Our Heroes Night Out, an organization that brings entertainment and programs to veterans, has a mission to honor and support veterans living in a treatment facility at the Northport Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.
Before this organization was created, Carol Klein and Garrett Klein, her son, solely entertained children with magic and balloon twisting with MisMatch & YooHoo, a family entertainment company in Levittown created in 1984.
In February of 2009, she got a request from the Northport VA to do balloons and magic for their annual winter festival. However, there was a larger number of veterans in attendance than there were kids. Carol shared how she began teaching some of the veterans how to make balloon animals and the secrets to some simple magic tricks.
“They really enjoyed learning the techniques and expressed an interest in learning more,” said Carol.
After realizing her family entertainment company does balloon and magic workshops for the Girl Scouts and libraries throughout Long Island, Carol thought it would be fun to also bring these workshops to the veterans.
A few weeks later, MisMatch & YooHoo went to the Salvation Army facility at the Northport VA, where the homeless veterans live, to teach them balloon sculptures.
“Seeing how appreciative the veterans were, we felt compelled to do more,” said Carol, noting that after the event, the house manager called her and explained how the veterans loved it. “It’s sad to see that our veterans are homeless, and seeing them being so uplifted by what we were doing, I thought to myself, what else could we do to furthermore uplift their spirits.”
Garrett shared that their goal was to help the veterans feel good in their time of need.
“It was nice to see how they appreciated the little things,” he said.
Following that encounter, in July 2009, the Milleridge Inn Restaurant in Jericho donated and hosted an outing for the veterans that the Klein family organized. Along with the food donation, the Kleins brought along Magician Philip Levy for entertainment and Elite Transport provided the transportation for the event.
“The willingness of these people to help us honor these veterans gave my family and I the inspiration to form Our Heroes Night Out soon after,” said Carol.
After the organization was created, the family began seeking out comedians, musicians, bands and volunteers that are willing to share their talents and skills with the veterans.
While the organization used to be at the Beacon House, it closed down and got moved to Building 64B, where they also help veterans who are dealing with problems centered around depression and addiction.
“Basically, it’s been a long and great journey, but through it, I have met so many amazing people,” she said.
With Our Heroes Night Out, the whole Klein family helps out with entertaining the veterans and with the research in finding people.
“My family definitely cheers me on with what I am doing,” said Carol.
Since Garrett owns a pizza place, he occasionally makes pizza for veterans and since her sister owns a thrift store, she sometimes gives items to the veterans.
“Everyone is very helpful and nice enough to say yes,” Carol said.
She went on to explain how her brother was in the Air Force in Vietnam, her son-in-law was a Marine in Iraq and her nephew is currently in the Navy.
“They inspired me to go further with the organization. I found that something was bigger than me and when I met the veterans, I thought okay this is it,” she said.
After having an encounter with Carol and her organization, Keith S., a veteran of the U.S. Army, shared his appreciation for the care he was given by strangers on their website.
“Carol Klein takes the time once or twice a month to bring smiles to homeless veterans faces,” he said. “She teams up with other caring citizens who take their time to come out and bring joy to veterans who feel hopeless.”
Carol explained that a goal for the organization is to simply continue and help the veterans.
“We don’t know what they’ve gone through and to just help their spirits and honor them is a way to say thank you,” she said.
To share your time or talents with the veterans, or to donate a dinner or snacks, call 516-579-6524 or visit www.foreverfunentertainers.com/contact-us-today.