GLOVERSVILLE - Now that the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Bernard Kearney Memorial Post 2077 has turned in its charter and locked its doors on Third Avenue, the members of the post's women's auxiliary feel the city will be losing a lot more than many people expected.
For the past several decades, the auxiliary has been an active part of the post and community, hosting benefits and holiday events. Although the post's building could no longer operate due to financial trouble, the women of the auxiliary feel the charter should have remained active.
"It's just really sad because they could have kept the charter open [even] if they didn't have the building," auxiliary Secretary Belle Bruse said. "We could have just held meetings somewhere else in the city, but now all the older veterans will have nowhere to go or something to look forward to."
Members of the VFW Post 2077 Women’s Auxillary are shown Thursday at a meeting to talk about the group’s holiday party and their thoughts on the post closing.
From left are Louise Wilder, Joyce Cross, Michelle Lennon, Belle Bruse and President Laura Lee.
She said because many of the members who regularly used the post as a place to gather and communicate with other veterans are now in their 70s or 80s, many of them won't have the means to reach the Broadalbin post unless they take a taxi, which would become expensive.
"We have always been there and know what this post meant to people," Trustee Louise Wilder said.
The women of the auxiliary also said they felt their voice wasn't even considered when the decision was made to close the post.
"They asked us to come in and express our thoughts about the possibility of the post closing, but after we spoke they told us the decision was already made to close," President Laura Lee said. "My father broke ground for that post, so it really sickens me."
Many of the women said they have been part of the post since they were children and followed their parents' footsteps. The auxiliary will continue to be active in the community until it gets official notification from the national VFW auxiliary, Lee said.
"We are going to hang in there as long as we can," she said.
The women's auxiliary has hosted benefits for fire and cancer victims, hosted holiday parties and dinners, and sent care packages overseas to troops.
Although the post is closed, the auxiliary wanted to continue its tradition of a holiday Christmas party for the children of veterans by hosting it this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the senior citizens center on Church Street.
"This is going to be our last Christmas party for the kids, so we really went all out this year," Lee said. "We had to scramble to find a new location to host it, but the senior citizens center really helped us out."
The Christmas party will feature a "Balloon Extravaganza" to entertain the children, music, crafts, pizza and a visit from Santa Claus, who plans to bring a personal gift from each child's wish list. Washburn's Dairy will donate ice cream for the event.
Lee said this year the auxiliary spent more than $1,000 on the event, and they plan on having about 30 children of veterans in the community attend.
"This means the world to me," Lee said. "To see their happy faces and see them excited when Santa comes in with presents is what really makes this all worth it."
The auxiliary also sponsored a "Patriot's Pen" essay contest, and the women will go to Gloversville High School on Wednesday to award $25 gift cards to the top three essay writers.
"We have never thought about the money or time we have spent to do these things, we just always did it," Bruse said with a smile. "It was just something the veterans of our community needed, and we have always been there to serve them the best we could. The post closing is going to be really detrimental to the community and veterans. I don't think a lot of the community sees that and it's really sad."
Levi Pascher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.