They stopped showing up after only a few visits, and it wasn’t because the meat made them sick.
“Eventually I found out the reason they weren’t coming anymore was because there was no way for them to use the restroom,” post commander Richard Voorhies said. “They were just too small.”
The experience made Voorhies realize the building at 3720 Alba Rd., which has housed the Garden Oaks American Legion post since 1951, needed an upgrade. It closed for about five months earlier this year for an interior remodeling.
Voorhies has been eager to show off the new-and-improved post, which serves the community’s veterans, since its reopening about two months ago.
“From the entryway on back, everything – flooring, spruced-up interior – is brand new. We also put in ADA compliant restrooms,” Voorhies said. “We rearranged the offices and put in new flooring throughout the whole place, improved the lighting. Everything is brand new. We’ve also now built a wall separating the event hall from the club room.”
Garden Oaks Post 560 was founded in 1946 by World War I and recently returned World War II veterans living in the Garden Oaks-Oak Forest area. By 1948 they met in a pavilion on a five-acre lot on the corner of Golf and Judiway streets, which they landscaped with a playground and ball field (now American Legion Park). The post moved into its current home in 1951, so some upgrades were needed.
Between reflooring the club room, building a separating wall and remodeling the restrooms, Voorhies said the post spent roughly $200,000 on the undertaking.
“In some cases, it wasn’t just remodeling, it was rebuilding,” he said. “And here we are today.”
Post 560 has resumed its regular monthly events, such as steak night, fish night and comedy night, among other gatherings. Voorhies hopes the improvements will attract more area veterans as well as future veterans.
“After being down for five months, people have either forgotten we’re here or we’ve just gone to the back of their minds,” he said. “If any veteran has any situation or problems of any kind, we can help them out and get them where they need to go or the care that they need.”
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Post 560 will be partnering with St. Rose of Lima and other organizations for a turkey drive feeding first responders in the parking lot, while simultaneously packing boxes of food to give to the area’s less fortunate. On Thanksgiving Day, as well as Christmas and New Year’s Day, the post will open its doors to the neighborhood.
“Our main goal is still just reaching out to the community and hoping the community can come help us serve and support these veterans,” Voorhies said.