Legion post in Maine needs more members, help to survive
Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
LIVERMORE FALLS, Maine — Veterans and auxiliary members are trying to find ways to keep the doors of the American Legion George Bunten Post 10 hall open.
“This building and organization have been here so long. We would hate to see it fall by the wayside,” Commander Randy Tirrell of Livermore said.
They are struggling to keep it open just like many other organizations are doing, he said.
The Legion had to stop bingo in October 2010 because it was losing money after helping pay the bills for more than 40 years.
Post 10 and Auxiliary Unit 10 have tried other ways to make money to help support its programs it offers to the community.
They started holding a public supper every third Saturday of the month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the hall on Reynolds Avenue after bingo shut down. They deliver the meals, too, if someone cannot make it to the supper. A bake sale is also held during the supper.
Everything is going up in cost, auxiliary member Evelyn Chabot of Livermore Falls said.
A new heating system, including a furnace, a chimney and a water heater, was needed, her husband, past Commander Normand Chabot, said.
The hall can be rented for weddings, showers, funeral receptions and other occasions, Doris Tripp, an auxiliary member from Livermore, said. A rummage sale has also been held there.
The building is handicap accessible.
“The suppers are helping. It is not enough though. We need to generate more revenue to survive because, with our funds, we are not going to survive,” Tirrell said.
Members are also trying to bring in younger generations of veterans and their family members.
There are 119 members today, but there used to be a lot more, he said.
A small group of people do most of the work, just like in other organizations, Normand Chabot said.
The Legion has a flag store and sells U.S. flags of all sizes. They also sell Maine and POW/MIA flags. There is also a flag disposal box in front of the hall so people can drop them off, Tirrell said.
They also sell Rada Cutlery, which is 100 percent American made, Evelyn Chabot, Normand's wife, said.
Each member has their own reasons they joined the American Legion.
“When I was looking for an organization to join, I chose the Legion because they didn't serve alcohol,” Tirrell said. “I felt if I am going to talk to other veterans I want to talk sober.”
Tirrell served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Grenada Conflict, he said.
Normand Chabot served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and saw combat.
Auxiliary President Sheila Weed of Livermore said she joined Unit 10 to be able to do things to help veterans. Several of her family members have served or are serving in the military.
Chabot and Tripp also wanted to help.
Among the programs the Legion offers are educating children on what being a veteran means and respect for the flag. They also do Girls and Boys State, participate in the Honor Guard and speak at Legion members' funeral services and give Bibles to their family. They also create a Hill of Flags to remember or honor veterans and participate in parades and services for veterans.
“We want new veterans in here,” Tirrell said. “We want to share with them the information we have that could provide help to them.”
They also want to teach younger generations that the freedom they enjoy is not free, he said.
“It has been paid for dearly by the veterans who fought for the country,” Tirrell said.