The Ponoka Legion not only celebrated a year of many accomplishments but also saw a new executive last week.
Barb Olsen will take on the position of past-president while Sid Gregr steps into the president role. The official passing of the torch and installation of the new officers was held Jan. 22 at the Legion.
In the last two years as president, Olsen is proud that the Legion continues to be busy in Ponoka. “In 2018 we had the provincial dart tournament here, which was a really big function for us,” said Olsen.
“We’ve got the best dart venue in central Alberta,” said Olsen. There are 22 dart boards available for use.
Along with seeing new membership at the Legion, there is also strong community involvement. Olsen pointed out that new staff have come on board and the Friday night suppers are drawing large crowds.
What Olsen enjoys about seeing such large turnout at the suppers is the Legion can in turn donate additional funds to community endeavours. This time around the Legion donated $5,000 to Legacy Place in Red Deer, which aims to help veterans in need.
“That’s a housing place for veterans and their families. For RCMP members and their families and for firefighters and their families,” explained Olsen, adding that there is also a Legacy Place in Edmonton and Calgary.
With Gregr stepping into the president’s chair, his hope is to advocate for the Ponoka Legion and to remind community members that membership is an easy process and the building is intended to be open for events. There is still a need to have a first vice-president who can work with Gregr and then step up to the role. The president’s term is typically one year with the possibility of extending for a second year.
Gregr suggests with more people becoming aware of the Legion’s programs there is an opportunity for younger people to continue the advocacy of veterans.
In-house caterer, Bob Hepp and Company Catering, also hosts a special once-a-month lunch for patients from the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury. Patients come down to the Legion to take part in the lunch and have some fun singing with the Karaoke machine and visiting with each other.
The building has just started opening up the building for lunches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s a trial program to see if there is interest.
“I have seen some members come for lunch that we haven’t seen come to the Legion for quite a while,” said Olsen of the new endeavour. “I’m thinking that having more daytime opportunities for some of those members might draw them in a little bit more.”
The bar has also seen an update.
Part of what makes the Legion so active is that the membership has a vested interest in seeing the organization succeed, plus, the building is large and can accommodate quite a few different events. A good draw for the Legion also happens to be its location right in the middle of Ponoka Stampede.
Big areas of focus for the Legion is working with the Ladies Auxiliary and being a sponsor of the Ponoka Air Cadets.
Olsen added that the Ladies Auxiliary is a major supporter of the Legion and its programs. Marlene Ferguson is the Ladies Auxiliary president.