Chamber hosts 8th annual Veterans Recognition event

(l-r) Sal Conforto. award presenter and last year’s award recepient; Michelle Dolgow Christofaro, Chamber chief of staff; Joe Kelleher, Chamber chairman; Nunzio Del Greco, Chamber president; and honorees Gene DeFrancis, Anthony Vitaliano and Chris Di Constanzo.
Photo by Walter Pofeldt

An event was held to honor and recognize veterans from the Bronx.

On Wednesday, November 18, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, AT&T and Capital One hosted the 8th annual Veterans Recognition Breakfast and Job Fair event to honor the borough’s veterans who previously served overseas to protect our country.

The event, which was held at Maestro’s, provided a brunch/luncheon for veterans and other attendees, followed by awards to three Bronx veterans – Anthony Vitaliano, chairman of Community Board 11, Gene DeFrancis, president of the Allerton Avenue International Merchants Association and Chris Di Constanzo from John Dormi & Sons Funeral Home.

Following the luncheon, a Bronx H.I.R.E. Veterans Jobs and Resource Fair took place, where over 100 veterans were connected with 30 employers who presented them with job opportunities they wouldn’t have been able to obtain otherwise.

Bronx H.I.R.E., which stands for Help Identify Real Employment and helps Bronxites find employment, was started in 2014 by the Chamber and Senator Jeff Klein and is nearing its first full year of service.

“This is an annual event with a great cause,” said Michelle Dolgow Christofaro, executive director of the Chamber and administrator of Bronx H.I.R.E. “We (the BCC) salute the men and women who have served our country by providing them with this luncheon and job fair so they can be recognized and honored, as well as be put in the right position to obtain employment.”

“November is a month when we pay tribute to our veterans and honor the great sacrifices they have made for our nation,” said Klein. “I want to congratulate the honorees for their service and ongoing commitment to their communities and fellow veterans. The job fair is a small way to give thanks to unemployed veterans who have done so much for this country.”

“This event is a real privilege for the veterans in this borough,” said Jeremy Warneke, district manager of Community Board 11 and an Iraq War veteran. “About 220,000 people in NYC are veterans, which is a small percentage of the population, but that small percentage includes some of the city’s neediest people, so it’s great that these services are available to them.”

“The Bronx H.I.R.E. provides an opportunity for veterans who have served and are now looking for a job and this certainly points them in the right direction,” said Vietnam veteran Pat Devine, who is involved as a mentor for the Bronx Veterans Corps Mentor Program, another program that helps veterans and even ex-con vets obtain employment from veteran mentors. “It’s great that these services are becoming available to veterans.”

Honoree Vitaliano felt very privileged to be recognized during the event.

“My time in the service greatly influenced me to continue and protect and serve,” said Vitaliano, who served during the Cold War for two years and eventually found employment with the NYPD for 38 years before retiring as a detective. “I am very proud and thankful for the Chamber’s recognition and I commend them for setting up this job fair to assist other veterans.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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