POST 148 ONGOING PROGRAMS
POST 148 PROGRAMS: The Field-Allen Post, Windham, is a very active Post in the Windham community providing a wide range of programs for our veterans, our youth and for the community and in the community. The Post over the past 25 years has gone from just hosting the Memorial Day events in the community to expansions of youth and community help programs. Following is a short summary of some of these programs in support of the Legion four pillars:
Annual Food Drive: Normally held in front of Wal mart, North Windham on Memorial Day Weekend. Cancelled this cycle, however food collected at the WVC was donated to the Town Food Pantry, 12 boxes total. In addition to the food donations, over $1500.00 was collected to support the food program.
Bean Suppers: The Post host 4-5 Bean suppers each year as additional fundraisers to support other Post programs including, Legion Baseball and our Little League Program as well as Dirigo State, Scholarships, and other youth program. With COVID-19 protocols in place the Post went to a curbside food distribution of it Bean Suppers. They were held in July through November with mixed results, the July dinner was held in honor of one of our recently departed Past Commanders, Don, Rogers and was a great success for the scholarship program. Likewise, a Dinner in August was held to support a local charity “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” fuel heating program, which was unable to hold its traditional events.
Boys State: American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students. It is a participatory program where each participant becomes a part of the operation of his local, county and state government.
Boys State, it has been a program of The American Legion since 1935 when it organized to counter the Fascist inspired Young Pioneer Camps. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
The American Legion Auxiliary also sponsors a similar program for young ladies called Girls State.
Dirigo State: At American Legion Department of Maine, In 2022 merged these two programs to form the newly minted “Dirigo” State ( a First in the Nation co-ed program). Participants are exposed to the rights and privileges, the duties and the responsibilities of a franchised citizen. The training is objective and practical with city, county and state governments operated by the students elected to the various offices. Activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, chorus and recreational programs.
High school juniors are selected by local American Legion Posts to attend the program. In most cases, expenses associated with attending this program are paid by a sponsoring American Legion Post, a local business or another community-based organization. The Post 148 Legion Family (Post and Auxiliary) in Windham sponsored five Junior in 2022 for Dirigo State and will continue to provide funding scholarships for Juniors to attend this highly visible program.
Each year, two boys and two girls who attend Dirigo State will be selected to attend the National level Boys and Girls State in Washington DC Called Boys Nation and Girls Nation.
Information on Dirigo Sate can be found on the Legion Dept of Mine Website and by contacting your High School Guidance Counselor.
Dirigo State is held at a Maine College during the second week of June.
Flag Day Ceremony: Every June 14th for the last four years the Legion Post in collaboration with Boy Scout Troop 805, Windham holds a Flag retirement ceremony to appropriately retire flags collected form the Town’s Cemeteries. Ceremony is held a sunset at the WVC with appropriate Ceremonial Honors.
Girls State: The American Legion Auxiliary also sponsors a similar program to Boys State for young ladies called Girls State.
Honor Guard/Color Guard: now in its fifth year, the Post HG has become the “go to” unit for many of the local Post. The HG has provided support not only for our local Veteran’s Community and their family as well as supporting request for Westbrook, Standish, Naples, and Gorham veterans. The HG has traveled from Augusta to Buxton, to South Portland for internments and funeral ceremonies. The Post has 12 members in the HG that are completely outfitted with appropriate uniforms and regularly drill with the M1 Garande Ceremonial Rifles. Their support also extends to Color Guard and memorial Ceremonies both at the Post and Community at large levels. This year a Digital Bugle was added to the mix.
Jr Cadet Corps, Windham High School: Working with Post member and 1st Sgt, Dan Wirtz, (WHS) the Post coordinates many its program activities to elicit support from the Cadet Corps. These include: Placement of flags and wreaths on graves of our veterans at Smith Cemetery; assistance with the annual Town food drive, and participation in Memorial Day events. These last two items were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic concerns, The Post has provided the Cadet Corp with a 1952 M-37 Dodge Utility Truck. The Cadet Corps also works with our Honor Guard and does the fieldstripping and cleaning of the ceremonial rifles for the HG.
Little League Baseball: Due to covid concerns, the Town Recreation Department cancelled the Windham Little league program for 2020. Post 148 normally sponsors one of the youth teams.
RED CROSS Blood Drives: The Post host at least four (quarterly) RED CROSS Community blood drives at the WVC, normally on the 3rd Wednesdays of the target month from noon to 6 pm. The Post members the staffing in support of the RED CROSS Personnel. This year with the Covid protocols in place and a greater need then ever for blood, the Post has doubled it commitment hosting two events a quarter, Post staffing provided temperature checks at the door, registration of donors, set-up and break-down of chairs, tables, etc. and provides the much need canteen and sanitization. On average, 31 units have been collected per event for a total this year of over 240 units.
St. Patrick’s Day Dinner: The annual dinner since 2010 was the most dramatic impact of the pandemic to the Post to date. Two days before the event, the Town manager advised the Post that due to a series of Positive test for COVID-19 in the town of Windham, it would be prudent NOT to hold the dinner. This was a shock to membership, but they were able to make some good form the cancellation by breaking up the
food into smaller units and donating it to local a local church and the town of Windham food Pantry, in all, over a dozen local families were presented with a free Saint Patrick’s Day dinner. For the 2021 event, the Post conducted a Curbside event raising over $600.00 for the Post youth Programs.
