John and Eleanor Vierra believe so strongly in the power of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 to provide a network of effective support for those who have served America in wars that they decided they needed to make a donation to the post’s building fund.
The size of the donation startled Post Commander Carlon Perry who is credited with taking the organization that was on the verge of having its charter yanked two years ago to the fastest growing VFW Post in the nation.
The amount of the couple’s donation was $10,000.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Perry said. “He’s always been an active supporter.”
As for Vierra who served in the Army during the Korean War, there is little doubt in his mind that his money will be well spent.
“It’s a great program,” Vierra, a 1948 Manteca High graduate said. “It (the VFW) has helped a lot of people.”
Vierra made his donation Thursday during a VFW Post meeting the American Legion Hall. At the same time the Manteca Area Soccer League also made a $2,000 donation.
While the $12,000 will go a long way, the post has to raise $87,000 to put in place a commercial kitchen in the 3,600-quare-foot veterans center the Manteca City Council is building with $1.2 million in bonus bucks — discretionary money given to the city by developers in exchange for sewer allocation certainty for new homes. The veterans also need funds for tables, chairs and other items to furnish the building going up on Moffat Boulevard
To that end, the VFW will be selling memorial bricks for $100 during Sunday’s Memorial Weekend Commemoration event at Woodward Park. The memorial bricks allow a donor to have a message inscribed on them. The bricks will be installed as part of a walk of honor outside the Manteca Veterans Center.
The VFW may get $50,000 from the city on June 2 either in the form of a loan or to put that much toward the commercial kitchen when the Manteca City Council meets next. The money would come from bonus bucks and not the general fund.
The council Tuesday deadlocked 2-2 on whether to provide a loan with Councilwoman Debby Moorhead and Councilman Richard Silverman in favor of it and Mayor Steve DeBrum and Councilman Mike Morowit against it. Councilman Vince Hernandez was not present.
It wasn’t that DeBrum and Morowit are against helping the VFW. Instead of a loan they want the city to cover most of the cost of the commercial kitchen.
The commercial kitchen is critical as the agreement the VFW has with the city requires them to pay for all utilities, upkeep and maintenance much like a similar private-public partnership the city entered into with Big League Dreams after the sports complex was completed. The VFW would rent the building out when it is not being used for post purposes. The commercial kitchen is a critical part of that strategy as well as for use with VFW activities.
The post need to generate between $2,500 and $3,000 a month for ongoing costs related to the building.
Morowit believed given the sacrifice of veterans that asking them to outfit the kitchen for a building that is city-owned although leased to them for their use wasn’t right.
“At the end of the day, what we have gotten (from their service) is substantial,” Morowit said.
DeBrum agreed adding that once the kitchen equipment is installed it legally belongs to the city anyway.
Both Morowit and DeBrum noted they were not veterans.
Silverman, who is a veteran, had a different take. He believed after the original building budget went from $1 million to $1.2 million that adding another $50,000 to the project would not be financially responsible for the city as the money could be used for other endeavors.
Moorhead agreed adding that the VFW already had negotiated for a loan.
Perry, for his part, made it clear the post would be grateful for any help the city could provide either through a loan or outright paying for part or the entire commercial kitchen.
The council voted unanimously to reconsider the matter on June 2 when Hernandez is expected to in attendance.
The building is expected to be completed in time for a July 4 open house