Italian Civic Club of Meadville, PA


The Operation: Wounded Vetz was founded in 2012 by a small group of members here at the Italian Civic Club. The benefit has grown immensely over the past 5 years, generating over $100,000 to local veterans in our local community (Crawford County). 

Joining forces with the Italian Civic Club, Ranz Bar & Grill (owned by Jim Severo, US ARMY RESERVE VETERAN and Active Member of the Italian Civic Club) has been a huge sponsor and successor of the Operation: Wounded Vetz Beneft. The benefit is supported by many local businesses with sponsorships and Chinese auction items. The event would not be if it weren't for the greater help of the community. 

The money benefited our local wounded veteran community services including: WCJ Ranch, Lilac Springs, Project Healing Waters Erie Chapter and Post 52. Below is a description of each local organization that monies were able to help fund.

WCJ Ranch is a local hunting camp for wounded veterans, owned and operated by Charlie Schmitz.  The ranch has been operating for the past 20 years. Donated monies help pay for hunts, building and rebuilding wheelchair accessible tree stands, maintaining the grounds and putting up food plots. Funds also help pay for butchering. Activities at the ranch normally run during the months of April through December. The ranch has worked with wounded veterans from WWII to Afghanistan and was created to “save lives”, due to wounded veteran suicides. The ranch gives the veterans the atmosphere of peace and quiet by being out in the woods and being able to clear their minds. The sensation of getting away from the real world really helps these wounded veterans whom suffer from post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries and many more disabilities. They also create new friendships amongst people like themselves. The WCJ Ranch continues to grow each year by donations from the local community, which allows them to provide more hunts and activities for veterans.

Lilac Springs is a local spa resort, owned by Marsha and Tony Pedone, for wounded combat veterans and their families to experience a “Breakaway” weekend. Each “Breakaway” is limited to 10 individuals plus 4 volunteers, and allows wounded veterans and their partner to just get away from the real world. Lilac Springs consists of 68 acres of land with ponds, trails, a labyrinth, meditation center, dining building and sleeping accommodations for 12-14 individuals. No donated funds are used for capital improvements with the exception of donor designated projects or for renovations for handicapped veterans. All funds are used for utilities, maintenance, operational equipment and supplies consumed during various activities. There are no paid staff at Lilac Springs. Thanks to the support of private individuals and organizations, Lilac Springs is able to remain free of government regulation and red tape. Their goal is to make Western PA the premiere region in the United States for privately supported veteran services.

Project Healing Waters Erie Chapter offers peace and tranquility in the art of fly fishing for disabled veterans. They specialize in teaching fly fishing and building special rods for amputee veterans. They send veterans all over the United States on special fishing trips and other various activities including learning how to make their own flies. The Erie Chapter is led by Skip Hughes who is the Pennsylvania Regional Coordinator.  Project Healing Waters used to be a single Program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2005, and since then the organization had been renamed to Project Healing Waters and has 181 programs in the 50 states. In the past year, they had over 6,500 participants nationwide bringing more fly fishing to disabled veterans than ever before.

Post 52 holds the organization of “Project Support Our Troops”, ran by Laurie Davis and Kim Lingling locally. Donated monies to the organization helps pay for postage, as they send packages monthly to deployed soldiers. These packages consist of food, hygiene supplies, clothing and so forth. All items are mostly donated and sometimes bought to equip the soldiers’ specific needs.

869 Water Street Meadville, PA 16335

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