Memorial Day Fundraiser Aims to House Local Homeless Veterans
By edhat staff
The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) is hosting a Memorial Day Ceremony and Fundraiser to help house local veterans.
Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Now it's celebrated on the last Monday in May. Many observe the holiday by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Locally, we visit military monuments and cemeteries before going to a backyard BBQ or beach party.
There's one local non-profit in town that dedicates its time to honor all veterans of all wars. PCVF was founded by John W. Blankenship in 2003 with a personal gift from Pierre Claeyssens, an influential and admired philanthropists who died at age 94 in 2003.
Claeyssens was a Belgium immigrant, born in 1908, who came to the United States in 1938 to become an architect. He helped design Liberty ships at Terminal Island during World War II and constantly expressed his gratitude to American soldiers who helped free his native country during two world wars.
After World War II, Claeyssens worked as an architect, designing schools, libraries and other buildings throughout Southern California, including a school in Lompoc. He married the late Ailene Wood, an oil heiress from Santa Barbara, and was never shy about saying that was how he became a multimillionaire.
Today, in his honor, PCVF hosts many events throughout the year to support and honor Veterans and Active Duty Military. This year, they're hosting their annual Memorial Day Ceremony to remember those who gave the greatest sacrifice for our country. The ceremony will include a patriotic program featuring the Santa Barbara Choral Society, bagpipers, and keynote speaker, Sgt. Major John L. Canley, USMC, ret., most recent recipient of the Medal of Honor. It'll take place on Monday, May 27 at 10:00 a.m. inside the Santa Barbara Cemetery.
This year the ceremony is followed by a Memorial Day Fundraiser with a mission to house homeless veterans in our community. PCVF has identified the need to address the struggles of underserved veterans in our community. Specifically, to offer financial support beyond what is provided by State and Federal agencies. PCVF currently supplies emergency, or “gap” funding directly to veterans, active duty personnel, and their families in times of need. This year their mission is to house homeless veterans in our community.