St. Stan’s Post, Greenpoint’s local American Legion outpost, the organization focusing on veterans’ services countrywide, held its annual awards ceremony this past weekend at their location on Leonard Street.
For the first time, St. Stan’s gave out the Spirit of America Award, which was given to three women who had who had shown exemplary service towards veterans’ affairs in the community over the years.
The inaugural honorees were Clarice Joynes, a veteran who currently serves as Deputy Commissioner in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, Hazel Cathers, Executive Director of Soldiers,’ Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club Inc, a private organization that provides subsidized accommodation and club-type facilities to servicemen, and Donna Siafaras, owner of Peter Pan Bakery on Manhattan Avenue.
“From Donna’s support of the parade, both financially by arranging a cheering section outside her donut shop, to welcoming members of our Navy and Marine Corps; to Hazel’s different careers supporting our U.S. military, our allies, our wounded warriors and first responders at both the USO and the soldiers and sailors club; to Clarice’s efforts to find veterans housing, healthcare, addiction counseling, and most importantly jobs, we owe them a debt of gratitude,” said Rick Kenney, the post commander at St. Stan’s.
Joynes served at the 10th Marine Regiment in North Carolina before she was honorably discharged in 1984. Among her many accomplishments towards improving veterans’ lives, Joynes spearheaded the organization of the Fleet Week Job, Education and Information fairs in 2006-2007, to meet veterans’ needs for employment, housing, and healthcare.
“It was an honor to receive the Spirit of America award from The American Legion, St. Stanislaus, Post #1771,” said Joynes. “I, and my colleagues, at the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs support New York City veterans, service members and their families by ensuring they receive the benefits and assistance to which they are entitled.”
Siafaras hoped the award would help bring more recognition to veterans’ affairs and would increase the participation in the annual parade, which her shop plays a big role in supporting.
“This is something really close to my heart,” said Siafaras, whose father served during the Korean War in the 1950s. “Veterans really aren’t appreciated as much as they should be. I just try to make sure to do everything I can and I’m really humbled and honored.”
St. Stan’ also honored a couple of long-time community activists. One of them, Tommy Stagg, received the Legionnaire of the Year Award for his tireless efforts promoting the community’s Memorial Day Parade, supporting St. Stan’s, working with homeless vets, and for his efforts on behalf of Greenpoint Toys for Tots.
“When I know a kid has received a toy it just makes Christmas so much better for me,” said Stagg, a Vietnam War veteran. “I will continue to help out in any way until the day they bury me.”
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