Scores of businesses, sponsors and hundreds of military-related residents and community members came out to Big Horse Feed and Corn Maze in Temecula on the Saturday of the “Salute to Our Military Weekend” for a community resources and job opportunity fair for Armed Services members, veterans and their families. The event was entitled “Helping and Hiring Our Heroes.”
“Our goal was to bring military-friendly employers and service organizations together with military, veterans and their families in need of employment or other resources,” said event founder and organizer Rose Corona. “Military families are a big part of our community and we need to do what we can to help them. I’m thankful for the many people and businesses who stepped up to make this happen. We hope to make this an annual event.”
Sponsors included; Military Veterans Appreciation Trust, Make A Difference America, US Bank, Ralph’s Grocery Stores, Pauley Equipment, Precision Alignment, Napa Auto Parts, ISC International, Temecula Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, Riverside County Workforce Investment Board, Reality Rally, Gary Sinise Foundation, 4 Paws 4 Patriots, United States Marine Corps, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and The Valley News.
Participating businesses included; American Financial Network, Blue Buffalo, Christmas Angels, Downs Energy, Express Employment Professionals, Hemet Police Department, Milgard Windows, Nigro and Nigro, OsteoStrong Murrieta, Primaerica, Ramona Tire, ReMax Realty, South Pacific Financial, Southwest Healthcare Systems, Southwest Traders, Spherion, Sprint, Temeku Ballroom, Tutor Dr., and Western Southern Life.
Participating nonprofits included; Brandman University, Canine Support Teams, Community Connect, CSU San Marcos, City of Riverside Veterans Services, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Equinox Horse Rescue, Murrieta Rotary Field of Honor, Knights of Columbus, Temecula Lions Club, Manzanita Ranch, Michelle’s Place, Onward to Opportunity, Reality Rally, Southwest Veterans Business Resource Center, Temecula Sunrise Rotary, U.S. Army, VFW Post #4089, VFW Motorcycle Club and the Workforce Development Department. ROTC groups from Great Oak High School and Temecula Valley High School also participated.
In addition to the many businesses, sponsors and nonprofit supporters, public officials and dignitaries were on hand in a show of support, including Senator Jeff Stone, a representative for Congressman Duncan Hunter, a representative for Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, Temecula Mayor Pro Tem Maryann Edwards, Temecula City Councilman Michael McCracken, Hemet City Councilwoman Shellie Milne, Congressional candidate Tim Sheridan, Temecula Valley Chamber CEO Alice Sullivan, a representative from Visit Temecula Valley and local legend and writer John Hunneman.
There were fun and games along with food and entertainment for the whole family. Some of the activities included pony rides, pig races, bubble gum blowing contests, hula hoop contests, rock climbing, jump houses, hay rides, pumpkin patch, corn maze and so much more.
On-stage entertainment had a patriotic theme and featured The Phoenix Patriot Band, Lindy Sisters, Jenny Kwan, Iris Zeitlow, Xandra Clementsmith, Resonate Choir, CBG (Character Building Group) Kids Choir, and the Southwest Women’s Choir.
Valley News sponsored a patriotic essay contest for elementary, middle, and high school students and received tremendous response. The topics were “What Makes America Great” or “Why I Am Proud to Be An American.” The top three students in each category were invited to read their essays to the crowd and many were moved by the heart-felt sentiments expressed by the students. Winning essays can be found online at www.myvalleynews.com.
Winners of the Grades 2-3 Category were: (1) Kinzee Turner, (2) Makayla Votaw and (3) Sarah Pieklik.
Winners of the Grades 4-5 Category were (1) Aly Swingley, (2) Kyndall Mocniak, and (3) Brooklyn Clark.
Winners of the Middle School Grades 6-8 Category were: (1) Mary Handler, (2) Wura Ogunnaike, and (3) Mason Hall.
Winners of the High School Category were (1) Allyson Park, (2) Daniel Chaidez, and (3) Gabriella Kaorina Long.
Generous donors provided prizes for each winner. Dr. K. Pat Brown, DDS, a longtime resident of the Valley, provided cash awards as well as travel toothbrush kits. Rose Corona provided prize ribbons and gift certificates to Big Horse Feed. Temecula Trophy provided First Place trophies. American Saver provided their discount cards, good at 160,000 places nationwide for entertainment, restaurants, retail, etc. Geekstore, one of the best–kept secrets in Temecula (43195 Business Park Drive), provided a number of “tech-related” prizes including digital tablets, remote-control vehicles and drones, stereo clock radio, Xbox 360 games, Bluetooth headphones/speakers and more.
Following the essay contest, Paul Bandong who formerly served in the Army and McCracken a Navy veteran, led the kick-off for the “22 Pushups in 22 Days” to bring awareness and education to stop the high rate of military-related suicides. Many audience members and vendors participated and will be issuing their challenges to friends, family and associates over the next 22 days.
To participate in next year’s “Helping and Hiring Our Heroes” event, contact Rose Corona at [email protected].