Veterans gather for opening of Hero’s Cafe at Verdant Health

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    A group listens to the dedication.

    A crowd of about 50 veterans, city officials and community members gathered inside the Verdant Wellness Center in Lynnwood for the dedication and grand opening of Hero’s Cafe, the latest veteran-friendly initiative by the city and supporting organizations.

    The Hero’s Cafe will open once a month at the Verdant Wellness Center, 4710 196th St. S.W., for veterans to gather and share in camaraderie. Among those present on Tuesday were members of several Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts, Lynnwood firefighters and police officers, city councilmembers and community members with veteran family members.

    Verdant Superintendent Robin Fenn gives her remarks.

    One such supporter is Robin Fenn, new superintendent of Verdant. She described having military family members all the way back to her great grandfather and his brother, who fought in World War II, and her sister and brother who spent time in Rwanda and Bosnia.

    “I have seen what it’s like for a father to tell his 9-year-old son why he wouldn’t be there for his birthday,” Fenn said. Her voice choked.

    She also told about picking clothes with her sister growing up, which eventually turned into conversations about which sports bra will work best under Kevlar.

    Fenn said several people have approached her to say thank you for the space at Verdant to host Hero’s Cafe.

    “People have thanked me, but I realize that there are no words to thank you for what you have done and the sacrifices you have made,” she said.

    The gathering salutes the flag.

    Gary Walderman, of USAF and Snohomish County Disabled American Veterans Chapter 13, emceed the event.

    “We talk about camaraderie a lot because, as veterans, civilians don’t know what we’ve been through,” he said.

    Two VFW members enjoy coffee and conversation.

    Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith also spoke. She highlighted several veterans initiatives in the city, such as Sebastian’s Place for homeless veterans and the the One Stop Veteran’s Resource Center already available at Verdant, among others. She said the Hero’s Cafe will be a great addition to the resource center, which also opens on Tuesdays, so veterans can get services and then chat with each other.

    The Hero’s Cafe will be open on the last Tuesday of every month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All veterans are invited to come and share coffee and stories with other veterans.

    –Story and photos by Natalie Covate

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