Hernando Sun Writer
Retirees Ron Ford and Dennis Blum spoke enthusiastically last week about their 100-member strong Glen Lakes Veterans & Friends Association. Founded just three years ago by the two Army veterans and George Friel, a retired Army major general, the organization began with only eight members.
"We started Glen Lakes Veterans & Friends Association to help out Chapter 67 of the local Disabled American Veterans (DAV). They were in need of operating funds. They needed a new building and the chapter was about to fold," Blum commented.
Being avid golfers, the group decided to hold a golf outing to raise money for the DAV chapter. They solicited sponsors to help fund the event. Through their tireless efforts and the assistance of local businesses, they raised $8,000 for the Disabled American Veterans.
The following year Glen Lakes Golf and Country Club generously offered the use of their golf course free of charge, so the association was able to net a much larger amount for the DAV. The golf outing raised $20,000. Last year was even more successful with a total of $29,000 raised.
Now that the Glen Lakes Veterans & Friends Association has grown, they want to expand to help other veteran organizations throughout Citrus, Pasco, and Hernando counties. In order to do this, they have filed papers to become a 501c3 corporation.
"There are more than 100,000 veterans in Hernando, Pasco, and Citrus," Ford stated. Many of the American Legions, DAVs and other veterans organizations have difficulty raising funds. Their numbers are dwindling because the older veterans are dying and younger veterans aren't joining these groups to replenish the membership."
The Association has no operating expenses because they have no paid staff and no building to maintain. All the members volunteer their time and resources. Because of this, all the proceeds can be channeled to these veterans groups.
The Glen Lakes Veterans & Friends Association also participates in Wreaths Across America each December. They place Christmas wreaths at the veterans’ cemetery (Florida National Cemetery) in Bushnell. Ten of the members took part in this event this past year.
The group meets monthly at the Glen Lakes Country Club at 9:00 a.m. Each month they host speakers from the community. Past speakers have included County Commissioner Wayne Dukes and Kara Evans with Elder Law. Their next meeting will be held on Thursday, May 2. One of the guest speakers will be Amber Slusser from the YMCA of the Suncoast, who will be sharing the good work the YMCA does in our community. Ray O' Connell, the leader of the local Coast Guard Auxiliary will also be at the meeting to discuss the Auxiliary's activities and services.
This year's Nature Coast Veterans Golf Outing promises to be bigger and better than in past years. It will take place on November 11 at Glen Lakes Country Club. The group is looking for corporate sponsors and for players to participate in the golf outing. In the past, such businesses as Access Health Care and Florida Tax Advisors have been sponsors. Companies can opt for a Patron Sponsorship for a $1,000 donation, a Corporate Sponsorship for a $500 donation or a Hole Sponsorship for a donation of $300. If you sign up to play before June 30th you'll get an "early-bird" rate of $65. The cost after that is $75. Each player gets a "goody bag" containing gift certificates and other items. The winners will get trophies. Afterwards, there will be a buffet along with a "silent auction" of donated items.
To sign up for the golf outing or to be a corporate sponsor or for more information on the Glen Lakes Veterans & Friends Association go to their website at www.glenlakesvets.org. You can also contact Denny Blum at 352-200-8649 or Ron Ford at 906-291-0587.