized Veterans as their honored guests at breakfasts or luncheons, said NRFV President Dan Jurjovec, noting the luncheon event paused in the spring of 2020 and 2021.
The 2022 Strength and Honor Lunch, held on April 26 at Bobak’s Signature Events in Woodridge, provided a special tribute to World War II Veterans, featuring old-fashioned melodies and patriotic songs performed in harmony by the Chorus of DuPage.
The program celebrated the life of Tuskegee Airman Melvin Copeland as presented with fond memories by his cousin, Loraine Shoto, who also showed a video about the can-do community spirit of the World War II hero and Elgin teacher who died at age 96 on June 25, 2021.
Guest speaker Kathy Kincanon Nosek presented her family story, as featured in a collection of family mementos and her parents’ love letters written during World War II. Nosek calls the 667-page book she wrote about her parents, My Darling, 99 Love Letters, a “labor of love.”