There's little The American Legion cannot do when it puts its mind to it. There's even less our Legion family can't accomplish working together. Just ask Paul Zimarowski Sr.
Commander of Francis W. Robbins Post 194 in Florence, N.J., Zimarowski recently witnessed firsthand what that family can do in a short period of time. Word reached Zimarowski from a friend and local radio personality – Derik Glen, who hosts a veterans radio show on 92.1 FM – about a Vietnam veteran and his family of four living in a 10-foot camper. Glen offered to pay to bring the family to Post 194's annual picnic.
"I said, ‘No, you will not pay for them; they will be our guests,'" Zimarowski said. "But I thought that maybe we could do more."
Zimarowski posted a note on Facebook asking for people to bring non-perishable food items to the picnic for the family. He put a notice up on the post's website and spoke with other members of the post's Legion family. Within three days, 15 boxes of food were contributed. A local teacher, hearing of the situationa, collected $275 in Visa gift cards from her school's faculty.
At the picnic, the family's twin girls were given toys, while the mother and father were inconspicuously "slipped" more than $270 in cash. And the father, who has a commercial driver's license, was given leads on potential employment with three local businesses hiring truck drivers.
"Hopefully something can come of that," Zimarowski said. "Florence is just a fantastic area. The people really support our causes here. And the family was so thankful. They had tears in their eyes and said that they will never forget Florence. They adopted Post 194 as their second family."
And it was Post 194's Legion family that got the ball rolling. Zimarowski said everyone in the post – Legionnaires, the Auxiliary, Sons and Legion Riders – chipped in. The post also received support at the department and county level.
"It just felt so good to do what we did for this family," Zimarowski said. "I am so proud of my post, the people, the town of Florence. It's hard to describe how it feels."
Try feeling proud, Paul. Both you and Post 194's Legion family deserve it. You really came through.