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AROUND TOWN: Military brass salute Home Front Cares
His is one of the most difficult jobs in the world; he's the boss of every man and woman in every branch of this country's military.
But hand Gen. Martin E. Dempsey a microphone and he just might belt out one of the best versions of "New York New York" you'll ever hear.
Dempsey played to a packed house and earned a standing ovation at the eighth annual Home Front Cares "For the Love of Our Troops VIII" Oct. 5 at The Broadmoor. His accompanist was military prosecutor and concert pianist John Fitzpatrick, like Dempsey and his group of "rascals" in the room, a 1974 grad of West Point.
Military of every rank, military spouses, corporate sponsors and community supporters, combined in a crowd that mirrored the growth of The Home Front Cares since it was created by Bob Carlone and Joe Henjum in 2003 to give emergency support to troops and their families, particularly in times of deployment. KKTV's Betty Sexton was there for that first discussion about the nonprofit and was honored for her commitment. "It's a privilege for me to see how this group has grown," Sexton said.
That growth, said President and Chair Ed Anderson, a retired lieutenant general, has gone from $35,000 in donations that first year to $850,000 helping 500 families last year. What The Home Front Cares provides is immediate emergency assistance for troops and their families rarely available elsewhere, explained Anderson and the agency's executive director April Speakes.
Longtime passionate supporter Joan Klein was introduced as both the newest member of the board and the winner of the President's Award for her commitment to the organization.
Don Pope was named the Joe Henjum Hero Award winner, an honor named for the group's beloved late co-founder. Often with his daughter Laurie and son-in-law Mike, Pope has volunteered for more than 500 hours since 2004 and has represented the nonprofit at more than 100 events in 14 states where more than $100,000 was raised. Anderson said Pope puts all the "youngsters" like himself to shame because he started his volunteer work at age 70. Today he's 78.
In 2013 a new award will be added, this one named after co-founder Bob Carlone.
Kent Bowman and JBI Construction were saluted for donating $135,000 over the past five years. His late father, said Bowman, had sought a program to champion and it was The Home Front Cares. Title sponsor Sam's Club donated $264,000 in one year, allowing THFC to support the military statewide. Most recently, said Anderson, the request came in for case number 2300. A homeless veteran in Denver needed their help and "he won't be homeless any longer," Anderson said to cheers.
Just two weeks ago another sponsor, HuHot Mongolian Grill opened its doors for a day devoted to The Home Front Cares and donated 100% of the profits. Other tips of the hat went to longtime supporter Phil Long Dealerships and a new one, Groove Auto. The complete list of sponsors covers two full pages.
The dinner committee for this festive annual evening included co-chairs Bliss Krucas, Marguerite Brown and Al Batey along with Demetra Shelton, Gwen Keffel, Karin Manning, Ann Dunker, Mary Henson, Vicki Britten-Kimsey, Carolyn DeKok, Joan Klein, Melodie Owens and Dennis McCormack.