Emmaus For Veterans: A Path To Success

Organization to raise funds to aid homeless veterans

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  • Photos by Glynnis Jones Thomas Frodella welcomes the guests at the Emmaus For Veterans banquet at Perona Farms.

  • Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Tom Frodella.

  • US Army Reservist PFC Thomas Frodella Jr. announces the winning raffle ticket.

  • Comedian Matthew Broderick of Wayne, was voted crowd favorite of the 10 comedians who performed.

Emmaus For Veterans

A non-profit organization to aid homeless veterans.
For more information/donate: 973-919-5562 or EmmausForVets.org.

Tom Frodella, a retired U.S. Army Reservist is gathering troops for his non-profit organization called Emmaus For Veterans.

Having witnessed firsthand some of the life and death struggles homeless vets living along the river in Wayne faced, Frodella was touched by their plight. As he built a career as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor he began to focus more on the U.S. military veterans that needed help.

Believing that guidance from mentors can help lead people towards a better direction in life, he knew he could do more for his community.

"Everywhere I went through my life, I always had mentors around me," said Frodella. "Priests, school professors, someone."

Raising awareness
With support being the key to successful rehabilitation and entrance back into the mainstream for veterans, Frodella started on a strategy. As the thoughts became plans and plans became reality, Frodella needed an event to launch the awareness of the program to the public. During a church sermon as the pastor spoke of feasts, the idea of a banquet and live comedy show was created.

The prime rib dinner held on Feb. 28 brought 210 guests, including 120 veterans from the East Orange VA hospital and the Lyons VA hospital, to Perona Farms. The evening began with a welcome from Frodella and a thank you to the service members who attended, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a benediction given by Angelo Scalo, the Treasurer of Emmaus For Veterans.

Throughout the night, music was provided from Frodella's fellow Knights of Columbus members Joe Cimo and John Colbolby, who volunteered to provide tunes with their band Music For All Occasions. After the meal, the room filled with laughter during comedy stand up routines by 10 local comedians and was hosted by New Jersey famous funny man,"Uncle Floyd." Local comedian Matthew Broderick of Wayne, was voted crowd favorite.

Emmaus for Veterans

While the event was upbeat and entertaining, the reason for the banquet was kept in mind. Emmaus for Veterans is looking for participation to keep the path clear for their programs to continue and grow. Through cooperation from the mayor and town of Riverdale, the organization will be using Glendale Estate for part of the program.

Their stated goal and mission "is to assist and instruct homeless veterans in gaining control over their lives and circumstances while aiding them in becoming satisfied, productive members of society."

A large part of this is being accomplished by support from Morris County Vo-Tech and their instructors by training veterans in trades such as plumbing, carpentry, and masonry. Currently, there is a five-day program of classes each week with the program for each vet is expected to be 24 months. This will allow the individuals to be trained and educated and receive solid counseling to build a firm foundation that will help the success of each individual. Eventually, culinary and farm programs will take place at the estate, and, with enough financial support, Frodella hopes to buy property in the area to expand and sustain these programs.

One of Frodella's biggest supporters is his son. U.S. Army Reservist PFC Thomas Frodella Jr. attended the banquet.

"What my dad is doing is great," Thomas said. "This country needs to support our veterans. Veterans are a big part of not just our community but our country. How that ties with my service is that I hope to one day deploy and have a chance to serve my country just as equally as these veterans. I come here tonight in my dress blues to honor and respect the service that they have done."

Other notable supporters attending the banquet include New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, known for his dedication to supporting military service members and veterans, and Melissa Allan, one of the local comedians who performed that night for the vets. She helped publicize the banquet and her efforts raised more than $2,000 in donations for the organization.

Frodella is planning more fundraisers in 2014 including a classic car show event at the Glendale estate in Riverdale on May 17, Armed Forces Day.

At this early stage, the organization is seeking partners to help financially as well as donations of culinary equipment and other items.

Those seeking more information about the non-profit organization, or to make donations, can call 973-919-5562 or visit EmmausForVets.org.

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