AP NEWS

Post 429 Holds Event to Combat Financial Hardships

August 6, 2018

By Scott Shurtleff

sshurtleff@nashobavalleyvoice.com

FITCHBURG -- It is the most fundamental military tenet that troops never abandon a wounded soldier on the battlefield. And local veterans applied that principle when American Legion Post 429 laid bleeding in the war of economics.

Called to arms by a Facebook posting and a human network of pleas and pleases, more than 50 veterans and community members arrived with life-supporting cash. The quickly arranged fundraising event in the club’s upstairs banquet room Saturday night raised over a $1,000 for the post, which had been beaten down by a series of bad breaks.

Entertained by comedians Bob Sheehy and Jerry Caruso, the small but loyal crowd brought much-needed, immediate revenue to help post commander Jack Walker meet some mounting operations’ expenses.

“This is the first time we have ever needed to do this,” he said of the event.

The 10,000 square foot building turned 70 this year, too young to die.

“This is the last private club for veterans in this city,” said Jeff Leger, second generation and 35-year member. “The AMVETS closed down and so did the VFW.”

But Leger and Walker both fear that the money from the event, which they are grateful for, is only a temporary fix. Several weeks ago, the Fitchburg Board of Health shut down the club’s outdated kitchen until upgrades are made, which the club cannot afford to do.

“Without the kitchen,” Leger said, “we can’t have functions here in the hall. There was not a lot money coming in from those events, but they helped keep the lights on.”

Another blow came a few years ago when the post’s lottery license was revoked.

“That was a big revenue drain for us,” Leger said. “That leaves only membership dues and beverage sales as income for us.”

He and Walker lament that summertime is historically very slow anyway, and this year that may prove fatal.

Tucked away in the residential area on Daniels Street, Post 429 clings to life but its 200 members fight on. The patrons on hand took a break from the pessimism to yuck it up and enjoy the familiar company. Some packages were donated as raffles and a cash jar overflowed with generosity.

“I needed a laugh,” said Joanne Loring of Leominster. “So I came here to support the veterans and the post.”

But behind the camouflage of hope and happiness lies a measurable unit of unrest.

“Unless something major happens, I fear for the place,” Leger said. “One of us needs to win the lottery so we can donate $50,000 or so to the club.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly