The Outlook Legion Branch #262 is enjoying some prosperity these days as well as a little bit of financial breathing room, thanks in part to a sizable and handsome bequeathment that should enable the branch to concentrate on more favorable happenings, such as the Veterans Memorial Park.
On Wednesday, March 17, several members of the Outlook Legion were on hand at the Legion Hall to welcome Tom Lukiwski, MP for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan. Lukiwski was on hand to help make the official announcement of $8,287.46 going to the branch in emergency support funding from the federal government.
One of the programs under Ottawa’s jurisdiction, known as Legion Branches Emergency Support Funding, announced near the end of 2020 that up to $14 million would be available to 1,350 Royal Canadian Legion branches in financial need because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As it turned out, Outlook Branch #262 qualified for this funding as its income had ceased but operational expenses continued.
They applied to the Federal Program for financial assistance to meet ongoing expenses such as insurance, utilities, materials and supplies, from March to December of 2020.
Branch #262 President John McPhail expressed appreciation to the federal government when he explained that the money will allow Branch #262 to remain viable.
“Now that we do not have to worry about how we will pay our monthly bills, we can concentrate on our major project in 2021, the creation of the Veterans Memorial Park,” he explained.
“Like many organizations, Legion Branches have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lukiwski. “Unable to hold events or rent their facilities, the organizations have lost almost their entire revenue in 2020. It was my privilege to advocate on behalf of Branch No. 262 and I am pleased and relieved that the funding has come through.”
The over $8,000 in emergency funding allowed the Outlook branch to pay bills in the face of lost revenues due to the pandemic.
“Legions, including those in the Outlook area, provide vital services and support for veterans, seniors and communities, yet their contributions are often overlooked in times of crisis,” said Tom. “I am pleased to see their efforts recognized in this way so that they can continue to deliver services after the pandemic.”
Lukiwski commended the work being done by those within the Outlook Legion’s staff to make this funding announcement possible.
“This announcement is not simply a matter of federal generosity. It is the result of combined efforts of Legion representatives from local branches up to the Dominion Command level working tirelessly with elected representatives to press the federal government to recognize and support the work of Legions.”
Legion President McPhail says Outlook’s branch is lucky to be in the situation that it’s in at the moment, as it could’ve been a dark reality for the group that too many other Legion branches are facing right now.
“Almost a year ago today, I put a sign on the door saying that we were closed,” John said. “Like other Legion branches, we were in a really high state of anxiety about whether, when the dust settled, there would be a Legion branch in Outlook. It’ll be interesting to note how many branches in Canada, out of the 1350, will have closed their doors permanently. We count ourselves very fortunate that we’ve come through a very tough year with no income strain and still having expenses.”
John passed along his gratefulness as well as from those within the Legion branch in making the funding announcement. The money served as something of a sense of comfort that allowed Branch #262 to concentrate on the important daily work of getting their message out and letting people know of other important ventures, such as the Veterans Memorial Park.
“That money was used to offset the cost of insurance, utilities, materials, supplies, printing, and communication from March to December 31 of this year,” John said. “So, when I said our branch is grateful, I meant it. We’ve been very fortunate in receiving support within our community, as well as much encouragement from within the community, but from outside organizations too, of which we’re very grateful.”
Lukiwski spoke of the Outlook branch’s tenacity in seeking funding and the work they did to acquire whatever they could in order to help themselves.
“I’m appreciative of the government for coming up with a program that allowed Legions from coast to coast to access some money,” said Tom. “It’s been a very difficult year for everyone, but particularly, organizations like this that have had to close their doors and cease revenue streams. Many Legions wouldn’t be able to survive without the money received, but I should also point out that money doesn’t miraculously appear on your doorstep. You have to actually do the due diligence, and that’s the only way in which grant money like the $8,287 happens. I represent a very wide and spread constituency, and through the years, I’ve been at many announcements where local municipalities or organizations have received some financial grants or monies from respective governments. I thank these organizations because if you don’t apply, you don’t get, and it’s really that simple.”
Lukiwski says more communities can find themselves the recipient of federal funding if they do their homework, much like Outlook. Legion branches across Canada have seen their membership take a turn downward, but hope remains that they recover in the future.
“Surprisingly enough, there have been many, many organizations and municipalities, village and towns, and even cities, who haven’t taken the time to do the research to find out what money might be available from various levels of government, and they haven’t done an application and haven’t done their homework,” said Tom. “To them, I say they should learn from past mistakes and do what more progressive communities like Outlook have done. They’re always on top of things, they always know what grant money might be available, and that’s what you should do. I certainly and sincerely hope that we see more and more Legions not only survive, but thrive. There’s no sugar-coating the situation, as you know. Membership of Legions from coast to coast has been going steadily down over the last number of years. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. If there are people in this community who could be involved, then Legions like this should survive and should thrive.”