Building for the Future

DENMARK, Wisc. (WBAY) In the heart of Denmark, American Legion Post 363 is home to 108 members and growing each year.

It recently received a state award for its growing membership.

"We lose 5 people, roughly 5 people a year through death and we've been able to replace those 5 members, plus increase our membership 8-percent and we're proud of that," says Post 363 Commander Terry Rueckert.

Veterans in Demark say it's a camaraderie built on the simple concept of asking.

"A lot of veterans are never asked, when you ask them, get them a membership card to fill out and tell them that we need you," says Rueckert.

While membership is strong, the gathering place is a different story.

"When it was built I don't think they knew what insulation was, there is no insulation in this building," says Rueckert.

Built in the early 1900's as a blacksmith shop, the American Legion took over the building in the 1950's.

Not only does it cost nearly $200 a month to keep the room warm enough for 1-2 meetings a month, the building is not handicap accessible and requires a steep descent into the basement to use the bathroom.

"In fact we have a lot of members that have called and said they cannot make the meetings because they can't get into our building and once they get into the building, they can't get down the steps," says Rueckert.

In just over a year, the post has raised close to half of its $120,000 goal to build a new post on the same ground.

Thanks to donations from local businesses and residents, that dream inches closer to reality.

"At first we were thinking geez, are we going to have to send all this money back because if we don't get it done, but I think we're a lot more optimistic now that we're going to reach our goal," says Post 363 Finance Officer Mike Parmentier.

"A lot of other organizations, their obstacle is just membership or lack of interest, sadly our main obstacle is the building and once we have this taken care of we're ready to go, we'll be ready for the next generation to step in, take our place," adds Rueckert.

Anyone interested in helping American Legion Post 363 raise funds for its new building can send donations to:

American Legion Post 363
PO Box 481
Denmark, WI 54208