Marking the long-time service of many of their members, there was still one thing noticed by the executive of the Saanich Peninsula branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
They are a small group operating in a very small space.
Frank Hawboldt, membership chair for Branch 37 located in North Saanich, says the small space for the Legion goes back quite a few years. Membership in those days, he explained, was quite low. With expenses outpacing revenues collected in dues, the branch was forced to sell their building. Today, they meet in the basement of the same structure but have seen an uptick in people joining the organization.
“This room, if we had all of our members turn out, would be too small,” Hawboldt said.
That, combined with ongoing maintenance issues, has the branch looking for a new location. Yet that, too, has its own challenges, Hawboldt said. Rents are high and revenues are not yet at a point that the Legion can jump at the first empty building that comes up.
He and other members have their feelers out, looking for a good space at a good price. Realistically, Hawboldt said, it will probably take some time.
In the meantime, the 160 ordinary members and 40 associates carry on. Hawboldt said an ideal number for the branch is more like 200.
“We need more,” Hawboldt said. “We’ve lost a number of veterans in the last few months.”
That’s why it’s important to recognize those who have served with the Legion for many years.
At an awards presentations on Sunday, May 18, 14 people received long service pins from the Royal Canadian Legion. Those range from 30 to 55 years.
The pins were received by those who could be there with good cheer and humour. Branch President Mary Trettman said it’s important for the members to have a good time at their meetings. It keeps the atmosphere light and fosters long-term friendships.
A service organization that aids veterans of any age, the Legion’s main fundraising activity takes place in the fall with their Poppy Campaign leading up to November 11.
The campaign does end at that point, however. Trettman noted that the effort, locally, raises around $80,000 each year. Those funds help support hospital programs, veterans, senior living facilities and cadet groups.
As well, local branches of the Legion contribute to scholarships and bursaries for area youth.
To learn more about the Royal Canadian Legion’s Saanich Peninsula branch, call 250-656-0758.