Wyckoff YMCA Honors Veterans for Their Service to Our Country

May 3, 2019

What began as a suggestion eight years ago from a long-time member of the Wyckoff YMCA, has blossomed into a much-anticipated event filled with great fanfare and civic pride.

The gesture to honor the town’s forgotten heroes has culminated into 500 people attending last year’s Veteran’s Day luncheon on November 5. The event included 370 uniformed veterans, some in wheelchairs, who joyfully filed into the gymnasium festooned in red, white and blue to enjoy a multi-course buffet lunch.

Unfortunately, the member who set this event in motion has since passed away. But his family has continued his legacy and it is now a bi-annual event that includes a brunch in May and a luncheon in November. The upcoming May 6, 2019 Veteran’s Brunch will be the 16th time veterans are celebrated.  For Joyce K. Vottero, the Wyckoff Y’s Executive Director and Joyce Kwiatkowski, Associate Director, these events are their two favorite days of the year.

The celebrations are planned by an all veteran committee that was formed eight years ago. Past themes have included the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and tributes to veterans who served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. While mayors and senators often attend, the focus remains only on the veterans and political views are not discussed.

Over the years, distinguished speakers have included the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, who train and place disabled veterans into the financial services industry, and military psychologists discussing the effects of PTSD. The Victory Belles, known for singing WW II era musical classics, as well as veterans from West Point have performed with their marching band on four separate occasions.

The luncheon is served by the Y staff who make it a point to thank all the veterans at the close of the event. Local businesses help sponsor the two events.  Red, white and blue floral centerpieces are donated by a local florist every year. However, the majority of the funding is provided by the Wyckoff Y and its community of volunteers. The Sunday night before the luncheon about 50 volunteer firefighters and their spouses help set up the tables and decorate the gym in patriotic colors. The Y showed their appreciation to the firefighters by honoring them one year for the role they played in the military.

“Every one of the 50 tables is filled because once you come, you make it a point to come back every year!” said Vottero.