EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Beginning Wednesday, Easthampton Congregational Church will offer a free monthly luncheon for veterans.

A partnership with Building Bridges Veterans Initiative, city leaders and veteran outreach specialists, have announced complimentary luncheons as part of a new veteran health and wellness initiative. All military veterans are welcome every first Wednesday of the month to Easthampton Congregational Church located at 112 Main St. in Easthampton.

“This is an excellent partnership with mutual interests – to address veteran depression, social isolation and suicide risk,” said Easthampton’s Police Chief Robert J. Alberti.  “We are grateful for this opportunity to work with Building Bridges and to be part of a regional network of friends and community supporters in helping and assisting our Easthampton veterans.”

“In addition to serving a nourishing meal each week, we also hope to nourish the soul,” said the Rev. Christopher Carlisle, founder and executive director of the Building Bridges Veterans Initiative. “It is the nourishment of the soul—the camaraderie, support, and listening, which happens around the table—that is the magical heart and soul of Building Bridges, and we are very much looking forward to starting a new luncheon series in Easthampton.”

“The Easthampton Congregational Church UCC is proud to be hosting lunches for The Building Bridges Veterans Initiative,” said the Rev. Sherry Tucker, church pastor. “We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for the brave individuals who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom and are grateful to give back to them in any way we can. Under the leadership of the Building Bridges Veterans Initiative, these lunches will be a time of camaraderie and connection.  We know that these gatherings will remind the veterans that they are not alone, and they are greatly appreciated.”

For those interested in volunteering or sponsorship contact Emma Reilly, Easthampton’s Mental Health and Wellness coordinator at 413-527-1212 or by email at ereilly@easthamptonma.gov.

“We would love to have a network of volunteers who can come in each week with the ability to help with cooking meals, serving meals and with set-up and preparation,” said Reilly. “It would be great to see the many wonderful Easthampton restaurants help in this effort and we have many sponsorship opportunities. In short, we need our community’s help to see this become what we want it to be – an awesome gathering space each week for our veteran community.”

The Easthampton Coalition for Veteran Wellness includes the city’s veterans’ services, police, fire, and health departments who work alongside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and local veteran community leaders and members of the business community.

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