Sabrina Lacy watched her first baseball game with family and fellow veterans at Monday’s Long Island Ducks Labor Day game against the Somerset Patriots.
And it was free.
“I feel inspired and so proud to come here and see everyone and the veterans coming together to enjoy a baseball game,” said Lacy, 52, of Central Islip, commander of the Brentwood Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6431.
Lacy was among 75 military veterans who watched the game, courtesy of Bethpage Federal Credit Union, at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip.
Many of those veterans have been involved in United Way of Long Island’s VetsBuild program, which trains veterans in energy efficiency, and the Military Family Assistance Project, which provides job training and employment for returning Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers.
Before the game, Theresa Regnante, chief executive of United Way of Long Island, threw out the first pitch. Following the first inning, Bethpage Federal Credit Union presented a $100,000 check to United Way’s VetsBuild program and Military Family Assistance Project.
“We’re receiving the gift to kick off the initiative to hire a case manager to make sure we get at least 150 veterans employed in one year,” Regnante said.
Lacy joined the Army in 1985, serving multiple tours in Germany and Korea up until 2004.
“Right now, I’m looking for a part-time job,” said Lacy, a retired nurse. “I need to keep myself busy. On this Labor Day, I’m thankful for all that this country has done for me.”
About five months ago, Lacy met Abdi Akgun, a Marine sergeant who served in Iraq from 2000-04, at a VetsBuild program in April, which taught a group of veterans how to make their homes more energy efficient.
“We’re always looking to find alternative forms of energy,” said Akgun, 31, of Lindenhurst. “After taking the program, I watched our energy bills go down. We saved a lot of money.”
Frank Puente, who served in the Army from 2000-05 in Iraq and Kosovo, watched the game with his father Lucano, 60, of Central Islip, and fellow veteran Joe Ayala, 54, of Central Islip, a Marine who served in the early 1970s.
“It’s nice here. I’ve never been to a Ducks game,” said Puente, 31, of Central Islip. “It’s nice that they think of us.”
Although the Ducks were defeated 4-3, Lacy and her family stayed until the very end to watch a Fireworks by Grucci display to close out the night.
“Being here today, I’m inspired,” Lacy said. “People serving overseas are starting to come home and we need things like this for them to do with their families. It’s good to see the veterans here and all the people who put a lot of hard work into making America what it is today.”
Above: From left, Frank Puente, who served in the Army from 2000-05 in Iraq and Kosovo, watched the Long Island Ducks Labor Day game at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip with his father Lucano, 60, of Central Islip, and fellow veteran Joe Ayala, 54, of Central Islip, a Marine who served in the early 1970s. (Sept. 3, 2012)