It has been a decade since Michael Kerr and other veterans started fundraising to reconstruct a new pavilion at VFW Post 7679 in Mantua.
Those plans were halted by a gushing wind storm last month. Kerr, who has been the post commander for the last two years, recalls where he was when he got the news.
“I was picking up the furniture on my deck because the storm blew all of my furniture upside down and I then got a phone call,” said Kerr.
Just as Kerr was on his way to the post, other volunteers witnessed the collapse of the partially built structure while they were getting ready to close everything down.
Last Friday, April 9, a team of volunteers disassembled what the storm had left behind. Everything was still attached except for the beams. Each truss also had to be taken out one by one. Only five were not usable.
The VFW post, also known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, was originally built to give returning war veterans a safe place to talk and get legal services. It is now involved with local schools as well as Boy and Girl Scouts.
“It has since turned into a place that is a part of the community,” Kerr explained.
Once built, the new pavilion is scheduled to host many community events in Mantua.
Volunteers are currently waiting on direction from the structural engineer and architect. They will let them know what structural changes are needed so that the pavilion can withstand future storms.
Kerr, who is 58, notes that the worst thing about the whole situation is that he along with the other volunteers aren’t getting any younger.
“I’m building this at 58, the one guy who is younger than me is 55, and the rest of them are in their 70s and 80s,” Kerr said.
The Home Depot in Mantua will be able to provide materials through their volunteer program “The Home Depot Foundation,” once a new plan is formulated.
On Monday, March 29, a Mantua VFW Pavilion Relief fund was launched through GoFundMe. So far $9,620 of the $30,000 goal has been raised. While funds continue to be raised via GoFundMe, Kerr notes how kind people in the neighborhood have been to him and the other volunteers.
“There are people that are all over the community, who are walking in and saying, hey here is $1,000, here is $500.”
To make a donation, visit the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/community-pavilion-relief-fund.