Weekly Feature



2018-11-08 / Front Page

Salvatore pledges $50,000 toward restoring veterans’ posts

by NICK KONOTOPSKYJ
Reporter

Veterans across Erie County have been raising money with a “Flag Fundraiser” by selling paper flags for a dollar each at the Erie County Auto Bureaus. The posts have set a preliminary goal of $100,000 in order to begin a couple of immediate projects.

After the posts successfully reached their first goal of $10,000, Russell Salvatore pledged an additional $50,000 toward the Veteran Post Restoration of Erie County.

Salvatore announced the pledge on Nov. 1 at the Frank L. Gierlach American Legion Post 1320 when he was presented with a “Milestone Flag” from Veteran Post Restoration.

Salvatore is the first person to receive a Milestone Flag due to all of the work he has done for veterans in Western New York. His efforts include building the Heroes & Patriots Park in front of his restaurant on Transit Road and for providing a fleet of vehicles to transport veterans for the Veterans Affairs

Medical Center.

It was announced that the first $10,000 that was raised will go toward replacing the electrical system inside the F.J. Donovan American Legion Post 1626 in Cheektowaga.

“Through the years, we have been using the Band-Aid approach to keep our post operating,” said Jerry Kowalski, Donovan Post commander. “It’s now time to replace the electric panels, circuit breakers and lights in order to accommodate today’s increased use of technology.”

With Salvatore’s donation of $50,000, that puts the total amount of money raised at $60,000 and more than half way toward that $100,000 goal.

“When Mickey [Kearns] was an assemblyman, one of the posts came to him about getting help for the post. So we went and got the [American Institute of Architects] to come in and conduct a two-year study for free at each veteran post,” said Mike Billoni of Billoni Associates. “These veterans were asking how all of these needs will be addressed. It’s just like eating an elephant. One bite at a time, and today marks that first bite.”

It was also announced that the next project will go toward handicapped-accessible bathrooms and additions inside the Frank L. Gierlach American Legion Post 1320 in Sloan.

“By making the restrooms handicapped-accessible, they will be able to accommodate current members and also attract new members,” said Gary Oakes from the Gierlach post. “The efforts of people like Russ Salvatore help and support our aging veterans in Western New York who have served and sacrificed for the freedom of our country.”

The Veterans Post Restoration of Erie County, NY Inc., is a not-for-profit comprising the American Legion, AMVETS, 40&8, Marine Corps League and VFW posts around Erie County that are working collaboratively to address their shared needs.

Their goal is to repair and upgrade the posts in order to pass them down to the next generation of veterans.

email: nickk@beenews.com

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