American Legion post struggles to keep lights on
Florence Eastman American Legion Post 280 is in jeopardy of being the next veterans group to go by the wayside due to dwindling membership. In fact, the organization is having difficulty even paying for the post building's utilities.
Located in Mattapoisett but and serving veterans throughout the tri-town, the post had representatives at the Mattapoisett Lions Club's annual Harbor Days celebration seeking donations to pay utility bills.
Post member "George Randall started this donation drive to help the post stay open," explained Barry Denham, adjutant for Post 280 and veterans agent for Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester.
A little over $800 was donated on Friday, July 20, the first full day of Harbor Days on which the vets set up their booth. No figures were available for July 21 or 22.
The men said the post is run by just a handful of veterans, and many of them are aging.
"We don't have as many members as we once had," Ken Fleury said as he manned the donation table July 21, with Denham and fellow member Dan Mazzuca.
"We have about 600 veterans in town, but only 50 have joined," Mazzuca, the post's finance officer, added. Of the 50 veterans on Post 280 rolls, only six are actively involved, he said.
Denham said he's concerned with the lack of particpation and urges younger veterans and their families to become involved for their own benefit.
"I'm just afraid without strong veterans involved we might see some of our benefits going away," Denham said.
The Benjamin Cushing VFW Post 2425 in Marion disbanded in 2016 after a dwindling, aging membership voted to fold the local post. The Florence Eastman American Legion Post 280 is the only veterans post left in the tri-town.
Any veteran seeking information on joining or any business or individual willing to make a financial contribution or sponsorship of Post 280 is asked to call 508-758-9311 or email email@example.com.