January 15, 2016

Supporting Veterans one woman at a time - By Michelle Libby

The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148 in Windham is in its second year and making strides at its mission of supporting Veterans. The group is small, only have 20 members, but they are very active and are looking for more members who meet the qualifications and want to help Veterans locally.  

The American Legion Post 148 wanted to create a group for the wives and held a meeting to find out if there was interest, according to ALA president Pam Whynot. The wives were excited and found 10 women who were interested in starting the unit. In May 2014, some of the women met to start planning. Officers were voted on and in July 2014 they held a large instillation with State of Maine ALA officers presiding.  

In October, they participated in Boots on the Ground a state program. The Windham unit collected books, DVDs, CDs and VHS tapes to drop off at the Scarborough Veteran’s Home. They donated $5,000 in product value.  

“We have lots of ideas and resources, but without enough people to cover it, it stresses the same few people,” said Whynot.  

The group has supported the legion at Veteran’s Day programming with food. They contributed to Toby’s Dream project to have the parking lot and access road paved and donated a Christmas basket in 2014 to a deserving Veteran.

The women have also volunteered at the Standish Legion Post’s BINGO nights at the Windham Veteran’s Center. By selling sweet, hot dogs and coffee, they raised money for more projects. This past summer, the ALA sent three girls to Girl’s State, a mock government simulation at Husson College in Bangor. Most of that money came from generous donations.  

The ALA also raises money to benefit Veterans by giving red poppy flowers away. Donation are always accepted and most people do donate knowing that the money is kept in a separate account to specifically help Veterans.   

This year the women donated three Christmas baskets to Veterans using poppy money. They bought items for every day use and some special items like hats from the conflict they were a part of.  

Women who want to be a part of the American Legion Auxiliary must be grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives and direct and adopted female descendants of American Legion member or deceased Veterans, who served in the Armed Forces during any conflict from WWI forward. The only paperwork needed is a DD-214 or the connection is a member of an American Legion post.

The biggest struggle for the ALA is membership. “We’ve talked about doing a dinner, yard sale, but you can’t’ do it with six or eight people. You need to have active members,” said Whynot.  

The ALA has many future plans to provide more support to Veterans in a variety of ways. “There are so many Veterans out there that need help,” she added. Whynot would like to see the schools get more involved in the mission and the organization.  

All members of the American Legion and ALA can give information about joining. The ALA meets the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Windham Veterans Center behind The Windham Mall.  

For more about the ALA unit, email pwhynot8179@roadrunner.com or call 892-4720.

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