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Community support sought for Friday, Sept. 20, event that includes food, drink, music

Enjoy live music, dancing and food, while helping women veterans at the same time — that's the idea behind the benefit sponsored by the N.W. Women Veterans Connection on Friday, Sept. 20. The event will take place from 7-11 p.m. at the American Legion Post 180, 2146 S.E. Monroe St., Milwaukie. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Live music will be provided by special guest Kris Deelane and the Fabulous Milwaukie Almost All-Stars Band, featuring Lorri Calhoun.

PHOTO COLLAGE FROM ROBERT STOLL - Members of the Fabulous Milwaukie Almost All-Starts include headliners Kris Deelane, upper center-left, and Lorri Calhoun, upper-center right. Robert Stoll is upper left in white shirt."The purpose of our benefit is to raise funds to be used for our community women veterans and their families who may not qualify for veteran services," said Patti Jay, a member of the N.W. Women Veterans Connection.

She noted that if veterans served only during peace time with no active duty component, they will not meet the criteria for financial assistance. Lack of adequate housing is another issue that many women veterans face.

"Though there are nonprofits with housing programs, often there isn't enough inventory or it isn't a safe place for a family," Jay said.

Funds raised at the event will be used to assist with moving expenses, transportation needs and unforeseen emergencies.

"It's important that our communities become more involved with our women veterans, understanding the unique experiences and asking for our stories," she said.

"Only when our civilian and military communities blend together, can we truly learn from each other."

'Sisterhood'

The issue of women veterans is close to Jay's heart, as she served with the 142nd Unit as an Aerospace Medical Technician in the Oregon Air National Guard from 1979-86. As a peace-time veteran, she is not eligible for resources.

Jay raised three sons, now 18, 21 and 25, while working in mental health community-based organizations.

She was offered a position as a veterans peer support specialist in 2014, where she and a fellow veteran engaged with vets, taking day trips, hikes and facilitated art classes. After the grant ended in 2015, Jay realized she wished to continue this work, focusing on women who had served in the military.

So, four years ago she started the N.W. Women Veterans Connection, and the group has been active ever since. Members meet every month, hold potlucks in each other's homes, and welcome representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, who share information.

"A sisterhood is formed; (we) help each other collectively," Jay said.

She remembers a time when she found out that a woman vet, her disabled son, and their cat and dog were living in a park in Troutdale.

"I immediately drove to see them and called a case manager I had worked with before who got them into housing," Jay said.

The vet then found a job within two days and found an apartment within a month.

"I posted the need for furniture, and many sisters showed up with cars full of things for their apartment. It was so amazing to see how we all came together and gave what we could give," Jay said. "With the combination of networking with a nonprofit and our own resourcefulness, this family has a new story."

Jay also is a member of American Legion Post 180 in Milwaukie where the event will take place.

"We are so thankful for the (post) for giving us the green light to hold our benefit. I believe (they are) excited to be a part of our success," she said.

Jay added that members of the event's fiscal sponsor, Veterans Ecological Trades Collective, will attend the benefit. The collective's mission statement is to support veterans and allies in acquiring skills that launch or refine careers in conservation, agriculture, forestry and ecological design.

Almost All-Stars

Bob Stoll, Jay's partner, convinced a group of musicians who had not played together for decades to form a new band to provide live music for the benefit. Stoll grew up in Milwaukie, graduating from Milwaukie High School in 1972.

He started playing music professionally while still in school and then opened Guitar Crazy, a music store. It closed in 2013, but Stoll still sells instruments online.

Many of the musicians he gathered for the benefit have been playing together off and on for decades he said, noting that five other members of the group also attended MHS.

The musicians agreed to play at the benefit to "help provide much-needed funding to yet another group that often seems left out," Stoll said.

On Sept. 20, "Portland's premier funky, soul singer Kris Deelane" will be a special guest opener, he said.

In addition to Stoll, other members of the Fabulous Milwaukie Almost All-Stars include Lorri Calhoun, Allen Jones, Rick Smith, John Conway, Frank DiGiovanni, Burrell Palmer, Mike Swan, Peter Frajola, Steve Cook, Greg Oberst and Grant Roholt.

Stoll said he's looking forward to seeing a good crowd that will make plenty of donations at the event.

Also, "it's a long-awaited musical reunion for many of us, plus quite a few longtime friends and family members will be there, some traveling from afar strictly for this night.

"I just want to encourage people to come out and donate, dance, listen, eat, drink and see some old friends, and/or make new ones."

Have fun; help vets

What: N.W. Women Veterans Connection benefit concert

with food and drink; donations appreciated

When: 7-11 p.m. Friday,

Sept. 20

Where: American Legion Post 180, 2146 S.E. Monroe St., Milwaukie

More: For details or to make

a donation, call Patti Jay at

971-803-8763.


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