Basking in the afternoon sunlight Judy Flieger accepted her lifetime membership from friends and comrades at the Royal Canadian Legion branch 636 Minden on Saturday Sept. 8.
Flieger earned the award for outstanding service and was presented her lifetime membership card pin and badge from president Jim Ross and first vice president Jim Donaldson.
Ross commended Flieger for turning the finances of the branch around.
When she joined the Minden Legion several years ago it was $4000 in debt. After three years as president the branch had $89000 in the bank. As a result the branch has a strong future. The money enabled renovations to the building which included new floors and washrooms.
Flieger appreciated the recognition for her hard work but shared the success.
“It’s not just one person. It’s a group of people working together. The executive I had was absolutely wonderful” she said.
She said success stems from running the Legion like a business and the support of her husband.
“Not a cheque went out of this place in the three years I was president that I didn’t sign. I think it is so important to [have] control over your expenditures and watch your inventory … the same as it is in any business. I have to thank my husband Roy my right-hand person. Without him none of this would have been possible. He was more help than anybody realizes” she said.
In addition to executive members Flieger made sure to thank her friend and Legion volunteer Helen Ford. She calls her the “resident hugger.”
Everybody who comes into the Legion receives a hug she said laughing.
Flieger presented Ford with a quilt she made that included a hand-written poem on a stitched heart just minutes after her own ceremony. The quilt was symbolic of the Legion’s love she wanted her friend to feel and the perpetual hug it will convey every time she uses it.
“Everybody loves Helen. As I said in my speech she’s not even a member and yet she did so much for us helping out with different events” she said.
Locally the Legion is responsible for helping a variety of charitable organizations such as Fuel for Warmth Wounded Warriors Food for Kids Haliburton County and the Minden Food Bank.
“It’s just giving back to the community. We have so much as Canadians. We have so much. If everybody gave back a little bit it would make such a difference in the world” she said.
She’s been a volunteer in some capacity the last 55 years.
As a former president she’s most proud about how the Legion moved the Remembrance Day ceremonies to the downtown four years ago. Recognizing and helping veterans is at the heart of all of her work with the Legion. It is important for Flieger who had two uncles that served in the military and her dad who did his part as an air raid warden in Oakville.
Flieger first joined the Legion in 2004 in Brighton Ont. to help and to pay respect to veterans who she believes need support. They served so others didn’t have to. She said many were left with post-traumatic stress disorder which wasn’t treated or even recognized. It not only hurt them but also their families. She hasn’t forgotten this and wants others to remember what they did.
“We wouldn’t have what we have today without them” she said.