In the fall of 2008, thirty World War II veterans met at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. As the veterans shared their stories and experiences, one of the organizers of the meeting, historian Todd DePastino, realized that the event should happen again, and be open to the public. A second meeting was held, then another, and soon, Veterans Breakfast Club was founded as a nonprofit dedicated to hosting storytelling events for veterans of all eras and branches of service. In the years since its founding, Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC) grew to include over 7,500 attendees in 39 locations throughout the United States.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and in-person events weren’t possible for the organization. DePastino and VBC pivoted to offering online, virtual community events to continue their programming throughout the pandemic. Each week, the organization hosted specialized events focusing on different groups of veterans, ranging from those who served after September 11, 2001, to military dog handlers.
“The VBC offers a one-of-a-kind community that brings together veterans, their families, and civilians to share, celebrate, and preserve veterans’ stories,” explained Depastino.
In addition to moving their storytelling events online, Veterans Breakfast Club has introduced a podcast called The Scuttlebutt, which helps listeners understand military culture and shares more veterans’ experiences.
The organization isn’t done growing and changing yet–in mid-2021, DePastino and Board President, Mike Cherock introduced Boardable to the VBC board, which has allowed it to expand the reach and profile of the board.
“Before Boardable, our board members were all local, able to attend in-person quarterly board meetings,” DePastino said. “Now, with Boardable, we’re able to recruit talented volunteers from across the country. For a small nonprofit like ours with national ambitions, this shift has been a critical part of our strategy for growing our organization and expanding our mission’s reach.”
And as the organization’s reach expands and allows more veterans’ stories to be told virtual (and hopefully, in-person), DePastino’s work as executive director will be streamlined thanks to implementing Boardable.
“Boardable has allowed us not only to share all media, including reports and agendas, easily on the Boardable platform,” he shared. “We hold our meetings on Boardable and easily share what we’re discussing so–literally–we’re all on the same page.”
To learn more and join the VBC community, visit veteransbreakfastclub.org.
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