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2017 “Leave No One Behind” Gala Honored Vietnam Veterans

NECHV President and CEO Andy McCawley speaks at a podium at the 2017 Leave No One Behind Gala.

Image: Michael Seneschal

On November 1st, over 600 guests gathered at the Seaport World Trade Center to support the NECHV’s mission and salute those who are committed to leaving no Veteran behind. This year’s event focused specifically on Vietnam Veterans and sought to honor them with the tribute they so deserved, but may not have gotten upon their return home from the Vietnam War.

Guests arrived to a cocktail reception where they could bid on silent auction items from categories like “Out on the Town and Travel,” “Sports and Entertainment,” “Home, Lifestyle, and Wine,” and “Health and Beauty.” The reception also included other entertainment: wax figures of the five U.S. Presidents during the Vietnam War, generously loaned by the Dreamland Wax Museum; living statues dressed in Vietnam-era military attire; a photo gallery of the Center’s newly completed renovations; and a unique virtual reality experience designed to immerse viewers in the perspective of a visitor to the Center, created by employees of Brown Brothers Harriman. A large banner made in the NECHV’s drop-in art therapy studio that read “Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans” hung from the ceiling.

Special musical guest Livingston Taylor opened the night’s program with the National Anthem, and Sister Patricia Heath of the Holy Union Sisters delivered the invocation. Joseph J. Albanese, Chairman of the NECHV Board of Directors, welcomed the guests and President and CEO Andy McCawley gave the presiding remarks. The program also included a live auction that featured a Bobby Orr package, a Martha’s Vineyard wine tasting getaway, rare cigars, a private at-home dinner prepared by Seaport Hotel Executive Chef Richard Rayment with Trifecta Wines, and a trip to Nashville that would delight any country music enthusiast.

The evening’s honorees were Henrietta Oparah and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Ms. Oparah received the 2017 Battlefield Citation, an honor which recognizes a Veteran for their achievements both during and after their military service. Following a life-changing stay at the Center, Ms. Oparah pursued her dream job: a position at the NECHV. She achieved her goal and is now a case manager in the Center’s Safe Haven program.

Governor Baker was awarded the Brian A. Brooks Distinguished Service to Veterans Award for his steadfast commitment to Veterans and the Commonwealth’s longstanding partnership with the NECHV, which enabled the Center to transform its downtown facility into a national model for providing resources and support to vulnerable Veterans.

The keynote speaker was Captain Arvin R. Chauncey, who served in the United States Navy from 1955 through 1986. Captain Chauncey was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on May 31, 1967. He shared the story of his time as a POW with the audience, and described how he and other Americans in captivity were committed to resisting their captors in whatever ways they could, despite enduring torture and living in appalling conditions. After 2,105 days in captivity, Captain Chauncey was released along with the other POWs during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973.

The Leave No One Behind Gala raised over $588,000 which will go directly to the programs and services at the NECHV that enable Veterans to achieve sustainable, independent living. Thank you to all of our friends and partners for a wonderful night. Your generosity and support allows us to ensure that we leave no one behind.

Please save the date for the 16th annual Leave No One Behind Gala, Wednesday, October 10, 2018.

See the night’s photos here!

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