BERLIN - House of Heroes Connecticut, the non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of veterans in need with one-day home repairs, will be back in familiar territory this Saturday. The group will be assisting a 92-year-old Berlin Marine and World War II veteran, as well as the surviving spouses of two longtime, highly respected New Britain police officers who each lost battles with cancer in their later retirement years.
Saturday’s projects will begin at 8 a.m. at the 483 Toll Gate Road, Berlin home of 92-year-old Marine Eugene “Gene” Polaske, a World War II and Korean War-era veteran, and at the 99 Mansfield Ave., New Britain home shared by Vira Riley and Evelyn Riley. Vira is the surviving spouse of New Britain police Officer Gary Riley, who served the community for 30 years before his passing in 2014 after a long battle with cancer. Evelyn is the spouse of Gary’s older brother, New Britain police Detective Milton “Dickie” Riley, a Vietnam veteran who served as a member of New Britain’s police force for 33 years before, like his brother, also losing a battle with cancer just two weeks ago. The Riley families have owned and shared the East Side, New Britain duplex on Mansfield Avenue for nearly 50 years.
“All of our projects and all of the veterans we serve are special, but it will be particularly gratifying this weekend to not only help a member of the Greatest Generation in Berlin, but to do so on the same day we are also honoring the service and sacrifice of two highly respected and revered members of New Britain’s finest, one of whom passed only days ago,” said House of Heroes Connecticut Executive Director Dennis Buden. “Saturday is going to be a special day.”
About 40 volunteers are expected at the two projects.
Saturday’s projects would not be possible without the support of long-time House of Heroes Connecticut Project Partners PCX Aerostructures of Newington, which is expected to provide 30 volunteers; and the Disabled American Veterans, Hardware City Chapter 8.
Additional assistance is being provided by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters Local 326, as well as the New Britain Veterans Council and City of New Britain Police Department, both of which both helped in identifying the veterans to be served. Mission BBQ of Southington is generously providing lunch Saturday for all volunteers at both projects.
At 11:30 a.m., New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart and Police Chief Christopher Chute are expected to take part in a ceremony at the Riley home. At 1 p.m. in Berlin, Mayor Mark Kaczynski is expected to join in a ceremony at the Polaske home. State Sen. Gennaro Bizzaro plans to be on hand for both ceremonies.
The two projects bring House of Heroes Connecticut’s total of veterans served since its 2012 founding to 123.
For more information about House of Heroes Connecticut, to nominate a veteran, volunteer for a project or simply donate to the cause, visit www.hohct.org .
- House of Heroes