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The Telling Project Providing An Outlet For Veterans To Share Their Story With The East End Community

Anastasia Lennon

On Friday, February 16, four local veterans and one mother will share their stories on stage at Bay Street Theater. The event is presented by The Telling Project, a national performing arts non-profit, and the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund. With its saying "it's time to speak, it's time to listen," The Telling Project aims to foster a better understanding of the military and veteran experience through performing arts.

Sharing their stories are Howard Jackson, a World War II Army veteran, now 93-years-old, who flew over 20 secret missions and received a Purple Heart for his service; Jim Colligan, a Vietnam War Army veteran that received the Bronze Star; Tom Spotteck, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who began service at an early age and was deployed to Afghanistan twice; Michael Zachariah Mundy, another U.S. Marine Corps veteran who enlisted at the young age of 17; and Chrys Kester, the Gold Star mother of Joe Theinert, an Army first lieutenant who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010 at 24-years-old.

Theinert's death inspired his family to establish the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships and supports other military/veteran organizations in Joseph's memory. Since 2011, the memorial fund has awarded scholarships to over 50 high school students, cadets, and college students on the East End, New York, and Pennsylvania.

In addition to Theinert's mother, speakers Spotteck and Mundy have personal connections with the late soldier. All three were part of the Shelter Island School District and grew up together. Spotteck received an offer to re-enlist around the time Theinert was killed but decided against it.

"I'm so proud of all of our participants for sharing their stories with our community," shared Melissa Mundy, sister of Michael Mundy and childhood friend of Theinert. "Public speaking is never easy and talking about such personal and emotional subject matter can make it even harder, but they are all being so brave and doing such an incredible job."

The Telling Project has given a platform to over 180 veterans to express themselves and share their experiences with many communities. The organization prepares scripts for the speakers based on their personal interview transcripts. The next step in the process involves performance training and rehearsal of the monologues. After many weeks of preparation, the story is ready to be told to the audience.

Bay Street Theater, the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund, and The Telling Project have collaborated to provide this community with a unique and personal opportunity to hear the stories of these five individuals whose lives have been impacted and shaped by the military.

The event begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public, however, the suggested donation is $20 per person.

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, please visit JJTMF.org and thetellingproject.org.

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