By Mary O’KEEFE
he American Legion Post 288 is in the midst of a facelift – a much needed facelift.
For years the building has been struggling with plumbing issues, outdated appliances and carpet that defied cleaning, but all of that is changing thanks to Home Depot.
“Home Depot has a core value of giving back,” said Chuck Messig, community captain for District 26 at Home Depot.
In 2011, Home Depot committed $80 million specifically for veterans organizations. The grant values vary.
“The [average] value of a grant is $15,000. In this case, [Post 288] got so lucky. We were granted $20,000 in a materials grant, ” Messig said.
The grant provided materials like kitchen and bathroom appliances and carpeting. The labor for all of this comes from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1614 that share the building, community members and volunteers from Home Depot.
“Our volunteers do everything but kitchen cabinets and counter tops and doors. For those, we partner with our service providers,” Messig said.
Those partners are paid for by the grant.
The idea for this project came from Susanne Dunwell, former senior field representative for Assemblymember Mike Gatto.
Dunwell, who recently retired, returned to the American Legion on Friday to kick off the remodeling project at the American Legion.
“I had worked with [American Legion] veterans when we did the Two Strike Park memorial,” she said.
Although there was a memorial wall at Two Strike Park, over the years it had become tattered and there was a very limited amount of space for names of those who had served. Members of the American Legion and VFW, along with community members and organizations, raised funds to replace the memorial with one that could contain names of all Crescenta Valley military personnel that had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. During this time, Home Depot had been contacted by Gatto’s office and a grant of $5,000 was donated to the project.
“I saw how focused the veterans were on the memorial and how much time they [donated] to the [project], ignoring there own [Post] needs, ” Dunwell said.
She approached Shari Caraway, program manager of the Home Depot foundation western division.
“Shari was the hero in this,” Dunwell said. “I talked to the veterans, asked them to put a list together of everything they needed and I submitted it to Home Depot.”
Shari approved the grant.
Dunwell said this goes beyond just a gift for the veterans; it is a gift for the community.
“If you think about it, this is more than just about the veterans. They have families, they live in our community,” he said.
After the remodel, the American Legion lodge will be a place that local individuals, veterans and non-veterans, as well as organizations, can rent. It is a win-win for the community and the veterans, Messig said.
The veterans and members of the community came out in force to help with the remodel. Messig was impressed with the community support.
“We are so proud to be part of a community that shares our core values,” he added.