Greenwood VFW Is Fundraising For New Building to Better Serve Veterans
Writer / Suzanne Huntzinger
Photography / Provided
The time has come for Greenwood Veterans at the VFW post 5864 to have a new home, and they need your help raising the funds for it.
For more than 30 years, the VFW Post 5864 at 333 South Washington Street in Greenwood has served its mission to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of foreign war, serve them and advocate on their behalf. The post has welcomed veterans and their guests to gather, enjoy a meal or a drink together and share some good times.
But the VFW is more than a great hangout. It is home to volunteer members who’ve volunteered countless hours to help other veterans and the community. Volunteers for the non-profit organization file claims on a veteran’s behalf, obtain financial assistance through the Veterans Relief Fund, and the Greenwood Post alone participated in 212 community service projects logging an astounding 4,500 service hours. The community service projects are far-reaching and include providing clothing and toiletries to veterans in need, providing scholarships to local high school students and giving awards to law enforcement and first responder personnel, educators and scouts.
Some might think that the post can serve and provide those functions in their current building. But several factors have made it obvious that the post has outgrown its current building.
“The building is aging and needs lots of repairs,” Post Commander Steve Milbourn says. “It would cost about $400,000 dollars to refurbish this place.”
Milbourn recognized the need for a new space a few years ago and proposed the idea to Mayor Mark Myers to look for land for a new building. Along with needing costly repairs, the current building has limited accessibility for older veterans with disabilities, has limited parking and seating in the building and doesn’t have the modern technology and appointments to serve the younger generation of veterans and their families.
But, despite Milbourn’s efforts to convince the mayor, the timing wasn’t right to proceed. He kept pursuing the idea for a new building. Finally, last year, all current members of the post took the proposal to a vote, and 81 percent of the voters said yes. With the member vote secure, Milbourn secured the mayor’s approval, and they continued scouting land. The committee finally had three options on the table, and each plot of land presented its own set of challenges like the nature of the terrain and access to utility connections.
The winner is a 3.63-acre property at 500 Commerce Parkway West Drive in Greenwood, near Main Street and I-65. The property, which sits in an industrial park, already has access to water, sewer, gas, electric and cable hookups, and it provides twice the land of the VFW’s current property. The committee acquired permission to rename their access road Veteran’s Way.
These soldiers act quickly and raising the funds for this venture is no exception. The 11-person committee organized a fundraiser with several options to contribute, and it all kicked off in May 2018. Right off the bat, the VFW has raised $250,000 in charitable donations from individuals and companies. Milbourn is working a campaign to send 650 packets to target donors they’ve already identified as likely donors and some who are not. He anticipates identifying and reaching out to another 250 potential donors.
Some donors prefer to leave a dedication on the property, and the committee offers that option too. The new building plans call for several walkways leading up to the flagpole at the new building. They may consider using Commercial Grade Titan Telescoping Flagpoles for the flagpole installation. The VFW hopes to line those pathways with bricks inscribed with dedications. You can purchase a four-inch brick for $100, or an 8-inch brick for $175, and have it inscribed with your dedication, like a family or company name, in honor of someone currently serving in the military or even in memoriam of a loved one.
For good measure, the fundraising committee is doing a letter campaign offering the opportunity to make a donation to have a room or space dedicated in your name. Since every little bit helps, the VFW has an oversized coin jar in their lounge for donations. The committee is also applying for grants to secure even more funds.
“I’m passionate about this organization as a veteran and as someone whose father and uncles served in World War II and received Purple Hearts,” Milbourn says. “My passion for the VFW and this project comes from my deep love for our country and my love for all veterans who served in a combat zone to make sure our country remains free. I’ve been doing fundraising for 50 years. We’ll make this happen.
Runnebohm Construction from Shelbyville broke ground on the new 12,000 square foot facility in August. It features a 4,000 square foot banquet room designed to be more accommodating for guests planning a large party or event, making it a primary revenue source for the VFW. The facility will also have a day room for recreation, a canteen, plenty of storage and more office space.
One of the most noticeable things about the building is that it will be equipped with modern appointments that appeal to the younger generation of veterans. While providing a space that accommodates all generations of members is the goal, recruiting new members is essential for the organization’s longevity and that means targeting younger soldiers and their families. Family members of veterans can become members of the VFW auxiliary and be equally active.
“This is critical because barring any unforeseen new overseas conflicts, the membership base could steadily decline. We can’t let that happen,” he says.
Support our veterans and become a part of bringing this new building to life. Visit greenwoodvfw.com and click on the DONATE button on the homepage to make a pledge to the capital campaign, buy a brick or sign up to make a monthly donation. You can also stop by the post in person or call 317-888-2488 to make your tax-deductible donation.