For yet another year, the Valley Stream American Legion Post 854 hall hosted residents from the Town of Hempstead’s ANCHOR program for an evening of dinner and dance last Tuesday.
For those unfamiliar with the organization, ANCHOR stands for Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation, a comprehensive year-round program serving over one thousand children and adults with special needs.
A fixture celebration for over 40 years, the American Legion has held the ANCHOR dance for handicapped teens and adults to enjoy themselves while being a part of the wider community. The Valley Stream scout troops lent their support in helping to prep the banquet hall for the dance as well as dishing out refreshments to guests.
ANCHOR Program officials look forward to the event every year and consider it a special occasion for its members. It’s a night where they get to leave Lido Beach, the program’s base of operations, and venture out, socialize, and connect in a more open and mature atmosphere in the Hempstead community.
“In total, we had 120 campers from the ANCHOR organization, and there were 25 staff to support,” said Vice Commander Anthony Vincente who coordinated the event on behalf of the Legion. “Every single year this organization is appreciative of what we do, and we’re happy to be able to provide a venue for the campers of this organization to, you know, come together and have a really good night.”
It’s always a rewarding collaboration, noted Vincente. The ANCHOR program provides the D.J. and the partygoers and the Legion provides the venue, food, and staff. All in all, it is a merry fun time all around.
This is Vincente’s second time hosting the event. When asked about any challenges he’d encounter in his new role, Vincente assured him the tradition had been going strong for so long that planning came as second nature to the members so everything ran quite smoothly.
“I’m tasked with coordination and I usually ask if there is anything additional that the campers will be needing. And so if any special requests may come up, we’ll take care of that,” said Vincente. “Otherwise, it’s very easygoing since the veterans have been doing it for so many years.”
Vincente says hosting the party, year after year, aligns with and affirms the Legion’s core mission of service and duty.
“I think events like this speak to the purpose of having a veterans organization to begin with,” he said. “Our members do this as an act of service and sacrifice for others. That’s just part of the norm of being a veteran.”