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NCCC's Veterans Memorial Park at the Sanborn campus.
NCCC's Veterans Memorial Park at the Sanborn campus.

NCCC Veterans Day celebration pivots for pandemic

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Mon, Nov 9th 2020 07:00 am

The 2020 Veterans Day celebration at Niagara County Community College will transform from a traditional public ceremony to a multi-week campaign designed to benefit veterans within the Western New York community. To culminate the initiative, a tribute video, airing at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, will be available to view on the college’s website at www.niagaracc.suny.edu.

Following the airing of the video, a socially distanced reception will take place from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. in the Veterans Services department, room B-100 at NCCC’s Sanborn campus, 3111 Saunders Settlement Road. Light refreshments will be served and plenty of military comradery will be shared. Additionally, participants are encouraged to visit the NCCC’s Veterans Memorial Park to reflect on the contributions of U.S. veterans.

Masks are required on all campus grounds.

The 2020 veterans campaign was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coordinator of Veterans Services Joseph Potalivo created a “COVID-proof plan” to ensure Veterans Day would be celebrated across the campus community. Potalivo, a veteran himself, envisioned an opportunity to encapsulate an all-encompassing method to thank service men and women.

“Our message to veterans is a big ‘Thank you,’ but not in a traditional way. Ours shows personal connections to those who serve or have served,” he said.

Guest speakers on the video include students who are veterans, faculty, staff and even chairwoman of the NCCC board of trustees, Gina Virtuoso. Their stories include grandparents, parents, children and friends who have served, personal stories of service, and the impact made on this country.

Throughout the month of November, NCCC’s Veteran Association will also host its annual veterans flag tribute, this year offering contributors to participate online. Donations are now being accepted via the veterans webpage, replacing in-person cash donations – another step in keeping the campus community safe while still aiding veterans. For each donation, the veterans service department will dedicate a small flag in honor or in memory of a loved one who has served or is currently serving in the Armed Forces.

Flags are donned with a name placard and will be on display throughout the month of November within the atrium of the Notar Administration Building. Flag tributes are $1 for one flag, $3 for four, or $5 for seven, though any amount is graciously accepted. Each donation directly benefits the veterans lounge, providing food, refreshments, and a place to relax for veteran students on the Sanborn campus. To donate online, visit https://www.niagaracc.suny.edu/veterans/.

In addition to the Veterans Day activities, NCCC continues to support the veteran community on a year-round basis through unique programming.

Potalivo said college employees, “Put veterans’ needs before their own. Our campus is extremely veteran-friendly. We are all-encompassing and support each veteran on a one-on-one basis.”

Whether students are active duty, have veteran status, or are a dependent of a veteran, NCCC helps each individual navigate their benefits, services, financial aid and student resources.

“We are a one-stop-shop for veteran students. We will see their journey here from start to finish. This department advocates for students and we have the ability to do that, because we are a small, personal college where we have the opportunity to get to know our students,” Potalivo said.

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