The Royal Canadian Legion is wellknown as a place for veterans to socialize, but legions provide much more to the communities they are part of, says Wendy Bolt, president of Branch 636 in Minden.
Bolt said their main priority is to support veterans and their families but “we are supportive of the community as well. That is what the veterans wanted to do.”
The legion in Minden, named after Mabel D. Brannigan, a Second World War veteran, is open to veterans and non-veterans to join.
We encourage veterans and their families to reach out to their local legions for any kind of support or assistance and you don’t have to belong to the legion to get support. We have a Veteran Services officer that can help with any kind of support needed from Veterans Affairs. We support individuals with assistive devices like wheelchairs, or other equipment,” said Bolt. “We also helped a lady, whose husband was a veteran and had passed away, to put a partial new roof on her house.”
The Minden legion offers a variety of opportunities for seniors to socialize, such as playing cards. There are also other groups that use the facility such as a rug-hooking group. They serve lunch Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Saturdays a brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Fridays, they also have a fish supper.
Bolt added the community supports the poppy campaign every year and, “we do very well because of the local community.”
The legion supports youth sport programs, breakfast programs, the YWCA women’s shelter, the Minden Community Food Centre and cadets. “We also provide about 10-15 backpacks with school supplies in September to the elementary school,” Bolt said.
Other ways the legion works with the community is by renting out spaces for special events such as celebrations of life for veterans and non-veterans. They also host birthdays, mostly for seniors. “We provide a place for people to come,” said Bolt. “We are a charity, so whatever money we make, over and above our costs, we give back through donations.”
One of the current initiatives is upgrading bathrooms, so they are running a 50/50 draw.
Ongoing work includes talking to people about how the legion could assist them and making sure the community knows what the legion does.
“We have had several students do their community hours here. The ones we have right now did their hours last year and wanted to come back to volunteer this year,” Bolt said. “We do need people that will come in and be back-up if someone gets sick or something, but we have a great group of people here.”