Fort Hill American Legion Auxiliary Unit #376
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Why do women join the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA)?
A: According to the Auxiliary magazine survey, the most popular reasons are to honor a relative who served or honor veterans/active duty. They may have been encouraged by a friend or family member to join. To a lesser degree, some women want to serve their country, give their support, were signed up as a child, or they joined for Legion benefits. (For more stats visit the ALA website and click on the magazine media kit.) What they don’t mention is the potential for friendship. If you participate, you may find that you’ve met some really nice women that are fun to be around and to talk to.
Q: If I don’t participate/volunteer with my local Unit, but I pay annual membership dues, I’m still helping my community, right?
A: Yes (and no). Your dues are helping mostly at the higher levels, which is very good, but not as much at your local level. The local, county, state, and national ALA levels are very much intertwined. The current 2014 dues for Unit 376 are $25.00/year for a senior. Of this, *$17 goes to the County, which in turn is distributed to the State/ALA Dept. of NY and National projects as well as the Auxiliary magazine subscription. $8 stays at home – more than before because of our rate increase. We help the Legion, children, veterans, and the Post of Oxford.
(*The $17 breaks down as follows: $9 to National which includes the subscription, $5.70 Department Dues, .50 District President Funds, .75 back to the County, .80 Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Fund, .25 Children and Youth Fund.)
The Junior dues are $5. That breaks down to: $1.25 to National, $2.45 Department Level Dues – Jr. Activities Fund, .50 Back to the County, .80 Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Fund.
Q: If you don’t keep most of the dues, then how do you do things (that cost money) for the community?
A: Fundraisers and donations. You can read about our efforts on the Fundraising page. Some projects have little-to-no overhead so proceeds are all (or mostly all) profit, like our donated vintage quilt raffle. Even the 500 raffle tickets were donated by Price Chopper. Others, like our Garage Sale or dinners have food, food prep, flyer printing, and newspaper display advertising costs so the net is reduced. No member gets paid for their volunteering so labor is free. If you don’t offer to help we can’t get it done!
Q: Is everything the ALA does to raise funds?
A: No, not everything. In 2013 our Unit 376 held an Open House. It showcased all the many things that the entire Legion does from the history of the Post (and American Legion’s development) to the Boys’ and Girls’ State. We had one table simply devoted to the many ways we use the US flag! Our Miss Poppy was there wearing her official sash, Boys State delegates were there to answer questions, and everything was in patriotic red, white and blue.
We also had a primary school level poppy coloring contest.
Speaking of patriotic, we wouldn’t miss marching in Oxford’s Memorial Day parade and on Veterans Day we help hold an honorary service at the Post.
Q: Does the ALA have to help the Legionnaires with their projects?
A: No, we do not have to. We are independent organizations, but we gladly cooperate with the Legion as it is our honor. The Post does not control the Unit associated with it, but we carry out the National Constitution's pledge "to participate in and contribute to the accomplishment of the aims and purposes of The American Legion." So, if the Legion is having a fundraising dinner and they nicely ask us to bake cakes for dessert, we do so willingly. If they want our assistance with the Oratorical Contest, we’re there. Over the decades since the Legion Auxiliary was created, the ALA has developed their own agenda but that doesn’t diminish their original mission of helping veterans. For nearly a century, The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion have worked steadfastly, side by side, promoting patriotism and national security while supporting youth and advocating for veterans and active-duty military. The Legion Family also includes American Legion Riders, a program of motorcycle enthusiasts.
Q: Are there any ALA member benefits?
A: Yes, visit online at https://www.alaforveterans.org/Resources/Member-Benefits/ . They have expanded benefits with a partnership with Gallagher Benefit Services Inc. and their associated members. They have dental and vision discount plans, life and pet insurance, and more. (You have to compare rates to see if it’s for you.) Other discounts are available by registering online at ALA.MemberDiscounts.co (not com). Register with code ALADiscounts . (It appears to be a lot of online merchandise sites offering web sales.)
Q: I heard there are so many meetings to go to. How many ALA Unit meetings are there to go to per year?
A: Our Oxford Unit 376 meets 9 times a year. That’s once a month, we meet at 7 PM, on the second Tuesday (except in September when it’s the 3rd Tuesday due to Labor Day). We do not meet in January, July, or August. Other holiday meeting conflicts can/have been voted on to decide if changing them is justified.
(You might have additional meetings if you’re on a special committee.)
Q: As a member of Oxford Unit #376, should I go to the Chenango County ALA meetings and if so, how many are there?
If you go to all the Chenango County ALA meetings, that’s another 9 meetings. They meet once a month on the first Monday, at 6:30 PM, at different county posts. It’s important to have a delegate from your Unit there to find out what the County ALA is doing and bring word back to the Unit. They do things with Unit funds such as make donations to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. LRMC is an overseas military hospital operated by the United States Army and the Department of Defense. Money is needed to buy US soldiers sweatpants, phone cards, etc. Locally the CC ALA donates to our county food pantries, Hospice, and lots more. They also need input and ideas from the Units – getting your opinion heard is another good reason to go.
