On November 7th, Mayor Carl Hokanson was honored by the Veterans Chamber of Commerce-NJ for his volunteer service to country and community.
“Mayor Hokanson has provided countless hours of his personal time teaming up with the chamber to promote its program of collecting needed items for New Jersey’s homeless veterans,” stated Kevin Murphy, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of the Veterans Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Hokanson, a Marine Corps veteran, said, “”Thank you to my family and friends in attendance, all those there in spirit, and to everyone for your congratulatory words and support.”
The dinner was catered by Zappia’s Gourmet Deli from Summit followed by desserts from Pinho’s Bakery of Roselle and was held at the Clark VFW Hall. Over 140 guests were in attendance who later enjoyed a night of entertainment by Wade Preston who played the “Piano Man” for three and half years on Broadway in Billy Joel’s Movin’ Out.
The mission of the chamber is to promote and encourage communications, commerce and employment for US Veterans, veteran-owned businesses, and non-veteran enterprises for their betterment, success, and prosperity. Mr. Murphy commented, “It became an eye-opening experience shortly after its establishment that we learned almost immediately that in our area there are over 13,000 homeless veterans, an estimated 250,000 nationwide. Countless veterans are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and are not getting proper treatment, and veteran unemployment is at a rate nationally of around 7%. These issues have to be addressed and government is unable to do it alone. With God’s help and direction with the continuing support of businesses, government partnerships, various organizations, and individuals, the chamber has brought awareness to our communities, schools, and organizations about these problems facing our veterans in New Jersey.”
The Chamber teams up with the volunteer organizations such as Operation Chillout, Disabled American Veterans, Rotary Clubs, and churches in an effort to tackle the homeless and disabled veteran population needs. In its first year, it was able to obtain a decommissioned ambulance from the generosity of the taxpayers and governing body of Roselle Park. With the help of the volunteers from its First Aid Squad and additional private donations, the Chamber retrofitted the ambulance and it is now used to get homeless veterans and families off the streets and bring them to the nearest VA Medical Facility. Through its fundraising efforts, the chamber was also able to make additional donations to the Marine Semper Fi Fund which does a great job helping service members and their families through difficult times.
Other event sponsors included Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Law Offices of Stuart Nachbar LLC, Especially Yours Florist, Ambient Conditioning Co., Crystal Springs Resort, Costa’s Restaurant, Vintage Restaurant, and Strategic Insurance Planning. Mr. Murphy announced that the net proceeds from the event were being donated to the Disabled American Veterans earmarked for inpatient veteran programs at Lyons VA Medical Center.
Anyone wishing to learn more about the chamber or wish to volunteer or become a sponsoring member can visit its website (link) or call (908) 956-2863.