Maintaining growth in membership is one of the keys for the new president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 66 in Ponoka.
Officially installed on Jan. 11, president Barb Olsen took over the leadership of the local Legion branch from Sybil Evans after having served as First Vice-president and chair of the membership committee.
Olsen, who has been a Royal Canadian Legion member for 44 years, became a more active member — including joining the branch executive — following her retirement from working in public health for Alberta Health Services.
“I wanted to help support the Legion and made a commitment to take a leadership role as I had more time once I retired,” Olsen stated.
As president now, Olsen is focusing on continuing what she helped start a couple of years ago when she joined the executive as part of the membership committee.
“I want to focus on the branch supporting all of our veterans, the families, the community and our country and make Branch 66 for the members,” she said.
“I also want to strive to maintain the branch and make it a welcoming place for all the members.”
To do that, Olsen noted there are some key things that need to occur.
First is to continue the growth in membership — both in the number of younger military veterans and bringing in interested community members — and secondly helping to get the membership more active and involved in Legion activities and fundraising. And the third key is to keep up with the good volunteer and community support work that the Legion does so well.
“We need to do the fundraising so that we can support the needs of the Legion, so we can be there for the members and the community when they need us,” she said.
“And it’s great to see more younger veterans joining the Legion and participating, but we’d like to see more members — both vets and those from the community since anyone can now join — come out and be active and get involved. Getting members from the community, that’s one key to the Legion continuing to thrive and survive. I really believe that without that, there will be no Legion.”
Olsen added that involvement, whether as part of the executive or on the Ladies Auxiliary or volunteering at functions, is just as important in keeping the Legion viable.
“That’s how we can operate the Poppy Fund drive and other fundraisers, so having members involved is really important,” she said.
“We struggle to do our best and have managed to keep things going strong with the help of the members, the great work of another key component — the Ladies Auxiliary — and the volunteer support we receive from the cadet program in Ponoka.”
For information about becoming a Legion member, call the Ponoka branch at (403) 783-4076 or head to www.legion.ca to learn more about what the Royal Canadian Legion is all about.