This November, Goodwill Southern California will inaugurate an annual fundraising gala to honor and celebrate local heroes. The first annual Goodwill Gala for Heroes will salute veterans, including high profile community members and individuals from Entertainment and Business, who are either veterans themselves, or, have made significant contributions to advancing the veteran community.
All of the proceeds from the 2013 Gala will help fund and advance Goodwill Southern California’s no cost employment programs and services for veterans.
About the Veteran Employment Program
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Peggy Smith, Senior Director of Major Gifts & Planned Giving
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For over thirty years, Gary Sinise has stood as an advocate of America’s servicemen and women. It began in the early ‘80s with his support of Vietnam Veterans groups and the creation of Vets Night, a program offering free dinners and performances to veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His commitment continued into the ‘90s working on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization which he continues to actively support. Since the attacks of September 11, his dedication to our nation’s active duty defenders, veterans and first responders has become a tireless crusade of support, service and gratitude to all those who protect our freedom and serve our country.
His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the landmark film “Forrest Gump” formed an enduring connection with servicemen and women throughout the military community. After several USO handshake tours in 2003, Sinise formed the “Lt. Dan Band” in early 2004 and began entertaining troops serving at home and abroad. The band now performs close to 50 shows a year for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting veterans and troops. In 2011, to expand upon his efforts, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Its mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs that entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities.
The Cusumano Family
Established in 1959, the family owned and operated Cusumano Real Estate Group is one of the largest privately held property owners in Southern California. The group is involved in the acquisition, development, management and ownership of investment properties, including luxury apartments, (low and moderate) residential rental properties, senior apartments, office buildings, restaurants, warehouse and retail spaces. Their outstanding reputation in business is equaled by their exemplary commitment to service and civic leadership; helping to meet the needs of the community through philanthropy and many volunteer and advisory posts on local committees, commissions and charitable boards.
The Cusumano’s spirit of giving and community support is complemented by a history of military service. Today, Charlie Cusumano (IV) is enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. After returning from front line deployment in Afghanistan earlier this year, he was stationed in Vicenza, Italy where he currently serves. His father, Charlie (III), helps severely wounded veterans regain a sense of purpose, and provides an important physical outlet to rehabilitate their minds, bodies and souls by sponsoring and traveling his “Paseo Tribe” triathlon team. A deeply personal commitment to training and supporting these veterans plays a vital role in successfully reintegrating these everyday heroes into civilian life.
Chris Marvin, Managing Director of Got Your 6, served more than seven years as a U.S. Army Officer and Blackhawk helicopter pilot. He led his platoon into combat in Afghanistan in 2004, flying over 40 combat missions before being severely wounded in a helicopter crash near the Afghan-Pakistan border. Over the next four years, Marvin underwent 10 major surgeries, before being medically retired. His military awards include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Medal. During his recovery, Marvin volunteered as an advocate for other wounded veterans.
Marvin earned a Masters in Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame. Marvin was named the first Fellow for The Mission Continues and logged more than 2,000 volunteer hours in 2008 before joining the organization as the National Director of the Fellowship Program.
His military, volunteer and professional experience advanced a deep understanding of the basic needs of veteran reintegration and the common misconceptions that divide the military and civilian communities, which inspired the overall campaign goals of Got Your 6.
Got Your 6 is a campaign that unites the entertainment industry with top nonprofit organizations to change the conversation in America, such that veterans and military family members are seen as leaders and civic assets who will return home to reinvigorate our communities. This collective impact initiative features the major studios, networks, agencies, and guilds in the entertainment industry, alongside 30 nonprofits in the veteran and military family space and participants from the federal government—all centered around six metrics-based goals and the opportunity to raise awareness of the growing civilian-military divide.