Warriors in Black Tie event honors veterans

By From page B2 | November 20, 2013

In this season of thanks-giving, what better way to show military veterans that their friends and neighbors honor them for their service than by attending the Roaring Twenties-themed Warriors in Black Tie Inaugural Ball, a fundraiser set for Nov. 23 in Sacramento by the El Dorado Hills-based Fregoso Foundation.

Max and Kelly Fregoso started the foundation three years ago, and its success has been remarkable, especially with its efforts taking wounded veterans on outdoors experiences that include hunting and fishing trips.

The great outdoors often proves to be a healing balm for the wounds of the nation’s warriors, physically and especially mentally, according to the Fregosos, who have held several other highly successful gala fundraisers in the past to support the efforts of the foundation.

And the Warriors in Black Tie ball looks to be equally spectacular.

The gala will be held at a stunningly renovated Elks Tower at 921 11th St. in Sacramento, beginning at 5 p.m. until an hour before midnight. The Gatsby-type ball will have guests traveling back in time to the 1920s, when speak-easies were the order of the day during Prohibition. Guests at the Warriors in Black Tie ball will enter through a “secret” back door to the delights of the evening, beginning with a greeting by flapper hostesses.

Costumes are encouraged to fully immerse yourself in the evening, during which those attending will enjoy a visual array that includes cigarette girls, flapper-style models and police actors. Cocktails will be served in and around unique and private sections of the Elks Tower pool that few have ever seen. Guests then will be escorted into a beautifully decorated ballroom to be joined by military personnel and their families.

Tickets are $250 per person or $2,500 for a table of eight. Table donations include dining with a military veteran, table wine and entry into a special raffle. Plenty of other raffles will be conducted during the event, which likely will become rip-roaring with the 1920s-era theme accented by the sounds of a talented big band.

It will be a night to remember, and for more than the obvious reasons.

From the Fregoso Foundation’s Company Overview: “Our nation’s history is etched in the fields and streams, from sea to sea. There is no greater healing power that out-walking the farthest city light and connecting with the natural blessings of nature.”

The Fregoso Foundation was established in 2010 to “support soldiers, veterans and military families in coping with multiple deployments, visible and invisible combat injuries and reintegration.”

Its mission is simple, according to the El Dorado Hills couple, whose mutual love of the outdoors and their deep faith in God helped show them the way. That love and faith have “provided the passion, the partnerships, the people, the vision, the leadership and the plan to connect soldiers, veterans and military families with the great healing power and natural blessings of nature,” states the overview.

Max, 47, who himself is an Army veteran who joined up in 1986, grew up in the Red Bluff area, where he became an avid hunter, fisherman and skier. After leaving military service in 1990, he moved to Sacramento to become a carpenter, starting Fregoso Builders Inc. That company’s success allowed him and his wife, Kelly, also 47, to extend a hand to veterans and their families.

The couple thought to help maybe three to five veterans initially by taking them hunting, but within the first three months of the Fregoso Foundation’s existence, there were 30 guys on the waiting list for an outdoors experience.

“It’s just a different way to give back,” said Max, who added that a lot of the trips involve injured veterans with special needs that must be met in order to thoroughly enjoy the experiences offered by the foundation. Such trips have involved water skiing at Tahoe, houseboats at Shasta Lake and other memorable, healing endeavors.

The veterans pay not one dime for the experiences, which are intended to heal their hearts as well as provide a healthy outlet for their bodies. The Fregosos said outdoor sporting goods outfitters have been extremely generous, and support from other commercial vendors such as ski resorts and others have been greatly appreciated.

One sobering fact mentioned in a foundation brochure points out that military veterans are more than twice as likely to commit suicide as others, and that nearly 20 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are apt to suffer from either post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. It is because of such statistics that the group was formed, according to the brochure, which also states it seeks to honor those veterans and their service to freedom.

Members of the Fregoso Foundation range from World War II to the Persian Gulf War, and there is no age limit for those veterans who might wish to be included in a foundation-sponsored outing.

One foundation member who joined because she was impressed with its work is Debbie Dobson, who helps with publicizing the organization’s events and other chores. Dobson said she found herself at loose ends upon retiring, when she spotted a story about the Fregoso Foundation.

“I have been involved with the foundation for going on three years now. I had just retired and knew that I wanted to do volunteer work and could not decide where,” she said. “One day I read a great article on the Fregoso Outdoor Foundation and immediately called Max to see if he needed any help — and the rest is history.

“This coming May will be the fourth Fregoso Outdoor Foundation Gala and attendance has grown to over 300,” Dobson added. “The veterans are
incredible and so are the people who attend the gala. It is awesome to be around so many people who have rallied for a common cause with so much compassion for those that serve and sacrifice for us all. ”

The foundation also helps veterans with trips to the doctor or to hospitals, and even helps to find them jobs. Simply put, if a veteran needs a helping hand, it’s a great idea to reach out to the Fregoso Foundation.

And if you are one who wishes to help out a group intent on aiding military veterans, plan to attend the Warriors in Black Tie Inaugural Ball Nov. 23 — and give thanks.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit fregosofoundation.org.

Pat Lakey


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