As the finance officer of the American Legion Post 134 I mainly spend my time with the finances of the Post, not very interesting or glamorous. One of the great things about the Legion though is that there is always room to volunteer and spearhead different projects. A few months ago I began wondering why we were constantly battling graffiti on the side of the building along 15th avenue. Why didn’t we have a fancy mural like a lot of the other buildings in the area? So I started looking into it and found out over the years a few post members had tried or at least looked into getting a mural on the wall. That was all I had to hear, a challenge that no one else had gotten done!
I immediately started working with the Executive board and got support to find submissions from artists. I put out a call on social media and got a few interested parties. Then it was a matter of keeping on the board to make sure they accepted an entry and got the ball rolling on getting it done! We found and voted for the submission by local artist Derek Yost. He was willing to donate his time and talent, all we had to do was a fundraiser for the supplies. I set up a GoFundMe and after putting it on social media and Next Door we had our money in two short days! I was beside myself by how quickly our friends and neighbors came together to donate and help us beautify the building and neighborhood.
After a bit of time preparing the building with the amazing help of Barry Larrain, we were ready for some Art! It was only three days but local Artist Derek Yost had turned an ugly blank wall into a beautiful Mural for all the of the neighbors and friends in the area to enjoy! I remember when I first pulled up to the building when he was almost finished and I was shocked by how beautiful it looked! I have never been involved in bringing Art to an area and especially such a big project. But there it was, a mural for everyone to enjoy that hadn’t been accomplished before on the Legion! I am very proud to have spearheaded this project with the help of our amazing commander Kevin Beasley, our entire executive board, and especially Barry Larrain for his sweat equity!
This whole journey has reminded me of that things you can accomplish with some motivation, volunteering time, and desire to make positive change! The American Legion may be an organization that has been around for over 100 years, but it is constantly changing with the membership and involvement of its volunteers. The members and the community help shape the forward direction of the local American Legion posts and anything is possible when you try! I encourage others to join their local posts and see what kind of positive change you can make! Lets make sure this historic Veteran organization has a future with the support and forward thinking of the members and the local community that made it the place to be for so many generations!
Robin Eckstein, Finance Officer for American Legion Frederick & John Ravin Post 134 Portland, Oregon