ROXBURY – There’s not much these days that can bridge the gap between die-hard liberals and staunch conservatives, but Succasunna resident Laurel Whitney – one of the latter – thought she’d found something: Helping a local VFW.
The plan was simple and Whitney’s liberal friend said she was all-in. The politically opposite women agreed, in October, to set aside their differences, pick up paint scrapers and brushes in the spring and spend a weekend fixing up two exterior walls of VFW Post 2833 in Kenvil.
“It’s peeling,” she said. “It needs to be stripped, not just painted. A lot of the shingles are cracked, which eventually is going to let water in and cause freezing and mold and so forth. The windows need to be stripped, sanded and painted.”
Whitney said she was even ready to chip-in nearly $2,000 for supplies. Although the two walls actually need to be insulated and sheathed in vinyl siding, she figured window repair and new paint was better than nothing.
“I said to her, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’” Whitney said. “She said she was. But now she says she’s busy for the entire spring and summer and can’t find the time to do it.”
She said she’s disappointed on two levels. The project “was supposed to be a common ground between political factions,” Whitney said. But, more importantly, it was going to help the veterans.
So Whitney is now asking people in Roxbury to help her do the job right. She’s trying to find people who will donate time and materials to give Kenvil Post 2833 the new siding it needs, a job she figures will cost about $7,000.
She recently posted her idea on Facebook. The reaction wasn’t initially as enthusiastic as Whitney had hoped. While many of her Facebook friends clicked the “like” button, not too many – even those “always talk about helping the veterans” - have actually pitched in money or supplies.
VFW Post 2833 Junior Vice Commander Bob Mederos said he got a call from a carpenters’ union representative who said he will try to help, but he stressed that nothing was promised.
Only two sides of the building need to work. The other two sides already have vinyl siding. But Mederos said the VFW cannot afford the exterior work. “We’re tapped-out,” said the former Army Ranger, a Vietnam veteran.
The organization has made major renovations to the post’s interior. Much of the work was funded by grants, but not all of it. Post members have dipped into their personal savings accounts to cover the costs, Mederos said.
“We’re just hanging in there by a shoestring to pay the bills,” he said. “Our membership is so low with the recent veterans, possibly because the building was shabby and outdated. They would come in, take a look around and say, ‘This is my father’s VFW.’”
Mederos said he hopes the renovations and upgrades will make the post attractive to younger veterans. “I say to them, ‘This is yours. You can call yours and take care of it and enjoy it. It will need no repairs.’ It will be a completely renovated building so the young vets can come and say, `I have a great, new VFW.’”
Those interested in helping can email Whitney at email@example.com or Mederos at Army.firstname.lastname@example.org.