Brown marks almost 35 years with Legion for Volunteer Appreciation Week
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Volunteers are often said to be the lifeblood of small communities around the world and the towns, villages and hamlets of Huron County are no different.
Many simply volunteer their time on their own, cooking meals or knitting clothes and blankets for those who need them, while others are active members of organizations like Lions Clubs, Optimist Clubs, Kinsmen, Legions, Ladies Auxiliaries and more.
In small communities like those throughout Huron County, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that life would be very different if these people didn’t care enough to give of themselves to enrich the lives of others. And, very often, they seek no recognition and are happy to stay out of the spotlight, which can make it hard for members of the community to truly appreciate all that these people do.
One of the most active service groups in The Citizen’s coverage area in the Brussels Legion and one of that Branch’s most active and dedicated volunteers is Sandra Brown.
Brown began her time as a Legion volunteer with the Blyth Legion nearly 35 years ago, but she shifted her membership to the Brussels Branch soon after joining up in Blyth.
She worked at the Branch as a bar steward, but also served as an active member and volunteer. She said she was drawn to give back to the community after her grandfather, father and uncle all served in the armed forces. In fact, she has celebrated the dedication of her father and uncle in the Second World War on a Remembrance Day banner in Brussels.
She has even worked to display a number of her family’s artifacts from various conflicts when they were discovered in a closet and given to her several years ago. Everything from dog tags to telegrams were in that package, she said, and it was amazing to go through it. She said it would be a shame not to share it with the rest of the world.
Though Brown began as an employee and a standard member of the Branch, she is now one of the most active members it has. She is currently serving as the secretary, the chair of the membership committee, the Poppy Chair, chair of the Catch the Ace committee and a member of the fish fry committee. If the Branch has a committee, Brown is likely on it in some capacity.
She said that while volunteering with the Branch has a lot to do with her family’s history and wanting to give back to the community, there is plenty of fun to be had as a member of a service club, working with other like-minded members. “It’s a blast,” she said.
One of the things she says she has seen change over the years has been the acceptance of members who were not active members of the armed forces. Decades ago, she said, there was a real movement to keep the organization for those who had served their country. Now, she said, many of those same people are working to welcome civilian members with open arms.
Not only that, but she has seen a real jump in interest and involvement with young people, which is essential to the survival of any service club or volunteer organization. She says getting more involved with the young people of the community has been a positive step forward.
As far as her favourite activities with the Branch, Brown says she always looks forward to the public speaking and poster competitions, which likely dates back to her time as the youth chair of the organization. She also looks forward to Remembrance Day on the calendar, the most important day in a Legion Branch’s year.