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From left to right, Lt. SBCUSD Explorer Josh Echevarria, Sgt. 1st Class U.S. Army recruiter Joshua Alicea and SBCUSD police officer Matthew Montero were honored guest at the a luncheon at Celebrities in San Bernardino. The event was to say thank you to our veterans and first responders.

Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Celebrities Sports Grill in San Bernardino, several civic groups invited local veterans and first responders to a free barbecue lunch.

Tanya Rhoades-Hensley, organizer of the event, was elated by the involvement of the community.

“We worked with Max Zahir, the owner of Celebrities, to sponsor the event,” said Rhoades-Hensley. “Today’s event is a thank you to our veterans, first responders and their families. The purpose of this lunch is to be a positive community event for everyone to enjoy.”

Rhoades-Hensley is appreciative of the overwhelmingly positive response that she has received from the community to support her events.

“The community comes together to support these types of events, and that’s a great thing,” said Rhoades-Hensley. “I look at this to synergize and bring people together in our community.

“Max and his wife have been very generous and have given me an avenue to help our community.”

Army Sgt. First Class Julio Alicea, a recruiter from San Bernardino, and his team helped serve the veterans and other guests at the luncheon.

“I think this appreciation event is awesome,” said Alicea. “We [the military] try to get out there and be part of the community.

“I’m here to help people out to give them a better future.”

Alicea had praise for the owner of Celebrities.

“Max is great,” said Alicea. “He knows the benefits of people serving in the U.S. Army and the community. He has seen it.

“We help people all over the world, and it’s nice that we hold these types of events to help people in our country.”

San Andreas High School, of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, also contributed to the festivities, according to Rhoades-Hensley.

“San Andreas High School, with their technology farm, donated all the lettuce for today for our hamburgers. So, it is farm to fork. The lettuce was picked fresh, yesterday.”

Lt. Explorer Joshua Echevarria came with a contingency of explorers from the SBCUSD Police Department’s Explorer Program.

Echevarria, a graduate from Arroyo Valley High School, was appreciative of event.

“I think this is a very important event, especially because the way things are going at this moment regarding law enforcement,” said Echevarria. “Events like these bring the community together with law enforcement.

“It’s also important to recognize the service of our veterans and all the people that have served this country.

“It took courage for the veterans to do what most of us are scared to do.”

School board member Scott Wyatt was sharing the barbecue grill duties with former San Andreas High School Principal Ed Hensley.

“This is absolutely an amazing event,” said Wyatt. “We look at the freedoms that we have.

“We have to look at why we have these freedoms. It is because of the men and women that have served and are still serving in our military, law enforcement and public safety.”

Wyatt was thankful for Max Zahir and his wife, Ed and Tanya Hensley, the Rotarians, the SBCUSD Explorer program and other civic groups that came to show appreciation.

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