Q: What are the six physical addresses of the Chenango County Posts where ALA meetings are held?
A: 1) Sherburne - American Legion Post #876, 15 S. Main Street, Sherburne, NY.
2) South Otselic - American Legion Post #973 (Perry Cook), 618 Valley View Rd, S. Otselic, NY. 3) New Berlin - American Legion Post #348 (Frank H. Arnold), 8 Academy Street, New Berlin, NY. 4) Norwich - American Legion Post #189 (Lt. Warren E. Eaton, DSC), 29 Sheldon Street, Norwich, NY. 5) Oxford – American Legion Post #376, (Fort Hill), 17 S. Washington Avenue, Oxford, NY. 6) McDonough – American Legion Post #1478 (Edwin Wilbur Jr.), 1136 County Road 5, McDonough, NY.
Q: What are the ALA conventions/conferences and how many are there?
A: There are four conventions/conferences: one Department Conference, one Department Convention, and two Sixth District Conferences. The Department of NY Mid-Winter Leadership Conference held in January in Albany, NY; the April Spring Sixth District Conference (locations determined each year); and
the July Department of NY (summer) Convention (locations determined each year). [When traveling long distances, it is customary to vote on giving the Chenango County president $200-300 of spending money for expenses.]
There is also a Fall Sixth District Conference that rotates in location as well. The location is up to the District President and the dates are set by Department, as the Department Officers attend this conference only. (The 2014 Spring Conference will be in Cortland County on April 12.)
Depending on the meeting, there might be teaching conferences, activities like packing back packs with items to comfort children of active military service personnel, district nominations or the election of officers, presentation of citations, reports on By-Laws, voting for Standing Rules, donations for the Auxiliary Emergency Fund and to the Holiday Funds for the NYS Veterans’ Home of Oxford and Bath, NY, a memorial to deceased ALA members, and much more.
Q: I am an ALA member and receive the American Legion Auxiliary magazine. How much does that cost and can I opt out if I’m not interested in it?
A: The magazine is published 4 times/year and costs you $3.40 (paid out of your dues). At first I wrote that you can not opt out; because it’s automatically mailed. I found out that the membership chairman can go into the Auxiliary's online registration and unclick the magazine option, but you won't get that money back.
Before you consider opting out, skim thru it – the magazine is another teaching tool as to what the ALA is all about and what the projects and programs are. You may find good ideas or heartwarming stories. Auxiliary editorial is designed to educate, motivate, inspire, entertain and showcase the extraordinary people and projects that make a difference in communities across the country and around the globe. If you have a story you’d like to submit via email: alamagazine@ALAforVeterans.org
To view online or past Issues: http://www.legion-aux.org/Magazine/. To buy an additional gift subscription costs $15/year.
Q: Some members have special ALA jewelry or t-shirts. How can I get ALA merchandise?
A: The American Legion Flag & Emblem
store carries Legion licensed products (apparel, name tags, books, awards, embroidered patches, and more). You can find them online: http://emblem.legion.org/ or request a printed catalog by calling: (888) 453-4466.
Q: What’s American Legion Auxiliary Girls’ State and does the Oxford Unit #376 support it?
A: Yes, Unit #376 proudly sponsors at least one Oxford Academy High School junior to attend Empire Girls’ State as a delegate through interviews held in February. ALA Girls’ State is an amazing, week-long, educational workshop held at SUNY Brockport, focusing on Americanism and the political process. Students must be in the top third of their class. Consideration is given to scholastic achievements, leadership, character, honesty and physical fitness. Once there, students are assigned to mock cities and divided into a “Federalist Party” and a “Nationalist Party.” They are immersed into learning about the political process from dedicated volunteers, making sure the program’s nonpartisan governmental, patriotic and civic objectives are carried out with intense learning along with some fun. The program directors also stay vigilant about raising the girls’ awareness of the importance of service, particularly to our veterans, the military and their families. The "citizens" that return always seem so energized and excited about all the fun they had and friends they made!
Q: What’s the Past Presidents Parley (PPP)?
A: It is a meeting/forum of members who have held the office of (unit/department) president. It is open to all members; you do not have to be a former president to attend. (They meet two times per year – March and September, 6 PM, often a “covered dish” supper, (location to be determined. It could be at a restaurant. In the past, it has been at Judy Baker’s house in Sherburne.) These leaders share their wisdom as ambassadors and provide ongoing mentorship to empower and bolster the Auxiliary’s present leaders, ensuring the continuity and strength of the organization at all levels. Some items are voted upon. If you have not been a president, you are not permitted to vote at the meeting.
The Chenango County Past Presidents Parley recognizes and honors:
Women veterans – by doing projects for them;
Women currently serving in the military with “Active Duty Servicewomen of the Year” award; and Outstanding unit members who do the hard work of service with the “Unit Member of the Year” award. Awards are presented at the National Convention.
