by Phil Ambroziak
Nothing lasts forever.
The Royal Canadian Legion in Meadow Lake can certainly attest to that following the recent disbandment of its Ladies Auxiliary, a group that’s been providing its support to the local branch for the past 83 years.
“It’s quite an emotional time for me,” remarked long-time Meadow Lake resident Isabel Herrod.
She joined the Branch 76 Ladies Auxiliary more than 60 years ago and said the countless meetings and events she’s been involved in throughout that time have always been both memorable and fun.
“Back when I started, it was an outing for us,” Herrod said. “It provided us with an hour away with friends where we could talk and socialize. Attendance at our meetings used to be quite high. At one time we’d see at least 35 members come out. People were very interested and quite dedicated back then.”
In the end, however, membership dwindled to only six women. They included Herrod, Gladys Maloney, Mary Karpenko, Josephine King, Stella Peterson and auxiliary president Paulette Bement. All six were at the Legion Dec. 8 for a farewell dinner acknowledging the contributions.
“It all comes down to a lack of members and the ages of the six of us who remain,” Bement explained. “Most of us are at the point where they can’t do much (in terms of fundraising and volunteering) anymore.”
As for why the auxiliary hasn’t been able to attract new ladies to fill these gaps, Bement said it’s not as easy as it sounds considering the way the world’s changed since years gone by.
“It’s the same thing with so many volunteer organizations,” she noted. “These days, both parents are required to work in order to manage a household income. People are just finding themselves being too busy. The Ladies Auxiliary used to have its own provincial command, but that folded about 15 years ago. At the same time, a lot of the smaller auxiliaries folded too because they felt they couldn’t go on without provincial guidance. We held out for as long as we could, but the time has now come.”
Herrod agrees people have too many other activities to choose from.
The role of the Ladies Auxiliary was to assist the Legion with its fundraising efforts. Some ways in which the group would help included a catering service, curling bonspiels, dinners and the annual Poppy Day Tea leading up to Remembrance Day. Last month’s tea marked the last one the group will ever host.
“We decided to give this year’s Poppy Day Tea a go, and I’m glad we did,” Bement said.
Bement also said funds raised by the group always went to help veterans, as well as toward the building and furnishing of Legion halls.