A fixture in Sidney for both veterans and civilians alike is looking for new ways to increase their membership numbers.
Even though Sidney’s Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans club sounds like it is only for veterans, it is in fact open to all citizens of good standing and has been that way for many years, said the club’s bar manager, Dion Amyotte.
“Because of the name ANAVETS people automatically assume the club is just for veterans, and while we cater to veterans we are also open for any citizen in good standing to become a member,” said Amyotte.
The club, dubbed ANAVETS Unit 302, is located on Fourth Street in Sidney and currently has around 700 members. Amyotte said he sees around 150 of those members on a regular basis, along with a handful of Second World War veterans who still frequent the club.
“It’s really amazing to see those men come out and be a part of the club. Some of the stories they have are things no one in the younger generations will ever experience,” said Amyotte.
ANAVETS is a national organization with clubs all over Canada and individual clubs raise money for various causes through events.
Unit 302’s main fundraiser, said Amyotte, is their weekly meat draws which take place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Money from the meat draws goes into the Unit’s fundraising account and is dispersed throughout the community.
This past July the club donated $11,000 back into the community to local causes like the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation, the Broadmead Care Foundation, the Sidney North Saanich RCMP Youth Program and the Saanich Peninsula Pipe Band.
“The charitable aspect of the club is huge,” explained Amyotte.
“Members know that the money they spent on meat draws or event tickets is all put right back into the community.”
Amyotte said he’s keen on attracting new members to the club because of the camaraderie that Unit 302 provides.
“It’s a great place for people of any age to come and socialize and have fun. I think we offer a lot that people don’t know about — but it can also be hard because it is a club and I think people may feel intimidated to approach us to see what it’s all about. I always encourage people to come in and see what we have here, it’s a great place.”
Amyotte also noted that membership fees for the club are nominal and range from $35 (for senior veterans) to $45 dollars (for civilians).
“That’s less than four dollars a month,” noted Amyotte.
The not-for-profit club is open daily and hosts events like barbecues, dances and golf tournaments on a regular basis. There’s also an active Ladies Auxiliary associated with the club.
For more information, call 250-656-3777.