At home, it’s usually determined who handles house upkeep — routine, preventative maintenance and cleaning, outdoor landscaping, and repairs.
But who handles it in an American Legion post home? What role does an American Legion Auxiliary unit play in the upkeep and beautification at the post? And, should there be scheduled preventative maintenance, or should repairs be done as needed?
Generally speaking, members of the Legion, ALA, and the Sons of The American Legion at a particular post reach an unofficial agreement about post upkeep matters. The arrangement can vary from post to post.
At Post 133 in Millbrook, Ala., such matters are a Legion Family affair. Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, and Sons of The American Legion members — plus some of their relatives — team up for an extensive cleanup of their 3,000 square foot post home four times a year, said Post 133 Commander Bo Thompson.
“That’s our house. And we spend almost as much time there as we spend at our [personal] homes,” Thompson added. “When you welcome someone to your home, you want it to be clean. Whenever you say, ‘Hey, stop by the post and see us,’ you want things to look their best.”
Equipment maintenance is done by a professional who also services the refrigeration units quarterly. That maintenance is paid with money from Legion Post 133’s budget.
Outdoor landscaping and beautification around this post, including the installation and upkeep of a flower bed in the front, is done by Auxiliary Unit 133 members.
“We choose to do what we do because we are a Legion Family, and it’s like we are doing a little something to pay back our veterans for all that they have given in their [military] service,” said Unit 133 President Teresa Ginther.
Post 133 also gets a little help from a local high school’s junior ROTC, whose members voluntarily remove cigarette butts from the post’s parking lot.
The proactive approach of undertaking preventative maintenance is coupled with quarterly inspections completed by the maintenance professional. Those inspections are helpful, as the post is subject to health inspections by the local government.
Whether a post should contract with a building management service or a maintenance professional for basic, routine upkeep depends on a post’s budget and whether there is income to support it, Thompson said. “If a post has the ability to generate money and they have a good budget set for the year, then I would recommend they do it.”
Tapping in to any of the expertise Legion Family members may have is helpful. Thompson said Legionnaire and Auxiliary member Leslie Looney, who was Post 133’s first vice commander up until June when she became post commander, has been key in getting the scheduled maintenance program in place.
“She’s a 22-year Air Force veteran. She worked in the maintenance field for aircrafts. And she did maintenance scheduling and maintenance for special ops in the Air Force,” Thompson said about Looney.
Even with all of the preventative upkeep and inspections, things break unexpectedly and require repair. Some things wear out sooner than predicted and need to be replaced. And sometimes, the budget may not account for such unforeseen situations.
In those instances, Thompson said his post will do a couple of things: Legionnaires will host fundraisers, and will ask Unit 133 and Sons Squadron 133 for help. Looney, a dual member, talks with the Auxiliary. And Thompson, also a member of Sons Squadron 133, speaks with the Sons for assistance. Thompson and Looney have been successful in those requests for help.
For example, when Post 133’s kitchen needed a new sanitizer machine, the Auxiliary donated $500 toward the expense of buying a new one.
At Post 133, the unit is not financially obligated to pay for maintenance and repairs to the post home. Neither are the Sons, which is a program within The American Legion.
Unit 133 gives more than money to help with post home improvements and repairs. In addition to helping with the quarterly clean-ups and taking care of the outdoor landscaping and flower bed, Auxiliary members assist with some of the work that needs to be done.
“We recently renovated the entire kitchen, which called for countertops and sinks and sprayers and all of that. Some of the Auxiliary got in there and actually repainted the entire thing. They stepped in and did a lot of the painting and cleaning of the kitchen and stuff like that,” Thompson said. “We appreciate all that the Auxiliary and Sons do to keep our shared post home looking its best.”
How are your post homes maintained? Who handles the outdoor landscaping and beautification there? What happens if an unforeseen repair or replacement is needed and there’s no money in the local Legion’s coffers for it? Share your post home stories with Auxiliary magazine, whether they are tales of triumph because of Legion Family teamwork, or stories of problems regarding post maintenance, repairs, or equipment replacements. Give us the basics by emailing us at ALAMagazine@ALAforVeterans.org.
This article was originally published in the August 2019 Auxiliary magazine.