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100 vets will see Mason for free

Published 9:46pm Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Since Dave Mason promotes Work Vessels for Veterans, Dogwood Fine Arts Festival has joined “forces” with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer by reserving 100 free tickets  to his Dowagiac concert for veterans, active-duty and reserve military personnel and a guest.
Call (269) 782-1115 to reserve tickets. Additional companion tickets are also available for purchase. Mason, co-founder of Traffic and known for such hits as “Feelin’ Alright,” “We Just Disagree” and “Only You and I Know,” performs at 7:30 p.m. May 19 at Dowagiac Middle School Performing Arts Center, 57028 Riverside Drive.
“Dave Mason is celebrating his 50th anniversary in music this year,” festival secretary Bobbie Jo Hartline said Tuesday, “so we thought we’d
partner with our area VFWs (Veterans of Foreign Wars), the COA (Cass County Council on Aging), Lest We Forget and Student Veterans at Southwestern
Michigan College.”
Mason played and recorded with Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and
Michael Jackson.
Work Vessels for Veterans, or WVFV, assists veterans returning to the United Sattes as they begin civilian careers or continue education by donating necessary start-up tools, such as laptops, vehicles, machinery, tools and commercial vessels.
The organization started in 2008 with the donation of a commercial fishing boat to a veteran and to date has helped more than 500 veterans with their transitions.
As “front man,” Mason, a WVFV board member, relates the organization’s stories, goals and dreams at each concert and urges his audiences to help however they can.
Master Sgt. Justin Clough, severely injured in Iraq, left a lasting impression on John Niekrash.  Hearing a call to action, he decided a lobstering boat that had served him well for 17 years should go to someone who served his or her country to start a career or to enhance a life put on hold when duty called.
Niekrash wrote to Commercial Fisheries News outlining his idea to donate the boat to a returning vet interested in becoming a professional fisherman or lobsterman. Numerous outlets picked up the story, including other industry newspapers and magazines.
He decided the only fair way to determine the recipient was to donate the vessel to the first vet who contacted him with the assurance it would not be used for recreation, but to make a living. That man was Marine Reservist Richard Giguere of Rhode Island, back from two tours in Iraq.
During an April 4, 2008, launching ceremony at the Noank, Conn., Shipyard, Niekrash turned the keys over to Giguere. Subsequently, Sen. Joseph Lieberman presented John with his “Joe’s Heroes” award. Richard works the boat in Narragansett Bay and accepted a board position to pay forward the organization’s generosity.

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