Coming Together to Honor our Community’s Veterans

A story of the partnership of the Community Foundation and the local non-profit, Operation Service, to establish a Veterans Memorial site in Leominster

Operation Service, a newly formed non-profit, is committed to educating people in Fitchburg and Leominster about the sacrifices made by those who serve, and providing support to veterans and their families.


The organization’s founder and director, Joseph Firmani worked with Community Foundation’s Grants Manager, Maribeth Janssens, to complete a grant application that would support Operation Service’s efforts to bring “The Wall That Heals” to Fitchburg.


“I can’t say enough good things about Maribeth,” says Firmani. “Community Foundation’s application process is rigorous – as it should be - and Maribeth was a pleasure to work with. “We also owe a debt of gratitude to Community Foundation’s President Phil Grzewinski, who guided us through the process of becoming our own 501(c) organization.”


The Wall That Heals is a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The cost to have “The Wall” transported and set up is $8,000, and Firmani, who was instrumental in bringing the monument to Leominster in 2016, knew there would be additional expenses as well. “Seeing it is such a powerful and positive experience so we wanted to make sure we also had funding to promote the event and add special touches to enrich the experience for visitors.”


During the 5 days that Fitchburg hosted The Wall That Heals in summer of 2018, it attracted more than 10,000 visitors. The Community Foundation’s $4,00 grant helped kick off Operation Service’s successful fundraising initiative that ultimately raised $16,000. With the extra funds, the organization was also able to cover the cost of having the U.S. Army Band perform, and provide every veteran who visited with a special commemorative coin. “We had about $2,000 remaining that went to support the local Vietnam Veterans Association,” says Firmani.


Firmani’s efforts to give back to veterans began in 2010 when he and is wife Catherine first began donating Christmas trees to military families. “We were seeing stories on social media about families having to decide between buying a Christmas tree or buying groceries,” Firmani recalls. “I started to make some phone calls to see if I could get a discount for buying multiple trees, and once the sellers found out why I was doing this, it just took off,” he says.


Seven years later, in 2017,  “Trees for Soldiers” evolved into Operation Service, increasing both its mission, and the size of its impact: last year the organization provided 436 trees to veterans and their families.  “This year, we are hoping to be able to donate 500 trees,” says Firmani.


If you would like to join Community Foundation by contributing to Operation Service please visit




649 John Fitch Hwy
Fitchburg, MA 01420


Phone: 978-345-8383
Fax: 978-345-1459
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