By Sandy Meyer
On Saturday, September 16 the VFW Post 8108 will host Operation Dignity First, a fundraising event for the Athena House. The Athena House is a nonprofit organization providing housing for female veterans and their children. Together with Tampa Crossroads’ Veterans Assistance Center, local VA hospitals and other agencies, female veterans receive the opportunity to rebuild their lives. According to recent statistics, there were 3,000 homeless female veterans in the area in 2012. Today that number is down to 165.
According to VFW Post 8108 Commander, Ryan Ridenhour, the Athena House is a one-stop shop for female veterans and includes housing, drug rehabilitation and therapy. “With this type of demographic, there’s a lot of trauma, sexual trauma and things like that. So Athena House specifically services only female veterans and their children,” said Ridenhour.
The fundraising event, which runs from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., will have something for everyone. A Dice Run is being sponsored by the Military Firefighters and Cops Motorcycle Club. The Dice Run is like a Poker Run but instead riders will roll dice at each stop. There will also be an auction featuring a variety of fabulous prizes and a 50/50 raffle. Vendors will be on hand selling their fares and a live band will be entertaining the crowd.
A Barbecue Competition will also take place on the Post grounds allowing contestants to enter up to four different BBQ contests including chicken, pork, ribs and brisket. Competitors can choose one, two, three or all four categories. The entry fee is $25 and the fee for each meat is $30 with the brisket entry being $35. Cost to enter all four is $150.
The public is welcome and encouraged to join in the festivities and help raise funds for the Athena House. “Operating costs average $550,000 per year,” said Ridenhour. For more information on signing up for the Dice Run, BBQ Competition, sponsorship opportunities, becoming a vendor or contributing a prize for the auction, please call event coordinator BJ Wegman at 677- 2286.
VFW Post 8108 is located at 7504 Riverview Drive. Please visit www.vfw.org for more information.