LEICESTER, Mass. — The town of Leicester came together to honor the service and sacrifice of its veterans, with more than 100 people attending an annual breakfast at the senior center Thursday morning.
The tradition began last year, and once again state and town officials helped to prepare and serve the food.
Chefs included Veterans Agent Tim Hickey, Town Administrator Robert Reed, Library Director Suzanne Hall, Assistant Assessor Kathy Asquith, Leicester Police Chief Jim Hurley and police Sgt. Ken Antanavica, who helped cook hundreds of pancakes, eggs and all the breakfast fixings.
Additionally, state Sen. Mike Moore, Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, state Rep. John Binienda, and selectmen Dianna Provencher, Sandy Wilson and Tom Buckley were among those serving the food and coffee. Leicester high students also volunteered to help.
Leicester's Bill Moore, director of Project New Hope, was the master of ceremonies again this year, and the nonprofit organization's vice president, Tracy Vaillancourt, served as guest speaker.
Vaillancourt, whose only child was killed in action when his helicopter was shot down over Kunar Province in Afghanistan in 2006, was instrumental in bringing Project New Hope to Massachusetts and serves as a board member.
As a gold-star mother, Vaillancourt said she strives to keep her son's spirit alive by supporting veterans and their families.
"When families lose a loved one to war, it's not just their loss, its also a loss to our country," she said. "They sign their lives over to guard and protect, and sacrifice their lives to keep us safe and free."
To learn more about Project New Hope, visit its website at www.projectnewhopema.org.