After more than 90 years of serving the Royal Canadian Legion in Port Alberni, the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Branch 293 is in danger of folding.
The legion branch announced last month that the Ladies’ Auxiliary will be handing in their charter at the end of 2022.
“After a number of failed attempts to get someone who is prepared to take on the task as president, it would seem that this great organization is about to fold,” said Graham Fox, first vice president of the Royal Canadian Legion Legion Branch 293. “I fully understand the position of the existing Ladies’ Auxiliary executive, who for the most part are very senior, getting tired and have supported the Ladies’ Auxiliary over many years. On behalf of Branch 293, I would like to thank them for their unselfish, dedicated service.”
Fox explained that losing the auxiliary will have a “major” impact on the branch. Over the years, the auxiliary has helped out the legion with catering and fundraising.
The Ladies’ Auxiliary is a non-profit organization that operates separately from the Royal Canadian Legion. It originated during the First World War, when women were asked to help wounded veterans returning home and to provide supports for their families. Today, members of the auxiliary support the aims and objects of the Royal Canadian Legion, providing financial and volunteer supports. Any woman who is eligible for membership in the legion may choose to become a member of the auxiliary only, or a member of both organizations.
Current auxiliary president Connie Richardson, who is also the second vice president for the legion branch, is hopeful that the auxiliary can still be saved.
“I’ve been president for the past four years, and I feel that somebody else should be taking on the job now,” she said. “You need new ideas. I’m not that young anymore and it takes a toll on me—I’ve got to ease up on my workload.”
The majority of the auxiliary members, said Richardson, are older than 70 years old and only “half a dozen” members are left who can volunteer for events like Bingo nights and memorial teas. In addition to catering and fundraising for the legion, the auxiliary also provides community donations to organizations like Meals on Wheels and the Salvation Army and sponsors a bursary for local high school graduates.
In the past, the auxiliary has also hosted a bazaar and bake sale at the legion branch. That didn’t happen this year, due to a lack of volunteers.
“There’s so much that goes on,” said Richardson. “If you don’t get enough volunteers to do it, it’s left to a few people.”
The Ladies’ Auxiliary isn’t the only volunteer organization in Port Alberni that has struggled with finding volunteers. The local chapter of the Elks Club and the Kiwanis Club have both had to fold due to a decline in membership. Other ladies’ auxiliaries on Vancouver Island have also had to close down, said Richardson.
“These organizations I can remember when I was a child were involved in this community,” said Richardson. “We’re going to lose some of these traditions if people don’t step up. We’re hopeful we can pass the torch on.”
The auxiliary and the legion are putting out one final plea for volunteers who are interested in keeping the auxiliary alive. If you are interested, contact Graham Fox at 250-735-7826.
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