Since 1939, Charles A. Conklin American Legion Post 28 of Grand Haven, Mich., has served thousands of dinners to veterans, veterans’ families and the general public. The post’s weekly dinner program serves two important functions: raising revenues for the post’s veteran and community outreach programs, and bringing friends and family together to “break bread” and enjoy camaraderie over a delicious meal. On June 15, 2020, local government officials, including the mayor and city manager of Grand Haven, Chamber of Commerce representatives, the Post 28 commander, officers and staff, and Post 28 Family-Unit representatives participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony presented by the Chamber of Commerce (Grand Haven Spring Lake Ferrysburg). The ceremony symbolized the transitioning of Post 28 into the next century with a new state-of-the-art kitchen. Given COVID-19 conditions, the chamber’s ribbon-cutting was not typical by any means. Safety protocols, including the use of face masks and social distancing, were required and followed.
The Post 28 kitchen renovation project - officially titled “Operation KP (Kitchen Project)” - began as a vision in 2019. Implementation began in early 2020. Two committees - coordinated by Post 28 Commander Janet E. Fonger during the implementation phase - were formed: a kitchen renovation committee and kitchen fundraising committee. The kitchen renovation committee was charged with providing contractors the vision and details about the post’s kitchen look and function while the fundraising committee was charged with raising the needed funds to bring the project to fruition. The initial fundraising goal was $200,000. However, the age of the kitchen (last renovated in 1945) in conjunction with contemporary building code requirements found Post 28 needing to raise additional funds. Donors included Legionnaires, businesses, Family-Unit members, and the general public. Post 28 Commander Fonger obtained a Home Depot Foundation grant in the amount of $20,000, while the Post 28 SAL Squadron and Auxiliary donated $30,000 and $10,000, respectively. In sum, the fundraising committee raised more than $200,000 with net overages placed into the post’s Capital Fund for future capital projects. With all working together for a common goal, Post 28 now enjoys greater kitchen capacity, efficiency and expanded food offerings.