GUYSBOROUGH – The Royal Canadian Legion in Guysborough has long been a mainstay in the community; a refuge for veterans, a venue for community events and the Emergency Response Centre for the Guysborough Memorial Hospital. But members of the Legion, which now number 41, are fearful that a lack of support will see this important community hub close its doors.
The Legion has a monthly operating budget of approximately $1000. Money for the general maintenance and running of the Legion comes mainly from events such as weekly Bingo, Sunday night card plays, community dart leagues and rentals. While these events bring in money, they don’t bring in members and that is what is most needed to keep the Legion open and operating.
Currently, Legion members who are able volunteer their time to do the behind the scenes work for fundraising events. Duties include cleaning bathrooms, sweeping floors, and running the kitchen. More hands are needed to lighten the load and increase the number of events the Legion can hold.
Edith Walker, a dedicated Legion member and current treasurer at the Guysborough Legion Branch # 81, says that the members that constantly do the heavy lifting are starting to get burnt out.
In recent years Legion members have sold tickets on Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, held pancake breakfasts, wing night, yard sales, lobster dinners, fish fries, BBQ’s and an annual Christmas Breakfast with Santa. They have opened the door to provincial government nomination meetings, election polling booths, Union meetings, funeral receptions, Senior Fun Days, birthday parties, Hospital Bazaar, and Christmas Craft Sales. They have catered the Milford Haven employee Christmas Dinner, Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and made the building available to the Come Home Week Parade Committee. It is a busy schedule and more hands are needed to maintain such events and opportunities.
“In the past month we have put out a call for new members; to date only three. At present all these efforts are being carried out by our executive; dedicated members: Comrades Edith Walker, treasurer; Joy Hart-Matte, secretary; Heather Toole, service officer and Mary Desmond, chaplain. Eileen Haynes oversees the Membership Committee and Heather Hadley takes care of Bingo and our rentals...We would like to acknowledge those who have generously volunteered their time in the kitchen, canteen, bar, bingo and maintenance,” said Walker.
While Walker is keen to emphasize the role the Legion plays in the community as a whole, she wants to emphasize that the original and continuing mandate of the Legion is to support veterans. “Things have changed...but the mandate has never changed. Veterans first. True we have fewer older veterans but we do have younger veterans who do or will require the Legion. But will we be there? Not if we have forgotten why we are here.”
On November 27 there will be a general meeting at which time elections will be held to fill positions for the next two years. Interested individuals should call the Legion at 902-533-3396 and leave a message.
Lest we forget.