American Legion Auxiliary struggling to survive
The fight to stay afloat continues for the Minneota American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.
“We’re aging out,” said President Sandy Josephson, referring to the need for younger members to join the group.
Longtime member Delores Seifert, who was the Auxiliary Treasurer, recently passed away. Amanda Engels has now assumed the duties of treasurer, as well as being in charge of memberships.
Josephson and Engels have been trying to hold the auxiliary together as best they can while hoping for an increase of active members. “A lot of units are closing,” Josephson said.
“We don’t want to close our unit, but we definitely need more help.”
American Legions are referred to as posts, while auxiliaries are referred to as units.
The Minneota Auxiliary is Unit 199 and is affiliated with the District 7 Auxiliary.
“It is to honor the memory of our members that have passed away that I continue to help Sandy,” said Engels.
“She is such an inspiration.”
“I also know that I wish I could do more for the military that did so much for me, and continue to work for my family’s safety and well-being. That makes my membership fee worth it.”
Josephson’s mother, Marlene Josephson, was the Minneota Auxiliary President for many years.
In 2010, Marlene’s health was failing so she and Lucille Vlaminck became co-presidents.
When Marlene passed away in 2012, Vlaminck took over the role of presidency alone for two years.
In 2014, Vlaminck and Sandy Josephson became co-presidents. When Vlaminck passed away two years ago, it left a huge void in the Auxiliary.
“Like my mom, Lucille said there was no way she would let the Auxiliary fold,” Josephson told.
“Lucille was really a bulldog when it came to selling poppies and being involved in other ways with the Auxiliary. And she paid for the memberships of several people.”
The non-profit Auxiliary raises money to send a Minneota junior to Girls State, to give to local causes, and to assist veteran causes.
They recently gave a donation to the Veterans Park project.
Although no Minneota junior was interested in participating in Girls State this year, the Auxiliary had already raised and sent in the necessary $300 fee.
So Josephson called around to see if anyone was interested in another city and eventually the Auxiliary sponsored Amanda Mathiason of Willmar.
“She sent us a thank you card and told us how much her life was changed by the experience of going to Girls State,” Josephson recalled.
The Auxiliary also raises money for these causes through poppy sales, as well as an annual salad luncheon on the fourth Thursday in April at the Senior Center.
But because of the declining number of active members, the Auxiliary has been co-sponsoring the luncheon with the Senior Center, with each group sharing the profits.
“We also have one of the slots at the burger feed during Boxelder Bug Days,” said Josephson.
The Auxiliary currently has 35 members, but only a few of them are active members.
The other board member besides Josephson and Engels is Marilyn Russell, who is the secretary.
Many of the members live out of state, but are still connected to the area and continue to pay the membership fee, which is now $25 per year.
“I love to support the Auxiliary because they have great educational programs, including Girls State and scholarships at the state and national levels available to members,” Engels said.
“We support veteran programs that not only help to pay medical costs, but support vets emotionally and educationally, too.”
Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a junior member and the fee is only $5. The Minneota-based Auxiliary currently has one or two junior members, but would like to get more involved.
“I have been a member since at least ninth grade as a junior member,” said Engels, whose daughters Sophie and Sara have both participated in Girls State sponsored by the Auxiliary.
“My dad was in Vietnam and my mom got us involved in supporting him, too.”
“My mom has had continuous membership of 25 years and my sister is at 17 years of continuous membership.”
History of the Ladies Auxiliary
The American Legion Ladies Auxiliary was founded in 1919 and now boasts over one million members, making it the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization.
There are over 10,000 units from every state and some countries.
Its mission statement is: In the spirit of service, not self, the mission of the Auxiliary is to support the American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military and their families, both at home and abroad.
For God and country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.
The Minneota Auxiliary was chartered in June of 1925 and started with 22 members.
Joining the Ladies Auxiliary
Membership in the American Legion Auxiliary shall be limited to the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives and direct and adopted female descendants of member of the American Legion, and to the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives and direct and adoptive female descendants of all men and women who were in the Armed Forces of the United States during any of the following periods and died in the line of duty during such service, or who, having received an Honorable Discharge, died after service.
“Many of our area residents are eligible to become a member despite a common belief that very few can be included,” Engels noted. “It doesn’t hurt to ask or look online for eligibility requirements.”
“We don’t ask for much time or money. I know every club says that, but this really true with the Auxiliary. Do what you can. We appreciate all time and tokens of support.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the Auxiliary or to join should contact Amanda Engels at 507-872-6234.