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Local Artist Helps VOC

Steven Argento is the curator of the Ramon Santiago Gallery. Santiago helped save the Veterans Outreach Center before he passed away in 2001.
Veterans Day is Monday, which is also the Veterans Outreach Center's 40th anniversary in Rochester. The Stars & Stripes Celebration is the VOC's biggest night of the year. Steve Argento is a VOC success story.

Argento is curator of the Ramon Santiago Gallery. Santiago was Argento's uncles. The artist helped save the Veterans Outreach Center before he passed away in 2001. 

"He created a piece called Never Again....that helped raise the funds for the original renovation of the corner of the building they purchased on Comfort Street," Argento said.

At the bottom of the piece are the words "never again shall one generation of veterans forget another." For Steve, that is what the VOC is about. 

"It's a gem in Rochester. They've helped so many people, including myself. They saved my life," he said.

Steve was a military police officer in the Army on the North Korean border. Then life fell apart.

"It's kind of a rags-to-riches back to rags story," he said.

After the service, he started a construction company. He lived the good life. But a cocaine addiction cost him almost everything. 

"You know I was deemed homeless by the VA just a few years ago and I went through Veterans Court," he said.

The VOC helped this veteran get clean. Then he was diagnosed with cancer.

"You know they helped get me back into the VA. I went and had a physical and sure enough that's when they caught the cancer. So I got lucky," Argento said.

Steve still keeps in touch with his VOC case manager and friend Greg McClune. 

"He's a good example to the other guys who are participating because he came up from nothing and managed to turn his life around right now where his is a pillar in the society," he said.

Steve now understands why Uncle Ramon cared so deeply for the Veterans Outreach Center. After all, he is living proof that the VOC saves lives- sometimes more than once. 
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