Rolling Thunder donates to Veterans Endowment Fund

MANISTEE — Giving back to those veterans who served their country is the foundation of Rolling Thunder Chapter One of Manistee.

The Manistee Rolling Thunder Chapter One group made a $1,000 donation to the Manistee County Veterans Endowment Fund that is handled by the Manistee County Community Foundation. Shown (left to right) are Rolling Thunder treasurer Rob Zielesch, secretary Sara Zielesch, president BoJohn Bravebull, Manistee County Community Foundation president and CEO Laura Heintzelman and Rolling Thunder board member John Stocki.

The Manistee Rolling Thunder Chapter One group made a $1,000 donation to the Manistee County Veterans Endowment Fund that is handled by the Manistee County Community Foundation. Shown (left to right) are Rolling Thunder treasurer Rob Zielesch, secretary Sara Zielesch, president BoJohn Bravebull, Manistee County Community Foundation president and CEO Laura Heintzelman and Rolling Thunder board member John Stocki.

Over the years they have done countless programs to show that support and on Wednesday morning they added another chapter to their continued support of the Manistee County Veterans Endowment Fund (MCVEF) with a $1,000 donation.

The fund provides support for emergency financial needs of veterans and their families such as medical, housing and utility expenses. It also assists those veterans who may not be eligible for the other sources of veteran support and does not require war-time service.

The Manistee Community Foundation coordinates the MCVEF and foundation president and CEO Laura Heintzelman said donations of this type have been extremely helpful to the program. To date they have received more than $30,000 in donations.

“We are deeply grateful for the continued support of Rolling Thunder for the Manistee County Veterans Endowment Fund,” said Heintzelman. “It enables the foundation to help provide for the unmet financial needs of veterans and their families in the area.”

Heintzelman said the program has helped many from this community. She said it has been in existence in Manistee County since 2007 and they have an advisory committee that reviews the applications and awards those to be funded.

“There is quite a need for this fund and it has provided support for a variety of things in the past to veterans like utility assistance when there is a gap, for meeting mortgage or rent payments to help secure a veteran’s house,” said Heintzelman. “It has also been used for retro fitting a veterans home to make them more accessible to their changing needs. It has been used for medical and other needs and really is designed to fill gaps in resources. It has provided some really critical support to our area veterans.”

Rolling Thunder board member John Stocki said this has been a long term commitment on the part of the local chapter.

“This is going to be the 10th year that we have been doing our Thunder At The River,” said Stocki. “We donated before, but not in the amount that we are doing now.”

Stocki said the local Rolling Thunder also donates to eight to 10 other veteran organizations with the funds that they raise throughout the year. Organizations like Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, Pets for Vets, Honor Guards for Manistee, Cadillac and Benzie counties, Jacobetti Home in Marquette, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and Disabled American Veterans to name some of them.

“Our organization helps veterans any way that we can,” he said.

Rolling Thunder treasurer Rob Zielesch said they are grateful for the support they receive at their events.

“We couldn’t do any of this without the support of the community,” he said.

Stocki agreed, saying the residents of this area have big hearts when it comes to supporting those who served.

“The Little River Casino has also helped a lot and we’re just grateful there are so many caring people out there for veterans,” said Stocki. “When we ask for something out there it is very rare that we get turned down. The support we get is so good that we are very grateful for it and the community steps up and helps us.”

Stocki also thanked Heintzelman and the foundation for what they do to assist in helping veterans.

“They put in a lot of time and effort of organization of everything,” said Stocki. “They are so good to work with and that is great.”

Heintzelman added that it is groups like Rolling Thunder who help the entire community.

“It’s a privilege for us to administer this fund and to work with groups like yours that are on the ground providing this direct support and being a voice for our area veterans,” said Heintzelman.”We couldn’t do our job without folks like you.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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