The members of the John Duggar American Legion Post 164 in Pembroke are not strangers to the concept of meeting a challenge head-on.
Less than two years ago, the post was in danger of closing because of lack of money and dwindling membership. Today, it is the recipient of two awards and helping revitalize the town.
“We like to be as active in the community as possible, so we got to work and got things squared away,” Post Adjutant Ernie Mitchell said. “We started gaining members, a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan guys, and our fundraising and donations went up.”
In 2014, membership was in the low 30s, with only about one-quarter of them active. Post 164 now has close to 50 members and was third in Georgia last year among American Legions for membership retention.
Post 164 also received a state award for its support of youth programs. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and 4-H are allowed to use the facilities free for meetings and activities.
The hall also is available to rent for $125 for events such as birthday parties and bridal or baby showers.
“We’re averaging about three a month, and that pretty much covers our bills,” Mitchell said.
Along the way, Post 164 has had help from the community it seeks to help. Owens Supply, for example, donated paint so the American Legion post could spruce up the inside of its hall for those rentals.
The post recently held an appreciation night to thank its supporters. Aside from Owens, the city of Pembroke, the Downtown Development Authority, Pembroke Advanced Communications, Pembroke Pharmacy, Tony Perks Plumbing, Hunni-Luvin BBQ and Elizabeth Norman were thanked.
Post 164 also named Pembroke police Chief Randy Alexander as Public Service Officer of the Year, William Wayne as Pembroke Police Officer of the Year and Paul Ringo as Pembroke Firefighter of the Year.