On Remembrance Day, we met with George St-Michel, an original founder of the Halton Naval Veterans Association, to talk about the impact the organization has had on the community, with some help from Cogeco. Here’s what George shared with us.
The Halton Naval Veterans Association came to life in 1989 when a few veterans and friends thought it would be a good idea to find a place to meet and have a few drinks. After a few years, they pooled their finances, bought a building in Halton and started the association. The community was happy to have the club in Halton, and within 5 years they’d paid back their investors along with the mortgage.
Volunteers at the heart of the association
Volunteers run the association on behalf of their members, who strive to maintain the traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy and branches of the Canadian Forces. The club also offers reasonable prices for meals and refreshments, and a fun, quiet place to gather for card games and other activities.
George appreciates how helpful Cogeco has been throughout the pandemic by advertising several of the association’s events on the YourTV channel. George says this has helped grow the club’s attendance, and he hopes to have a long relationship with Cogeco.
Recently, a few younger veterans in their late 50s or early 60s have become members. Word has gotten around that you don’t have to be a member to come to the club and see what it’s all about.
When it comes to upkeep, the association also has a number of retired or licensed tradesmen who help out by taking care of minor repair jobs.
Having ownership of the property plays a big part in the Naval Veterans Association’s success, along with the hard work of all their volunteers. Everyone is welcome and they can rent the hall out at a reasonable price. Further, all Veterans Association funds go to charitable causes.
COVID-19 presents challenges for the club
George says shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic have hurt the association’s bottom line. Still, their members have managed to donate funds to charities they support. That said, since the club got the go-ahead to open again, they’ve kept a closer eye on the budget.
“Hopefully, we’re now on our way to a full recovery,” he says. “We think the Veterans Association will still be here in 5 years.”