Groves-Walker American Legion Post 346 Cmdr. Marya Davis, center, accepts a check for $20,000 from Oakland County presented by County Executive David Coulter, District 21 Oakland County Commissioner Janet Jackson, far right, and others.

Groves-Walker American Legion Post 346 Cmdr. Marya Davis, center, accepts a check for $20,000 from Oakland County presented by County Executive David Coulter, District 21 Oakland County Commissioner Janet Jackson, far right, and others.

Photo provided by Oakland County Executive’s Office


American Legion receives $20,000 grant from Oakland County

Leadership announces forthcoming sale of historic property

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published January 15, 2021

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FARMINGTON — After months of financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Farmington’s Groves-Walker American Legion Post 346, as well as 27 other veterans service organizations, received some much needed financial relief from the county.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter and 12 county commissioners hand delivered checks totaling $530,000 to these organizations through funds provided by the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. The Groves-Walker American Legion received $20,000.

“Oakland County is determined that no one gets left behind in this pandemic. There’s a lot of focus on our businesses and our schools, and they are very important, but there’s a lot of other organizations and individuals that need our help now, and veterans are an important part of our communities,” Coulter said. “We appreciate what they have done for us, and we’re going to do what we can to make sure the spaces where they get support and safety survive this pandemic as well.”

American Legion Cmdr. Marya Davis appreciated the financial support given, but said more important was the acknowledgement from the county that veteran organizations like hers are serving a unique, special population.

“So many of (veterans’) experiences are unique, and can’t be related to just the general public,” she said. “Being able to help us continue on further is so appreciated, but also acknowledging that Oakland County recognized this very special population.”

Half of the $20,000 will be used strictly for utilities of the building and to back-pay staff that had been working for free. The additional funding, Davis said, will be used to erect an exterior shelter that will allow members to reconvene together outdoors and provide a space for leadership to meet and conduct planning meetings safely.

The funding from the county, alongside a $1,000 American Legion National grant, will allow the Legion to keep the lights on until June, Davis anticipates, which fares much better than expecting to have to shutter by February as they originally believed. These funds come on the heels of additional funding and private donations that were given to the Legion by community members last fall.

While the funding allows the Legion to extend the timespan in which they can remain at their historic building, 31775 Grand River Ave., Davis said leadership will unfortunately be putting their current property up for sale and looking for a smaller space to lease or own that will be economically efficient and manageable for the Legion’s future.

 

‘The building does not define us’
The decision to transition to a smaller space, after calling their current site home for the past 71 years was not easy or made lightly, Davis explained. Announcing the news to members was even harder.

“At first I started to feel like a failure when everybody was working so hard to donate money, but this really is the right decision,” she said. “It’s not a failure to make the hard decision, and lean forward and look for something that has more longevity and sustainability.

“I think other leadership may have just gone along until they ran out of money,” she added. “We are so focused on staying alive and vital in this community; that’s why we’re making this decision early.”

The Groves-Walker American Legion began in 1923 in a room at the Farmington Village Water Works building, before moving to the basement of the Farmington State Savings Bank shortly after. A log cabin built in 1924 for the Farmington Village Centennial Celebration was later donated to the Legion as its new home. The Legion moved to a two-story home, where the downtown shopping center currently stands, in 1929, and purchased the land for their current building in 1945. In 1949 construction had been completed, and Legion members have spent the last 71 years there since.

Anytime a community staple has to uproot itself, especially in the climate of the pandemic, is certainly sad, but Davis said none of the Legion’s defining elements will be lost in the shuffle.

“The building does not define us. The Legion mission and the members of the American Legion family, that’s what makes up the American Legion,” she said. “Although the building has been a landmark in the community, it’s the membership of the American and Legion and the mission that define us.”

The current building will have to be sold first in order to finance the transition to a new space, Davis said, but she hopes the Legion can sell the building for a decent amount of money and find a new home in Farmington by this summer.

For more information, visit americanlegionpost346.org.

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