‘For our survival we have to reach out’: Kingston, Ont. legion needs donations to fix leaking roof

A legion in Kingston, Ont. is appealing to the public to help fix its leaking roof, because the total is a hefty sum and the funds set aside for the repairs were used to stay open during COVID.

The Matthew J. Dawe Memorial Legion Branch 631 has had the roof since the 1970s, says the roof’s project manager Gord Rittwage.

“Just gradually over 50 years, it just deteriorated and deteriorated,” he explains.

The legion branch is now having to fundraise a hefty sum for it to be replaced, at $100,000.

On a day when there is consistent rain forecasted, the water threatens to drip through the ceiling and flood the bar below. To keep everything open and functioning is not an easy task, inside a large tarp and buckets around the bar keep the water at bay. 

While overnight, the branch president Tom Briggs says he needs to stand guard.

“(I) made sure that if water came through that it would have been managed without getting all over the floor because we’re just trying to save the floor too, eh?”

Rittwage says the club room sits below, and it’s where everyone gathers.

“Our club room is the heart and soul of the legion,” he says. “This is where the members come. This is where the veterans come.”

The problem was found three years ago, but during the pandemic, the plans changed. The legion had to spend the $60,000 it had in its reserves just to keep the lights on, instead of fixing the roof.

The legion is one of two in the city of Kingston and serves more than 400 members. Rittwage says they support veterans reaching from World War 2 to active members. 

“We have paid people’s rent, we have paid people’s hydro, we have saved them from being kicked out on to the street and we’ve even helped their children,” he says. “And that’s what we can do when we have money in our bank accounts.”

Thanks to a loan from another legion, the roof will be replaced, and all fundraising efforts will go towards paying it back quickly.

Rittwage says they’ve set up concerts in the summer to raise money, and have started a GoFundMe page

“The sooner we can get that paid off, the sooner we can be available for our veterans,” he says. “For our survival we have to reach out.”

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