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WENT FROM 60 TO 660

VFW Post 6311 commander stepping down

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WENT FROM 60 TO 660

Carlon Perry, bottom, was the driving force that gave Veterans Post 6311 its first permament home in 75 years. The new home at 580 Moffat Blvd. was dedicated on Veterans Day 2015, top photo.

Bulletin file photo/


POSTED July 31, 2017 1:15 a.m.

Carlon Perry — a former Manteca mayor who led the effort to secure a permanent home for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 and to increase membership 11-fold — is stepping down as post commander today at noon.

Perry, 72, indicated he plans to devote more time to his duties as the recently elected senior vice commander for the VFW District 13 covering San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Calaveras counties that encompasses 22 posts. He is in line to assume the duties as regional commander.

“I feel it is important to our post as well as other posts in District 13 that I put my efforts into assisting all of our district’s posts to be as successful as our Post 6311,” Perry wrote in an email sent to post members Sunday.

Perry tenure as commander of the Jimmie Connors, Gordon Thomson, Brock Elliott VFW post started in 2013 when serious discussions were taking place to shut down the organization due to low meeting attendance and an anemic membership. 

The post — that had gone 75 years at that point with no permanent home — was down to 60 members but only three of four members attended monthly meetings that took place at the commander’s home, the American legion hall, or the MRPS Hall.

Perry decided what was needed was a place the VFW could call home so they could offer services and activities to get existing members more involved and to attract new members.

After exploring a dozen or so places to rent that didn’t pan out, Perry took a step that no one — even himself — could have predicted. In early 2014 he asked his political nemesis, fellow veteran and then Mayor Willie Weatherford to meet him for coffee at the Waffle Shop on North Main Street.

Perry spent 15 minutes explaining what he felt was needed to provide a needed place for veterans to gather and to bolster the organization’s membership. Perry recalled that Weatherford thought it over for a few minutes and then said, “Let’s do it.”

A little more than two years later, Post 6311 dedicated its new home on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2015 at 580 Moffat Boulevard. The $1.6 million, 3,000-square-foot building was built by the city using so-called bonus bucks collected from residential developers in exchange for sewer allocation certainty. The project dubbed the Moffat Community Center by the city was leased to the VFW for $1 a year. It then was rechristened as the Manteca Veterans Center to make it clear the facility would strive to make various services accessible to all veterans and not just those that served during wartime.

The project also marked one of the quickest turnarounds for a city endeavor.

Perry then led an effort to raise more than $100,000 to install a commercial kitchen and equip the building.

At the same time membership started growing as Perry and fellow VFW members launched a campaign based on the promise of making more services accessible to Manteca area veterans and providing a place for them to simply drop by and socialize.

The membership of 60 back in 2013 has grown to 660 today. Manteca was recognized nationally four consecutive years as the nation’s fastest growing VFW posts.

The Manteca post embraced the national VFW Legacy program that is essentially an endowment for local VFW posts. Post 6311 has 90 Legacy members as of June. That made them No. 1 in the world for members topping a post in The Philippines that has 87 Legacy members.

The local post has also earned All State Post honors from the California VFW as well as All American Post honors at the national level.

The post home is used to host a variety of monthly activities including a VA healthcare van, monthly meetings with Social Security representatives, VA Veterans Center Combat services, and Rivers of Recovery Combat Veterans Fishing Program among others.

The post is also open weekdays to allow members to drop-in and socialize.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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