As we prepare to celebrate the contributions of our military veterans this November, we are reminded of the great debt we owe all who serve, heal and protect us. The Good News Center of Utica partners with a local healthcare provider to provide programs, support and recognition for all who serve.

“Flags for Heroes” is a product of the collaboration between the Good News Center and Sitrin Health Care, a New Hartford–based provider of a wide range of health programs and services. GNC executive director and CEO Judy Hauck says that the community partnership started seven years ago with a goal of honoring local heroes and raising money for their care.

“It took a year to get it kicked off originally,” explains Houck, who adds that “we wanted to do something for the veterans in community.” She adds that, after a lot of local research, they discovered the Sitrin Military Rehabilitation Program which Hauck says provides rehab for post-9/11 veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with therapies that are more unique than others found in the area.

“They do things like equine therapy, aquatic therapy, dance movement therapy,” which Hauk says is beyond what one might normally find in a counseling environment.

The City of Utica granted the program use of land along Memorial Parkway where other memorials and military monuments are located. “That very first year we posted 1,000 flags along Memorial Parkway in Utica,” said Hauck. Flags fly from eight-foot-tall poles and offer a stunning visual impact to those traveling in the area as a reminder that “everybody is a hero to somebody,” adds Hauck. While most sponsored flags celebrate the contributions of veterans, Hauck explains that other heroes can be included in the celebration.

“You can honor a first responder, you can honor a front-line worker, the people who have stepped up especially during the past 18 months.” Last year, $20,000 was raised from the campaign to help fund the programs Sitrin offers to those in need.

Hauk adds that the Good News Center mission is to “share the love of Jesus Christ through hospitality, spiritual growth and renewal, and also to work within the parishes and communities.” The Flags for Heroes program is a perfect opportunity for the Center to put their mission into action because “many times people will see what you do rather than what you say. We want to show through our actions that we are here to help within the community, we are here to share that love of Jesus Christ with people who are suffering or in need.”

To sponsor a flag or donate to the program, contact the Good News Center at 315-735-6210 or visit them at

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