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Northbridge, Mass. American Legion forced to close to community

May 22, 2012 6:24pm
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(NECN: Kristen Doucet) - Korean War veteran Francis Dowd has been a member of the American Legion Post 341 in Worcester, Mass. for 45 years.

“Membership is very poor. We happen to be lucky though; we have a large membership; our membership here consists of over 200 members,” Dowd says.

The American Legion Post 343 in Northbridge hasn’t been so lucky.

Due to a lack of money, a critical decision was recently made by the post.

“We don't have any money coming in to sufficiently sustain our function hall, so we made a hard decision, and that decision is we have to close our function hall,” says Harry Berkowitz, the commander of Post 343.

A side room will stay open to accommodate their remaining 88 members, but the hall will no longer serve the community.

“People had birthday parties, christenings, we've even had weddings here; well, that's not going to be available anymore.”

The post is currently in talks to lease the hall for office space in order to raise money.

The post commander is hoping for a resolution sometime next month.

“If we can get the hall rented out and get income coming in, I feel we could do more as time goes on because we won't have the added expense of the hall,” says Joseph Williamson.

He also says American Legion posts all across the nation are facing similar challenges.

Williamson says the organization still provides vital services to the community and needs to be here.

“Everything hinges on the American Legion, the VFW, the Am vets; these are the organizations who are lobbying congress for benefits.”

Dowd says he has seen the benefits of the American Legion firsthand.

He says they need to be here to help veterans returning from war.

“The biggest factor is they need to work," says Dowd. "They have to have some jobs, somehow, some way, no matter who gets it for them; it has to be done."
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