Writer: Angela Boggs
When you’re already the largest VFW post in Kentucky, at more than 900 members strong, what do you do next? If you’re Post 1170 in Middletown, you keep doing more.
“We have a lot of people who want to do a lot of good,” says Post Commander Calvin Shaak of the volunteer group. Shaak also serves as District Commander.
That’s in keeping with the VFW’s goal — the national group was established in 1899 to assist veterans and continues to provide camaraderie, serve veterans, military and the community and to advocate for all veterans.
The post, founded at its current location on Evergreen Road in 1970, already hosts dinners, cookouts and dances for members and the community, for New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl, July 4, even a 50s Day party, but it’s not just a social club. There are on-going events for member involvement like poker, karaoke and cornhole games, and also a Halloween party with Trick or Treat for Middletown and Hite Elementary students. There was also a kids Christmas party, and the post adopted three veterans to make sure they had holiday gifts as well.
“We have a dedicated base, involved in legislation, giving a voice for veterans in Washington, and we try to interact with the community as much as possible and try to be involved,” says Shaak, citing recent blood drives and hosting mammogram event as examples. “We also built a ramp and deck for a handicapped veteran. It’s our goal to help.”
“We’re constantly reaching out to the community, the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations,” says Auxiliary President Debbie Judd of the 372 member auxiliary. “It takes a team.”
A recent event with the Middletown Chamber included guest speaker Heather French Henry, Deputy Commissioner for Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We visit the VA hospital every month, take food, whatever is needed, like clothing or snacks,” Judd says.
The group provides snacks via a refreshment cart with crackers, chips, and fruit. “We receive donations, like crocheted handmade lap blankets for local veterans in nursing homes,” Judd says.
“We offer the best advice to get help,” Shaak adds. “Our service officer is also a state service officer and helps veterans get medical services.”
Veterans do not need to be members to get assistance.
The post also hosts training meetings for hospice, volunteer training and monthly meetings and a September 11 Remembrance. The group made care packages with snacks for deployed troops and does outreach for the VFW National Home in Eaton Rapids, MI. The National Home assists children of veterans and single parent veteran families in crisis.
“That’s what we’re all about, giving back to veterans,” Judd says.
The Post’s honor guard performs the 21 gun salute at Cave Hill Cemetery and Zachary Taylor National Cemetery every Memorial Day and for funerals in Louisville and Fort Knox. The guard also leads the Louisville Veterans Day parade each year and performs the salute at the end of the parade. The honor guard also welcomes veterans returning from Honor Flights. Honor Flights is a nonprofit, all-volunteer group that helps send veterans to Washington DC to visit memorials.
The post is also active in local elementary, middle and high schools, helping with awards and scholarships in patriotism and Americanism and teaching flag etiquette. Award winners represent the post at district, state and national level. The post recently donated $1,000 for history books for the school library at Hite Elementary.
Post 1170 is also a great place for food — a dinner is held every week — “Tasty Tuesday” is open to the public for just $7. Fish Fries are currently held every first and third Friday and every Friday during Lent.
The Auxiliary also hosts an annual spaghetti dinner and silent auction to raise money for veteran’s organizations. Last year proceeds went to Lady Veterans Connect, a group working to build a home for homeless women veterans in Lexington.
Post 1170 also hosts the annual Family Freedom Fest. Community groups are invited to set up booths, the Middletown Fire Department also attends and there are kid’s activities and games.
There’s also Mammogram Day every October, when BrownCancer Center sets up a mobile unit, free of charge, whether patients have insurance or not.
“We partner with them, they’re top-notch,” says Judd of Brown Center. “Our calendar is full of activities and events. We do a lot of good work.”
“We’re always looking for help too, to help with maintenance on building, we raise a lot of funds but give a lot away,” Shaak adds. “We’re always looking for volunteers and for financial help. That’s why we’re so strong, we’re here to help each other and the community.”
The VFW Post 1170 is located at 107 N Evergreen Rd in Louisville. For more information, give them a call at 502-245-8773 for more information.