Osoyoos legion continues push to attract new members of all ages from community
Like almost every Royal Canadian Legion branch in Canada, membership numbers continue to dwindle at the Osoyoos legion.
But Osoyoos Branch 173 president Bruce Davies, first vice-president Brian Lobb and past president Terry Cameron are hoping to change that by launching a public appeal to attract new members.
The current membership at the Osoyoos legion stands at 583, which is down substantially from the all-time high of almost 800 members in the early 1990s.
The Osoyoos legion first opened back in 1946 and has spent its entire 70-year history at its only location on 78 Street.
“We want to send the message that we welcome virtually everyone and there are very few applicants we won’t accept,” said Davies, who has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for the past 37 years. “All you have to do is apply for membership and you will be accepted.
“We’re an organization that does a lot of work in the community and helps a lot of people, but we can help more people and raise more money if we have more members so that’s what this public appeal is all about.”
There was a time 30 and 40 years ago that all legion branches were filled with war veterans and their families, but those days have changed significantly, said Lobb, who has been a legion member for 22 years.
“We’ve obviously lost a lot of members who fought in the Second World War over the last many years and legions across the country have had to try and keep membership up by inviting members of the public to join us,” said Lobb. “Many people have the misconception that you have to have military ties or be sponsored by a current member, but that’s not the case.
“We basically want people who might never have been to the legion to come on down and find out what we’re all about. It’s a very friendly and inviting place and we think once they pay a visit, they will want to come back.”
There isn’t a lot of things going on in town during the winter months, but the Osoyoos legion remains a beehive of activity as members enjoy darts, pool, shuffleboard and card games as well as hosting regular concerts and dances, said Cameron.
“Many people might think all of our entertainment is geared towards seniors, but that’s not the case at all as we showcase a broad cross-section of entertainers,” he said. “We have a little bit of everything from country to blues to rock.”
The membership from the Osoyoos legion has donated more than $43,000 to various community groups and non-profit organizations over the past three years, said Davies.
One mandate of the legion that will never change is assisting local seniors who need assistance during difficult times, he said.
“Like any community, there are veterans who live here and we make it a priority to take care of their needs,” he said. “We recently helped one local veteran who needed a specific piece of medical equipment worth $6,000 and we worked with other area legions to help get him that piece of equipment he needed so badly.
“There are also numerous veterans who are re-entering civilian life after fighting in Afghanistan and we will help those in need making the transition, be it through bursaries to pursue their education or helping them get established in a community.”
Joining the legion will not only allow you to meet new people in a friendly atmosphere, “but we still have the cheapest drinks in town,” said Davies smiling.
Being a member also provides discounts with many hotel chains and with the British Columbia Automobile Association and other insurance companies, he said.
Anyone considering joining the Osoyoos legion is invited to an open house that has been organized for Wednesday, June 25.
“We invite everyone to come on down and see what we have to offer,” said Davies.