Community Troops in for Coffee House

East held its 9th annual Coffee House on Saturday, January 18 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. hosted by the East Singers and East Thespian Society. The event was held in the auditorium where students performed various talents. In Caf 1, a few booths were set up where attendees could purchase artwork made by students, jump on a moon bounce, buy baked goods or make a cup of coffee or tea. This year’s proceeds benefit the G.I. Go Fund; an organization that aids war veterans transition back to civilian life upon returning home. Students were also selling t-shirts just outside the auditorium that benefit the fund.

The G.I. Go Fund is a nonprofit organization that assists veterans by helping them find housing, introducing them to educational opportunities, helping them receive employment and securing other benefits. Often times troops come home to their families and are overwhelmed with the magnitude of struggles and problems that did not go away upon coming home from war. This organization helps relieve some of this stress off the veterans by providing them with the assistance they need in order to return home and be relaxed.

The night was full of entertaining performances ranging from dancing to singing to performing spoken word pieces and playing an instrument. Some students even dedicated their performances to someone that related to the night’s theme of war veterans, such as Harleen Kaur (’14) who performed a “Bhangra” dance alongside Harshleen Chawla (’14). Harleen dedicated the performance to her cousin who was the first Punjabi woman to serve in the U.S. Army.

Eight short clips either about the G.I. Go Fund or small montages of troops surprising their families were spread out and played in between every few acts. The clips definitely spurred emotion amongst audience members which encouraged people to support the organization even more. Half way through the night, G.I. Go Fund director, Jack Fanous said a few words on stage.

“That first day [when troops come home] is fantastic—it always is. But things start to get tricky on the second day… on the third day… on the fourth day… three months after… four months after. By helping them here, today, you’re taking a lead on helping them on those next days. You’re really helping our veterans transition their lives and turn it all around.”

Fanous continued by asking if any veterans were present in the room and then applauded those who stood up in the crowd. He also praised East for having such a wonderful turn out compared to the other schools and cities that he has spoken at.

“I want to say I can’t thank you all enough for what you guys have done here, today. It’s one of those incredible expressions of love—expressions of appreciation for our military that they so deserve [but] don’t often get,” Fanous said.

The night continued with other performances until Mr. Tom Weaver and Mrs. Laurie Lausi said a few words before ending the night with a final performance. Mr. Weaver and Mrs. Laurie thanked everyone for attending and for supporting the organization as well showed appreciation for all the generous sponsors of that night. As a closing act, the student band, No Commitment performed “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” with Patty Irwin (’15) on vocals.

It was a successful night as members of the Cherry Hill community gathered to support our nation’s troops that have done so much for the country and deserve all the aid they need to have some days of relaxation.