PRESCOTT - As with any volunteer organization, Legion Branch 97 on Henry Street is finding it hard to recruit new blood. Like the other service groups in town, it appears the same core group is doing the volume of the work and the president says that core group is getting tired.
Following their reopening last Thursday, the Legion is sending out a plea for new members and more volunteers. While trying to get back on track and at the same time introducing new COVID-19 health and safety protocols, there is more work to do than ever before.
"We are here for the Veterans and their families foremost, but we serve the whole community," says Eric Place, President of the Prescott Legion. "We offer activities for seniors; we provide events and activities for kids, and we donate to all the same causes in town as the other groups."
Right now, the Legion is coming back after a five-month closure which saw no income generated, while having to continue to pay hydro, water and heating costs. The Executive Committee felt it was the right time to send a message to their fellow comrades, asking for support.
"We are not asking for a monetary donation, but a donation of your time and expertise," reads the letter which was sent to the membership. "We have committees which are falling by the wayside due to lack of people to participate." In addition to the letter campaign, a volunteer information night is being held September 15 at 7:00 p.m.
In a recent news article, it was stated that Prescott Town Council discussed ways they could help the Legion, but as of September 4, no contact had been made by the town. The federal and provincial governments have promised funding to assist charitable organizations recover from the pandemic, but no further information has been forthcoming. Sources within the Legion Provincial Command are speculating that the government assistance won't be much help to the Legions across Canada, as the promised 83 million is to be shared out with an abundance of similar charitable organizations.
"We have no way of knowing how much that will help or if we will even qualify for it," says John Martineau, Deputy Zone Commander of Zone G3. "We need that help if and when it comes, but right now we need people - new members with new ideas and energy to help share the load."
The Legion is asking for people to consider membership in the Legion for a number of reasons. The main activity you are expected to assist with is the annual Poppy Campaign, when every able member is asked to help with the distribution of poppies. The money received in this campaign cannot be accessed by the Legion for daily expenses - it can only be used with permission of Provincial Command to assist Veterans and their families.
Likewise, any funds raised under the Legion's lottery license. Funds generated from the sales of tickets, draws and raffles must remain in a separate account and can only be spent on prescribed items under the Lottery Act. Again, no daily expenses can be taken from this account.
If you are interested in joining the Legion or becoming a volunteer, please call the branch at 613-925-2752 and leave a message. You could end up cooking a Thursday meal or being Chair of the Public Relations Committee. Help is needed in all areas.