In Nashua, the show goes on to benefit veterans
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent | September 30. 2012 11:46PM
Sy Mahfuz and Tom Tessier, Nashua businessmen, have organized New Hampshire's first ever Veterans Count Spectacular. The event, which will take place on Nov. 11 and includes magicians, comedians and musical entertainment, will raise money for New Hampshire veterans and their families. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON PHOTO)
Sy Mahfuz and Tom Tessier, both well-known veterans in the Nashua community, have taken a recent challenge to the next level. The dynamic duo has been able to garner about $240,000 in donations and pledges to help kick off the show that will take place on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at Nashua High School North.
Dozens of local businesses and civics groups have stepped up to help fund the Veterans Count Spectacular, which will feature musicians, comedians, dancers and entertainer Tony Pace.
All of the money raised from ticket sales will go directly to the Veterans Count Club, a program of Easter Seals New Hampshire that helps soldiers and their families before they are deployed, during deployment and once they return home.
“Most of these men and women are in the National Guard and Reserves, and their families have no support system,” said Tessier, a former U.S. Air Force member who served in Vietnam.
While returning service members may not be faced with the same challenges as soldiers who came home following Vietnam, Tessier said they still struggle adapting to the real world, finding employment and resuming normal family duties.
“Vets are coming home from the battlefield and they are placed right back into the neighborhood. I think there is a need out there to help these individuals, who really are our co-workers and neighbors,” said Pam Dube, senior director of communications for Easter Seals New Hampshire.
Since Veterans Count was formed in 2006 by Michael Salter of Amherst, more than $1.1 million has been distributed to New Hampshire military families, helping them with basic needs such as child care, transportation, rent, mortgages, car repairs, counseling, groceries and employment opportunities.
Veterans Count Club has provided help to more than 800 military families since its inception. The program is funded solely through donations and fundraising, mostly from area businesses, foundations and individuals, according to Dube.
The men stress that the event is all about promoting Veterans First, and helping those veterans in New Hampshire that desperately need assistance.
“Manchester has been pulling the freight for several years. It is time for Nashua to step up and help with this important initiative,” said Mahfuz, who served in the Army Reserves as a drill instructor from 1971-1976.
Salter challenged the duo to raise $100,000 for Veterans Count in one year, and the couple was able to more than double that amount in less than six months, which will pay for the entire upcoming show. The doors open at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 at Nashua High School North, with the grand opening starting at 5:30 p.m. and Pace's performance at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.vetsdayshow.com. More details will be posted online as the event nears.