School Award and Scholarship: became one positive event this year with two recognitions of Windham High School graduates with a “leadership” award and scholarship. The awards were presented under unique covid conditions with no audience in attendance. a longstanding program dating back over 50 years, the Post, annually, provides recognition of one graduating male and female with the Legion School (leadership) Award. This year’s Recipients were: Owen Flibbert and Gracey Soares each receiving $450.00
Veteran’s Coffee: One of the most heralded programs that the Post supports is the weekly Veteran’s Coffee held continuously on Wednesdays since March 23rd, 2016 at the WVC . With a modest start of six vets, the program now hosts 2-3 dozen vets for coffee, donuts and comradery. Every week the Vets come for a few minutes or the entire two hours. Started by the PSO, the Coffee creats a welcoming atmosphere that has garnished over 60 new members over the last four years. This event stopped abruptly in March of 2020 due to covid concerns. That was not the end of the story. Approx. 6-8 of our diehard coffee goers would come to the Vet Center each Wednesday and sit around the parking lot with social distancing and drink coffee and chat. Once safe practices were established by the Maine CDC to reopen certain venues, The WVC was reopened in July to the Vet Coffees under Covid protocols. Some members continued meet outside, while other returned to the comfort of the building.
Youth Air Rifle Program (YARP): This program is just beginning in 2023, after training several Post 148 members on the program. This will be announced sometime in 2023.
Birthday Wishes: As an adjunct to the “Buddy Program” the 2nd Vice has established a program of sending out Birthday Wishes by card to Post members on their Birthday.
Bows: Each year post members make red white and blue bows.
Cemetery Flags: In support of Maine Directives, the Town of Windham provides sufficient flags to be placed on the graves of each of our Veterans. Back in 2005, the Town purchased approx. 500 flags. This year, the town purchased, and the Legion coordinated the placement of 950 flags on the 30 cemeteries of the Town. Teams of veterans spread out across the Town during the week prior to Memorial Day and place flags on each vet grave. The Post also orders the Bronze “US Veteran” flag holders for the Town and installs them as needed so that every Vet has a flag holder.
Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program: Starting in 2013, a local florist started a project to place a wreath on the grave of each vet in the cemeteries of Windham. The Post initially provided the manpower to place the wreaths and has over the last three years taken over the program with funding and coordination. This last year on Dec 7th, under very cold conditions, the Post coordinated the placement of over 950 wreaths on vet graves. The bows for the wreaths were also made by the Legion family and attached prior to placement. This was another program that received drastic modification with good results. Instead of making up over
950 wreaths, 31 large wreaths were produced by the Legon Family and installed at each of the Cemeteries in Windham at a prominent location by the Post Honor Guard.
Flags: The Post is also the collection point each Wednesday and repository for community flags that have reached the end of their useful life. Collected flags are burned at appropriate times during the year including Flag Day. Annually, the Post collects and retires over 3000 flags.
Flags Around Town: Since 2005 the Post has collaborated with the Town of Windham to place 100 American Flags on the utility poles on the highways and byways of Windham. The Town purchase the flags on a three-year cycle and the Post provides the hardware and manpower to put up the flags, The Flags are up in time for Memorial Day and continue to grace the Town roads until Labor Day.
May Fishing Event: for the last three years the Post has collaborated with the Sebago Lake Anglers Association (SLAA) to host a mid-May fishing event for local veterans. The SLAA coordinates, boats, bat captains and guides, equipment and luncheon. This event was cancelled for May 2020 and is on schedule for May 2021.
Poppy Program: In coordination with the Legion Family, the Post supports and annual Poppy Program to distribute approx. 6-gross of Poppy flowers to the community. The resulting proceeds collected are earmarked exclusively for support of veterans, their families, Active duty personnel and their families. With the pandemic uncertainty continuing, no collections were made this year. However, Existing funds were used to help needy families over the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays with six food baskets of ham or turkey distributed.
Post Everlasting: When the District was unable to host a Post everlasting ceremonial event in May, the Post established a new protocol to hold a Post level Post Everlasting Ceremony in June this year and henceforth at the June meeting of the Post.
Post Newsletter: Since 2005, the Post has been providing communication to its membership via a Post Newsletter. Starting small, the newsletter is now some 8-12 pages and is distributed digitally to most Post members monthly and to those not on email by regular mail. For the last 8 years the Field-Allen Post newsletter has been Awarded 1st place in Department of Maine competition.
Veterans on The Ice Program: For the third winter, another collaboration with the SLAA (above) is the outfitting and placement of a 10 x 8 Ice shed on Long Lake, Naples. This is the second year of the program run from mid-Jan. to March depending on ice conditions. Response this year was low due to adverse weather conditions. The shed is heated this year with a newly acquired 10,000 btu propane heater. Features include an 8 ft ramp, wide doors able to support a wheelchair, two fishing stations in the shed and room to warm others. This event continued in 2021.