The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #81 in Moosomin is thanking the community for its support through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
While some Legion branches across Saskatchewan have had to close their doors and limit services, the Moosomin Legion has been able to keep its doors open thanks to financial support from the community through donations.
Secretary-Treasurer with the Moosomin Royal Canadian Legion Branch #81 Donna Lafleur says that without support from the community, the Legion would not be able to keep its doors open.
“Moosomin has been very supportive of the Legion. Not just Moosomin but the surrounding areas have also really helped us out a lot,” said Lafleur.
“I think one of the reasons we are able to keep our doors open is the fact that Moosomin is a giving community as far as volunteers. If it wasn’t for our volunteers, we wouldn’t be open.”
While a majority of the donations made by local businesses and members of the community have gone towards day-to-day costs, Lafleur says the Legion was able to put some funds towards renovations.
She says that because of Covid-19 restrictions, the Legion has been unable to offer all of its services that normally would provide income.
“Some of the donations have gone to brand new flooring in the club room. We’ve updated our mens and ladies bathrooms in the front. We’re going to put in new countertops and refinish our cupboards in the hall kitchen. A lot of the money has just gone to the day-to-day expenses with hardly any income. Without the rental of the hall and no bingo, we’ve had a huge decrease in income over the last year due to Covid. We can rent the hall, but only for 30 people, so the hall hasn’t been rented.
“The only constant we had was our Service Canada office, which has closed down too. So we really have no income other than our wing nights on Thursday nights.”
Lafleur says the Moosomin Legion has been able to hold a handful of fundraisers through the pandemic which has helped supplement lost income.
Coming up this week on Saturday, May 15, the Moosomin Legion will be holding a beef on a bun night which includes a meat draw.
“It’s just another way to raise money. We used to do meat draws years ago, so we thought we could try meat draws for a fundraiser. We did one on the 10th of April, and it wasn’t too bad of a turnout. There were around 30 people.
“We’ve had meat draws, our first one had meat donated by the Cratehouse, and for this one coming up the meat is being donated by Fletchers Meats. That way they’re helping us in trying to raise money by giving us meat packages to do the draws with. It’s not really costing us anything to do the meat draws, and then we can also raise money hopefully with the sale of the liquor and the beef on a bun plate,” Lafleur explained.
The Moosomin Legion has also been able to bring in income through its wing nights, which Lafleur notes have seen a decrease in sales.
“A lot of people have not been socializing because we’re all supposed to be at home, so they’re not going out to eat. So not only is our capacity impacted, but people aren’t eating out the way they used to. Our takeout has been phenomenal on the nights that we do wing night, the community has supported us greatly in takeout.
“We’re still down around 20 per cent in sales to what we were, but we have probably an 80 per cent increase in takeout than what we did have. We’re still pretty much the same, it’s just our business has gone to takeout instead of eating in.”
While Lafleur thanks the community for its support through wing nights and donations, she says the biggest forms of income for the Moosomin Legion have been shut down due to Covid-19.
“I don’t know how long we can effectively keep going. A major part of our income is our hall rentals. We have had zero hall rentals in the last 12 months. That’s a huge loss, we’re down 100 per cent because we’ve had zero rentals. That’s really hurting us. We have no funeral lunches, we have no teas, no bake sales, and no craft sales,” Lafleur explained.
“We’ve had zero income. I don’t know how long we can sustain ourselves without hall rentals and without bingo income. We’ve had zero bingo income for about a year. We’ve had no catering income either. That’s three major parts of our business that we no longer have. But we are quite fortunate that we are able to sustain ourselves just with the wing night and on the fact that we run strictly on volunteers. If it wasn’t for the kindness of our volunteers, we wouldn’t be operating.”
Lafleur notes a silver lining in everything, however. Because the doors to the Legion have been closed, the Moosomin Legion has been able to complete several renovations through various grants without having to inconvenience patrons.
Lafleur says the Moosomin Legion has plans to replace the roof of the building as well, noting the project will cost around $30,000.
“We did a complete exterior renovation. Anybody can see the outside has been totally updated. Some of the donations we have received over the last year have gone towards our front seating area. That was one update that we did. One grant was used for the total exterior renovation. We built walls that were insulated, which will make a huge difference on our utility bills too.
“We need the roof done. We haven’t got any grants and may have to do fundraisers because we need a new roof, but we haven’t got any grants for it yet. We applied for a couple and got denied one for sure. We’re still waiting on two more to see if we get it, but as of right now there are no grants that we have got for it. If we don’t get a grant, that will be our next big fundraiser, to put a roof on the building because it’s approximately $30,000.”
In addition to the front seating area and the exterior renovations, Lafleur says the Moosomin Legion is working on making the building more wheelchair accessible through the Enabling Accessibility Fund.
“We do have another grant and we are making our building and our hall wheelchair accessible. We have a wheelchair accessible bathroom, we’re putting in two huge wheelchair-accessible doors, we’re extending our exterior ramps, we’re putting in a ramp at the back, we’re putting in handicap parking, and we’re also turning our kitchen wheelchair accessible so people in wheelchairs can come in and use the prep area. There will also be a wash station for them in the kitchen.”
Through donations from members of the community and local businesses, Lafleur says the Moosomin Legion has been able to continue operations, even at a restricted capacity.
She says that even with a tighter budget, the Legion continues to try and give back to the community.
“The community has really stepped up through Covid. Our donations are substantially increased because of Covid, and people realize that we can’t fundraise and so the donations are coming in bigger amounts because of Covid. The community has really supported us. We have donated money back into the community from what we’ve got, but we haven’t been able to donate back into the community what we have in other years because some of the money we’re getting we need so we can keep operating,” Lafleur said.
The Legion will also be holding a free barbecue on July 6 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the remembrance poppy.
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator