The Solon VFW Post 1863 is feeling the financial strain resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and is reaching out to the community for help. Their services to veterans are that vital, members say.
“We support the veterans in every way,” Commander Jack Calvey said.
They are not at a point of closing their post on Melbury Avenue but want to ensure they can still provide needed services and support to veterans.
“We are hurting because we lost two months of income and our hall rentals were canceled due to social distancing,” explained Mr. Calvey, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Army.
“It’s really put us in a very bad situation,” VFW Member Mike Shymske added.
State officials closed school buildings and businesses in mid-March to stop the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus COVID-19. Large gatherings were banned as well, forcing the cancellation of some events. The state began opening slowly in late May with some restrictions and health recommendations remaining in place.
Despite these cutbacks due to restrictions and guidelines from the state, the post still held a small Memorial Day ceremony and on Sunday marked Flag Day, with the burning of flags to dispose of them with dignity.
The post is self-funded and therefore receives no state or federal funding, Mr. Calvey explained. Its revenue mainly comes from hall rentals, but it also receives member dues and revenue from its canteen, which is now open.
The VFW has an operating budget of about $170,000 annually, and the post is looking to raise about $10,000 through a Go Fund Me page started by some members.
“We still have a mortgage payment and utility bills,” Mr. Calvey said. The building is also in need of repairs, including a new roof.
They applied for the Payroll Protection Program and were able to take care of their bartenders, some utilities and the interest on their mortgage, Mr. Calvey said.
Due to the new state guidelines, they had to pay an outside contractor to install partitions, as well as buy masks.
“We survive through corporate donations, fundraising and personal donations” as well as the hall rentals, bar income and such gatherings as fish fries, Mr. Shymske said.
“Now with social distancing we cannot do any of that,” he said.
They also cannot do their regular hospital visits to veterans due to restrictions.
Their current outreach for help is seeking corporate or personal donations, as well as more members. They currently have about 320 members.