Nov. 30 event to raise funds for area veterans

11.14.2012 Dean Rhodes Culture, Events

Tribal veterans from across Oregon will be out in force on Friday, Nov. 30, for a special auction and dinner honoring veterans and their families.

The event will be held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Willamina from 5 to 9 p.m.

The dinner will feature Jim Willis, Oregon Director of Veterans Affairs, who will attend and address the group.

The event stems from an effort made by Tribal Council and the Tribal Veterans Special Event Board to help a warrior from the local area wounded in Afghanistan and flown to Germany for treatment.

Tribal Council donated $1,000 and the Veterans SEB another $500 to help the soldier's family travel to Germany to help him heal. This auction and dinner will help pay back the board's contribution with any extra proceeds reserved for ongoing expenses at the West Valley Veterans Memorial on the Tribal campus.

"We thought this would be something that all veterans would want to be associated with," said Wink Soderberg, Elder, Navy veteran, former Tribal Council member and master of ceremonies for the evening, "to contribute to ones who were wounded and came back and to those who were killed and didn't come back."

Important contributors to the event include Elder Gene LaBonte, former chair of the Governor's Veterans Advisory Task Force and perennial organizer and volunteer for veteran-oriented activities.

There will be a roast pork loin for dinner, with dressing and gravy. Cost is $10 per plate.

Items to be auctioned off during the evening include Tribal logo blankets, gift baskets and even a high-end hearing aid.

The event is being organized by the Veterans' Special Event Board, which includes Gene LaBonte, Wayne Chulik, Soderberg, Reina Nelson, Bob Duncan, Michelle Cooper and Mike Lane.

Other volunteers include Kathy Soderberg, Julie Duncan, Jess (Pee Wee) Robertson and his brother, Ken Robertson.

Siobhan Taylor, Tribal Public Affairs director, is serving as Tribal Council liaison for the event. In addition, Public Affairs staff members Kristen Ravia and Chelsea Clark are also assisting at the event.

"When somebody's got to rest," said Gene LaBonte, "another guy stands up and takes over. … The thing is going to escalate as it goes along," added LaBonte, who encouraged people to "get there early. We'll have lots of silent auction and door prizes.

"Every veteran there is going to be very important."