Dine out Tuesday and help veterans

Staff Report


• Dine out at your favorite participating restaurant on June 2. A list is available at

• Purchase tickets to the VIP dinner at L’Hosteria at

• If you can’t attend, consider purchasing a ticket for a local veteran to attend on your behalf.

• Support the emergency fund or join the coalition. No donation is too big or small. Individual memberships are $20 and business memberships are $100. Both include invitations to quarterly coalition meetings and a decal to highlight your support for area veterans. Donations and membership requests can be sent to the central processing office at: RMHS – Western Slope Veterans Coalition, 9900 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, CO 80231

The Western Slope Veteran’s Coalition (WSVC) on Tuesday will partner with more than 40 restaurants to benefit veterans living in the Roaring Fork and Eagle Valleys at the first ever Dining Out For Veterans fundraiser.

Sponsored by LIV Sotheby’s, participating restaurants on the Western Slope will dedicate 10 to 20 percent of their proceeds on June 2 to the WSVC’s Veterans Emergency Fund. Without spending an extra penny, diners can contribute to this fund just by visiting a participating restaurant. All of the money raised during the Dining Out For Vets event will go to emergency requests from Veterans in need on the Western Slope in Colorado.

In addition, diners can attend a VIP three-course dinner at L’Hosteria restaurant in downtown Aspen for $125 per person ($75 tax deductible). This VIP dinner will include a short program on the coalition, a chance to meet with staff and clients, and numerous drawings for area gift certificates.

“It’s a nice, friendly way to support the vets,” said Charlie Hopton, a Korean War Veteran and successful entrepreneur who lives in Aspen and is a major donor to the emergency fund. “Everybody has to eat, so this is a great way to support both the vets and local restaurants during the off-season.”

The WSVC is building the emergency fund to assist veterans and their families living in the Roaring Fork and Eagle valleys with housing, utilities, food, mental health counseling, transportation and employment support. Veterans in need of assistance can turn to the emergency fund for help by filling out a simple application at Applications are quickly evaluated by a committee of veterans and volunteers on the Western Slope.

In just its first six weeks of operation, the emergency fund has helped five veterans with everything from housing to work equipment, such as steel-toed shoes. Each emergency fund request is approved by a community committee that looks at other resources accessed, the availability of public or private resources and the willingness of the Veteran to work toward self-sufficiency.

Based in Grand Junction and Carbondale, the WSVC was formed by Rocky Mountain Human Services to connect Veterans to the most effective services available — whether state or federal, city or county, public or private. The coalition focuses on services to both veterans and their families in the areas of home, health and employment. The WSVC is also a coordinating body for local initiatives for veterans. In time, it would like to build a center to honor and connect veterans of all eras, whether struggling to successfully reengage in life post-service or looking for new ways to give back.

Mike Mercatoris is an owner of ZG Hospitality with three restaurants in Glenwood Springs — Zheng, Grind and the Riviera Supper Club. All three will participate in Dining Out for Vets on Tuesday. Mercatoris had two uncles who served in the Marines, and his father and grandfather served in the Air Force. “The thing I found really cool … is to help the veterans in our area to get back on our feet. If they need a little help, it’s there. It’s the least we can do,” Mercatoris said

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