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New cafe initiative for veterans is Nov. 20

Westfield Veterans Director Julie Barnes has help from students in the Westfield Technical Academy setting up the reviewing stand for the 2019 Memorial Day Parade. Barnes has created a new Vet-to-Vet Café program that starts Nov. 20. (File Photo)

WESTFIELD-With more than 2,000 veterans in the city, the hope is that many will participate in a new Vet-to-Vet Cafe at the Westfield Senior Center.

“The Vet-to-Vet Cafe will provide an environment where veterans from all eras can mingle and get to know each other,” said Julie Barnes, director of veterans’ services for Westfield.

Barnes added that veterans attending are encouraged to bring a photograph from their service days. 

Spouses are also welcome to attend the gathering which is slated for Nov. 20 from 3 – 4 p.m., noted Barnes.

No advance sign-ups are necessary.

“We are hoping to make the cafe semi-annual or quarterly with Veterans Picnic in the Park finishing off the year in Westfield,” said Barnes, noting the next planning meeting is Dec. 4 for next year.

The Western Massachusetts Veterans Service Officers Association hosts the annual picnic for veterans and their family members. This fall’s event was conducted Oct. 5 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham.

“Picnic in the Park is an annual celebration with free food, family activities and live entertainment for veterans and members of the community in extending an appreciation for military service,” said Barnes.

Barnes noted the cafe idea was sparked by an idea from Baystate Health representatives.

“Baystate Health met with us to discuss the idea of having a veterans get-together,” said Barnes.

As part of the festivities, a dessert bar will be featured with red, white and blue sundaes.

“We’ve received a $25 donation from Big Y for the strawberries and blueberries  and the Gran-Val Scoop has given us a discount on two huge tubs of vanilla ice cream,” said Barnes, adding Colonel Brian Barnes, former commander, Connecticut Air National Guard, will provide the entertainment.

For more information, contact Barnes at (413) 572-6247.

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