Nursing Scholarships: PPP assists deserving students who are pursuing an education in the nursing/medical field. They undertake fundraising efforts (i.e. hold a patriotic quilt raffle) to provide scholarship benefits for two or more individuals annually entering or attending nursing/medical training. They develop resources to provide financial aid information for nursing/medical students. The applicants do not have to be in college, they can be adults. There is a PPP dinner to present the scholarships held in a restaurant at the end of May. They have given as much as four $100 scholarships in one year.
Q: Each Unit pays Past President Parley dues. How much are they and how are they calculated?
A: The dues are $8.00 per former president (only living ones). If you have 12 past presidents –as we at Unit 376 do- multiply that times the $8 = $96. This amount is due at the start of the new (fiscal) year, in September/November.
Q: What is an American Legion Auxiliary “unit?”
A: An ALA unit is a group of at least 10 individuals—and they must be connected with an American Legion post. That requirement has to do with the way The American Legion was chartered by Congress. (We also have foreign units in other parts of the world.) Read more about the ALA’s organizational structure here: https://www.alaforveterans.org/about/
Q: Our Oxford, NY, ALA unit #376 has nearly 200 members. In Chenango County, how many ALA members and units are there?
A: There are approximately 665 ALA members from 6 units in the county.
[Rounded #s] McDonough Unit #1478 – 30, New Berlin Unit #348 – 35, Norwich Unit #189 - 220, Oxford Unit #376 - 220, Sherburne Unit #876 - 110, and South Otselic Unit #973 - 50 members.
Q: What’s the next higher level up (in organization structure) after the Chenango County level?
A: The next higher level is the Sixth District. Chenango County is one of ten counties that make up the 6th District. Those counties are: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, and Tompkins. (They don’t seem to have a website, but they do have a Facebook page here:)
Q: What’s the next higher up (in organization structure) after the Sixth District of NY?
A: The Department of New York is the next level. They have a website and page with the entire map of New York State and its districts.
Q: Why do the top NY State leaders (Legion Commander, Auxiliary President, and SAL Detachment Commander) visit each year?
A: During their one-year terms in office, the officials travel to all of New York’s sixty-two counties and visit each of the state’s five veterans’ homes as part of the annual visitation. Their purpose is to coordinate Legion activities and to see what is being done for veterans and their families. They also collect donations for their projects.
Q: During the annual visitation, do presidents, such as from the Sixth District in the Auxiliary receive gifts from the members?
A: Yes, but it’s a nominal donation per unit. For instance, for the District President, the six units in Chenango County each contribute $2 which totals $12. All ten counties in the 6th District pitch in as well. This is usually used to get her a “Welcome Basket” of stress relief items and/or locally-made things to serve as a memento of her visit.
Q: Why do units have to supply the county with over two dozen committee reports three times a year?
A: It’s done three times a year because there’s too much data to collect all at one time. The Chenango County ALA consolidates information on volunteer hours, income, expenses, etc. and sends it to the Dept. of NY. They, in turn, submit the data (just the totals mostly) to National and it helps the Auxiliary with its tax-exempt status. The final results are like a report card.
The results produce national figures such as: The ALA volunteered more than 8 million hours in mission service, with 6.6 million hours dedicated to serving veterans at home, in hospitals, and in shelters; and helping ¾ million active-duty military families. They raised and donated nearly $36 million for mission service, with more than $5 million raised from poppy program donations, nearly $3 million awarded in scholarships, and $1.8 million spent aiding military families.
Q: What are the committees that each unit has to assign a chairman to and report on three times a year?
A: There are 20 topics: Americanism, Auxiliary Emergency Fund, Cancer Awareness, Chaplain, Children & Youth, Constitution & Bylaws, Community Service, Education, Empire Girls State, Historian, Junior Activities, Leadership, Legislative, Membership, National Security, Past President’s Parley, Poppy Poster, Public Relations, V A & R, and Warriors Family Assistance. When you have nothing to report, write “no activity” on the form, but still submit it to the Chenango County representative. Dates for the unit to submit (most) forms is November 1, March 1, and May 1. Read more here: http://www.deptny.org/programs/
Q: Why is it important to keep a record of how many years you’ve been an ALA member?
A: There are pins and certificates as recognition for your dedication and service that are presented usually at each decade. Also, our Unit #376 agreed that after 40 years of membership, we will pay all future dues.
Q: How do you become a Paid Up For Life (PUFL) member?
A: Through PUFL, members pay a one-time fee to gain lifetime membership in the American Legion Auxiliary. To enroll, one must be in good standing and must have held a valid membership card for the current year. The cost is based upon two factors -- the member's age at the time of application/purchase and the total dues of the Unit at the time the application is processed. (The total dues of the Unit consist of the Department per capita, the National per capita and the amount of annual dues retained by the Unit.) As an example, in 2014, Unit #376 charges $25 annual dues. For an ALA member age 50-59, the PUFL cost is $623. If the dues increased, this would be a saving.
Each year thereafter, National Headquarters will send the Unit, through its Department Headquarters, the Unit's share of the member's annual dues. The Unit will receive the same amount each year as long as the member lives and remains a member of that Unit.