Seniors keep Carol Stream Legion going

Published9/12/2008 12:05 AM

Age is just a number - right? And if you are like many of today's boomers and seniors, you don't let it keep you from being an active member of society. As a matter of fact, with so many young people consumed with careers and family obligations, the golden timers are one of our nation's greatest assets.

Actually, older adults keep Carol Stream's American Legion Post 76 going strong.


Deldon Miller, 63, Judge Advocate, is a 26-year member and most always can be found volunteering at the steak fries, bingo, turkey and ham shoots, and the majority of many other fundraisers and events. As he pointed out, the legion's objective is to take care the veterans and support the community as well so there is much that needs his attention.

"We sponsor sports' teams, the American Legion Baseball Team, Scout programs, scholarship programs, a Christmas program to help the needy and more," said Miller. "The younger ones can't step forward because of other commitments."

Miller's wife, Carol, 62, has served four terms as president of the Woman's Auxiliary during her more than 25-year membership. And she echoes her husband's sentiment.

"They (seniors) have the time to give, to help run projects and a wealth of knowledge," she said. "With life's experiences, they have more than one way to look at things too."

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Carol is certainly no stranger to volunteer work. She helps in the kitchen, with the Poppy Day fundraiser, hosts bingo at the post and the DuPage Convalescent Center in Wheaton, for both the veterans and nonveterans and the list goes on.

Another fine example of senior volunteerism is Fran Howanietz, 78, who has been a member of the woman's auxiliary for more than 25 years.

"I'm very happy to serve as an older adult for my veterans," said Howanietz. "The newer members can't do it."

She added that they just don't have the time with so many other obligations. However, Howanietz does have the time and she is enthusiastic about her volunteering too. You can find her in the legion kitchen, setting-up and taking-down before and after events, helping with the steak fries and turkey and ham shoots, preparing the food for the spaghetti dinner fundraiser, selling tickets at the weekly Bingo and the list goes on and on.

"Anything I can do for my veterans, I do," said Howanietz.

Monica McCrea, 56, has been an auxiliary member for more than eight years.

"I like to be around people whether young or old, seniors or veterans," she said. "I like to help support anyone who needs help."


She has worked alongside the others in the kitchen, with fundraising for the vets and making Christmas baskets for the needy plus too much more to mention.

Barb Goepel, 61, has been an auxiliary member for 20 years and at any given time you can find Barb and husband, Jim, 60, also a legion member, volunteering at the post for the events.

"There is a core group of people that are there for everything," said Barb. "And the majority are 50 and up."

Barb also pointed out that perhaps one reason that the legion's volunteers are typically 50 and up is that this generation was taught to help others.

"This is the way a lot of us were brought up," she said. "They (younger members) have to make a tough choice."

She is referring to the choice to volunteer or take care of the kids and other demands in today's world when there doesn't seem to be enough time.

Of course, volunteering also offers many rewards for these caring people.

"The legion in a lot of ways is our family," said Barb of the many people they have grown very close to. "You know how they say you can't pick your family but here you can. If everyone did a tiny bit we wouldn't have the same people doing it (volunteering) all the time."

For now, all these great people will continue to keep Post 76 one of the most active posts in the area.

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