Facing a shortage of help, the Terrace Royal Canadian Legion Branch 13 is looking for more volunteers to learn about their organization at their general meeting on Oct. 12.
The Legion organizes several events in Terrace, including the Riverboat Days Parade, Remembrance Day, concerts and dinners at the branch.
There is a current struggle to find volunteers help out with annual campaigns and events, says Cde. Brian Kirkaldy. With only a few core group members to call on, regular volunteers are working hard to be available for all the events, often working late into the night.
“We’re an event-driven Legion because we don’t have the regular customers coming in and paying the bills anymore, and that’s a real struggle for us too. The people putting the events on are really starting to burn out,” Kirkaldy says.
“It would be a real sad thing if we had to close the doors because no one is willing to step up and help.”
Currently the Legion is looking for help with their poppy campaign, which raises money to help veterans and their families. Then with long-time Riverboat Days parade organizer Joyce Bradley taking a step back from her role this year, the strain on the Legion’s core group is becoming challenging.
“Just to help share the responsibility. Right now, just the core group of people are doing all the events. Over Christmas right now, it looks like we won’t get any weekends off because we’ve got to be here,” says branch president Agnes Taylor.
The Legion has been trying to change its image that it is only for older people, Taylor says in noting most of its events are for younger crowds. And having younger people become volunteers would provide additional energy.
“Not only do we support veterans, we support community and our veterans, it’s a two-pronged operation for us,” says Taylor, noting there are a lot of younger members on their executive board.
“People think they have to be a member to come here, and that’s not true anymore,” Kirkaldy adds. “The Legion is open to the public, and the public can even participate on committees. They’re welcome to come to the branch.”
Organizers are trying to rebrand the Legion into something more modern. In the last five years, the branch has done a number of renovations to refresh the 76-year old heritage building on Legion Avenue, including new furnaces, kitchen equipment, audio and lighting systems, washrooms, dance floor and stage area.
Last year, the Legion also changed its liquor licence so that visitors don’t need to sign in at the door to get a drink at the bar. Then this fall, there are plans to build a new entrance way using federal and provincial grants.
Volunteerism is down across the board for organizations in Terrace, but Taylor says it’s not only about what you can give back, it’s what you can gain.
Anyone interested in volunteering, becoming a member – or even spending some time with veterans in their community – don’t have to do much more than walk through the Legion’s doors.
“You can meet people, listen to music, network,” Taylor says.
“If someone wants to come in and do a meat draw, perfect! I’ll train you. We will show you how it’s done. Come help on steak night, that’s one event once a month. Sell tickets at the door, that’s all we ask. You may even get a free steak at the end of the night.”
The general meeting on Oct. 12 is an open house and is set for people to sit in and learn more about the Legion and the events they host. The meeting starts at 2 p.m. at 4425 Legion Ave.