Legion volunteers and staff go over lists of former and headquarters post members before a recent revitalization effort in California.

Teamwork pays off in California

Teamwork led to a huge success at a pair of recent district revitalization efforts in California. With the combined efforts of national staff, department and district leaders and local Legionnaires, more than 400 members – either new or department headquarters members – were transferred into local posts in the department’s Districts 11 and 12.

The three-day revitalization efforts, which took place simultaneously at American Legion Post 16 in Stockton and Post 74 in Modesto, were a combined effort of national staff and 46 volunteers from the department, district and post level. Each day, Legionnaires stood ready at each post for anywhere from four to nine hours, ready to answer questions about the Legion and what it does for veterans, servicemembers and their families. An American Legion service officer also was available one of the days to answer questions about VA benefits and claims.

Advance preparation was one of the keys to the successful effort. Prior to the event, more than 3,800 letters were sent out to former members, headquarters post members and eligible veterans in the two communities, letting them know that Legion staff would be available to answer questions. The revitalization efforts also were promoted in local newspapers, as well as on local radio stations and public television.

Janet Wilson, the Department of California membership chairman, said having the lists of department headquarters post members, as well as the advance promotion of the events, were keys to their success. Wilson also liked the training that was provided to volunteers who were making phone calls to former and current members, as well as eligible veterans.

"Some people learned how to do telephone work, from listening in to others and finding out it was easy than they thought," Wilson said. "Once the members started getting the first one, the others were so much easier. We all know why we donate our time and energy to the Legion, but asking a stranger on the phone without sounding like a sales call is hard for some."

Some headquarters post members were transferred into outlying posts that didn’t have representatives working in the revitalization efforts. But Walt Butler, Area 3 membership chairman, and 12th District Commander Jodi Griffin will be visiting those posts personally to provide information and training on transferring members from the headquarters post. Department Commander Ken Kramlich, National Executive Committeeman Al Lennox and 11th District Commander Tino Adame assisted in the Post 16 efforts. And after both efforts, a combined 14 Legionnaires and Auxiliary members qualified for the National Commander’s Pin.

A similar revitalization effort will take place in Sacramento in December, and several of the volunteers who assisted in the Modesto and Stockton efforts already have offered to assist in that effort.

"We worked as a team, having a good time in the process," Wilson said. "I think having put more than 400 members into local posts is the cherry on top."