February 27, 2021

EP Knights of Columbus Honor RI Veterans

Columbus Club Comes Through in Pandemic Year

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The East Providence Knights of Columbus Council #1528 continued its tradition of providing the residents of the RI Veteran’s Home in Bristol with clothing, toiletries, and other vital necessities for Christmas.  ROVAC stands for Remember Our Veterans at Christmas. Operation ROVAC is a giving-mission that was started by Big Blue Bug's Tony DeJesus. DeJesus is an East Providence High graduate and EP resident. "He has been a longtime employee of Big Blue Bug Solutions, and his mission to give back to the community’s veterans is inspiring and generous," said company management.  Also teaming up with DeJesus is another East Providence High graduate and resident, Steven Perry.  Perry is also the Grand Knight of council 1528 and the RI state ROVAC coordinator as well as Columbus Club publicity director.  “This pandemic year has been difficult for many, but we still managed to collect gifts for our Veteran’s Home residents,” said Perry last month.  “Actually, we were quite pleased that we had the largest truck delivery (to the Veteran’s home) in the 7-year history of this volunteer program.  In fact, we had already delivered a carload of supplies and gifts by Thanksgiving,” said Perry.

Our East Providence Council 1528 was joined by Knights from 28 other Councils and two assemblies statewide with donations and this year Mayor Bob DaSilva attended, providing a significant donation.  By supporting us on his Facebook page, the Mayor influenced several other East Providence citizens to come by with donations of clothing and toiletries throughout the holiday,” added Perry.  “The Council had to make numerous changes in the structure of the annual event due to COVID safety regulations and the weather and we still managed our largest delivery in our 7-year relationship with the Veteran's Home,” said Perry.

The local volunteers were surprised but excited to learn that the national “Supreme Knights of Columbus Club” sent a video crew to Rhode Island to record a documentary on the ROVAC program.   RI State Deputy David Quinn, other State Officers and Directors, and head Knight Perry were interviewed and filmed throughout the donation weekend last month.   “Thanks to the tremendous effort and support of our EP council and others statewide, we delivered a record donation to our deserving veterans,” said Perry.

Although the Covid 19 pandemic has limited the scope of their work, Perry and his fellow Knights were successful once again in remembering local veterans at Christmas time.  Some of the items collected were board games and playing cards, socks, underwear, comfy pajamas and slippers. Also sweats, sweaters, gloves, jackets, scarves, clothing, books and other gift sets.

The Rhode Island Veterans Home is a 110-acre complex on Mount Hope Bay in Bristol with about 208 beds. The home provides nursing and residential care to Rhode Island war veterans. Some of the services provided include social, medical, nursing and rehabilitative services.

"We've gradually grown every year and from filling up two SUV's a few years ago, we now fill up a few 20-foot-long panel trucks with new gifts for these deserving heroes.  One hundred percent of all donations get to the Veteran's Home and we do our best to honor our veterans,” said Perry.  Steve Perry and his volunteers are already discussing ways to make next year’s effort even bigger.

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