Brunswick man hopes to revitalize American Legion Post

Bob Effler, the new commander of the Steadman-Keenan American Legion Post 96 in Brunswick, is leading an effort to revive the post.

BRUNSWICK -- Established in 1927, the Steadman-Keenan American Legion Post 96 has long been a pillar of the community.

These days, declining member involvement led to the post being less active than leadership would like.

New Commander Bob Effler is hoping to change all that. Effler is leading an effort to revive the post and save it from possible closure.

"I just hated to see something with so much history and so many accomplishments in the past go down without a fight," he said.

Effler said the post has several hundred members on the books, but only about 50 who are involved on a regular basis. He hopes to bring current members back into the fold and recruit new ones.

"We want to tell people 'Hey, we're not inactive and we're not closing the doors up -- we're actually going to give it a good stand and a good fight to revive ourselves and do what we stand for,'" said Effler, a retired 24-year Air Force veteran who serves in a civilian capacity at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. He took over as commander of the post in July. He said he was not happy about immediately having to turn down several opportunities to serve the community because of a lack of funds.

"One of my first disappointments was not being able to send a local kid to one of our camps," Effler said. "There was also a little league baseball team that wanted sponsorship. Probably my biggest disappointment was that first month, but my goal is that that won't happen next year."

A number of permits for the hall have lapsed, and one of the first steps will be getting all the paperwork in order so events can be held there, Effler said. A group of members will also be getting together to do some cleaning and repairs at the hall.

"Our hall is big enough that we're looking to rent it for weddings, for events, to have dances, maybe some types of parties," he said. "We're trying to lock-step though this in a very logical manner so that we get a real good return on our investment, and not try to spend a lot of money for a lot of things that aren't going to provide an instant return."

Effler said membership has discussed potential events, including involvement with an upcoming First Friday, but wants to get everything in order before moving ahead with any specific plans.

Effler said while the challenges of returning the post to its past level of activity and community involvement are significant, he is confident that they can be overcome.

"The past is the past," Effler said. "We've had a very good, long past, but there were some bumps. We've overcome a lot of those, and this is an effort to truly pull out of them and get back to what the Legion stands for."

Anyone interested in volunteering or becoming a member is asked to call the post at 301-834-8121 for information.

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