The American Legion Training Tuesday session on May 30 welcomed Brian Mohlman, Department of Michigan membership director and a member of SSG Michael A. Dickinson II Post 257 in Battle Creek, Mich. Mohlman presented on how American Legion posts can get involved in their community and in return, get the community involved in their post.
“That's very, very important because once the community becomes involved in your post, what you're doing means something to that community,” he said. “Then it's all about visibility. It's all about letting the community know what you're doing and letting them see the valuable contributions that you're making.”
In 2017, Post 257 had 55 members. Since then, the post has grown each year thanks to its community outreach and engagement efforts. For 2023, Post 257 has about 268 members.
“As far as your own local post, look at the needs of your community,” Mohlman said. “Also importantly, do anything that gets the family involved in your post because once you've got the family involved, everything else is easy.”
Mohlman shared a few events that has helped the post grow during the Training Tuesday. Listen to the training here. These events include:
· Adopting a highway to clean up. “This is a great opportunity for our younger veterans and older veterans to become a part of the community and and to be visible out there.”
· Building ramps for disabled veterans. “We’ve built a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and we have built several ramps for disabled veterans in in the community.”
· Hosting a family day for a local Army Reserve unit. “Once you start interacting with the local military, you know they talk to each other and we've been successful in recruiting younger, currently serving members.”
· Raising the flag at high school football games on Friday nights. “Our post namesake graduated from that same school back in 1998. So we built a very, very close relationship with the school, and they appreciate that we're continually running into people who either had an influence on Staff Sergeant Dickinson's life or vice versa.”
· Hosting a farmers market at the post. “In 2021, we started what we call a farmers market and it created so much activity at the post that it drew the nickname ‘the member market.’ We had everything from fruits, vegetables to small plants, birdhouses.”
· Having a trunk-or-treat for kids on Halloween. About 400 kids come to the post for this event. “It’s just a steady line of kids coming through and just having a lot of safe fun for Halloween.”
· Hosting drivers training for high school students during the pandemic. “The opportunity that we had to have these students at the post every day gave us the opportunity to educate them about programs, about scholarship opportunities, about Boys State, Girls State. This was a great opportunity. Not only for the students but for the community to let them know that, you know, we're just pitching in, we're helping out where we can.”
“You have to go out into the community and let them know what you're doing or else you're not going to attract new members,” Mohlman said. “If you don't go out in the community, your community doesn't see you.”