They say behind every good man is a better woman. But in the Smithers Legion’s case it is more like 20 women. The Ladies Auxiliary (LA) has been helping to support the local legion for almost fifty consecutive years.
The sole purpose of the Ladies Auxiliary is to assist a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in carrying out its work on behalf of veterans and their families.Local auxiliary president Drenna White said they support the branch financially and by helping out wherever they are needed.
“In order to do that, we raise money by catering memorials, parties and Christmas is really busy,” she said. “We’ve got every weekend booked up in November and December for Christmas parties and of course people pay us for that. And once a year we do something that isn’t for the branch, we have a raffle to raise money for a bursary for high school students.”
White has been involved for about seven years.
“I thought it was a good way to help the community out. I had a friend who invited me to be a member, so I said sure and the next thing I know I’m running the raffle and now I’m the president. It is good to give back and the Legion does a lot of good work.”
White said they have a good group of ladies who work well together. They raise about $10,000 a year for the local branch.
“Our group is very active, we do catering all the time. When they put in the new sound system, we helped pay for that, we helped pay for the new tables and chairs and sometimes we help pay the taxes,” she said.
The Ladies Auxiliary has not always been active. It started when the Legion in Smithers started but disbanded in 1960.
Auxiliary secretary and deputy zone commander for the area Jean Groenink said it was running but they didn’t have enough women involved so they had to turn their charter in.
“There wasn’t enough ladies in the group and no one wanted to run for office,” she said. “If you can’t get your president, you can’t continue. A lady moved here from Houston and she worked on getting it started again in 1969, she got some of the original women back in and since then we’ve been working really hard to keep it going.”
The problem now is the members are aging out.
“We are always looking for more women, especially for younger ones; most of us are in our 70s and 80s,” said White.
“We used to have about 40 members and now we are down to 20,” added Groenink. “Our youngest member is probably in her 50s and we have two that are in their 90s. The older ones don’t do as much anymore so it falls to a small group of people who do everything.”
Groenink has been involved for 26 years and added it is a cause close to her heart.
“I belong to the Legion as well, but I’m more favoured to the LA because we work to help the branch, it is a cause that we are working towards, something for the veterans.”
They meet once a month and White said they have a good group with seven or eight women showing up regularly.