Though it was hosted by the Riverbank Royal Neighbors organization, this year the 11th annual Veterans Luncheon was served up in Modesto.
The location was the Stanislaus County Veterans Foundation facility on Coffee Road, in the shopping center next to the MOCSE Credit Union. The Foundation was a co-sponsor this year for the Saturday, Nov. 3 event.
Organizer and event chair Diane Talbert estimated at least 200 veterans of all ages and branches of service were in attendance.
The food was prepared by Bill O’Brien of O’Brien’s Market and served by volunteers, most notably made up of members of the Riverbank City Council. The menu included tri-tip, chicken over rice, a green salad, fruit salad and rolls.
The meals were served by Riverbank City Council members including Cindy Fosi, Cal Campbell, Darlene Barber-Martinez and Mayor Richard O’Brien.
A five member string band performed before and during the luncheon.
Talbert welcomed the crowd, then turned to drawing numbers to select the order people sitting at the tables would line up for their meal.
Young members of the Forensic Technology Club from Enochs High School were present to help serve beverages and to assist veterans, who might be using canes, walkers or wheelchairs, with their food. They also assisted with clean up.
The Riverbank event was moved to the Modesto location because the Riverbank Community Center was expected to be closed for renovations, but that hasn't happened yet. Luckily, the county Veterans foundation stepped up to co-sponsor the luncheon.
Mayor O’Brien said the city hadn’t yet received any bids on the work, and may not until after the holidays.
Other community activities normally held in the center could be in jeopardy of being canceled altogether this season because of the closure, including the Riverbank Federated Women’s Club annual Christmas Luncheon. As of press deadline, they have not been able to find a suitable location.
For the recent luncheon, the Royal Neighbors Organization once again took the lead. Founded in 1895, in a time when women couldn’t vote, couldn’t own property, and weren’t allowed to own life insurance, nine women founded Royal Neighbors of America. According to current reports, it is one of the largest women-led life insurers in the nation with a message that remains important and relevant today – empowering women to better their lives through financial protection solutions and opportunities to give back to their communities.
The local chapter was chartered on July 8, 1925. The national group formed as an adjunct to the Modern Woodmen of America, originally formed by eight wives of the MWA members, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.