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Donna Turner 'keeping veterans alive' through legion volunteering

Volunteering at the legion to support Canada's veterans
2019-08-30Donna TurnerMK
Donna Turner, volunteering at the Bradford Legion's Friday Night social dinner. Miriam King/Bradford Today

The Bradford Branch 521 of the Royal Canadian Legion has plenty of members, but not all of them step up and volunteer, helping to run the many programs and activities hosted at the hall, at 115 Back St.

Donna Turner has been a member for 33 years, ever since moving to Bradford – and a volunteer with the legion for almost that full time.

“My parents were both in the Second World War,” Turner said. “They were always legion, and involved. I just grew up in a legion atmosphere.”

Turner has not only volunteered, she has been an executive at the branch for 16 years – serving as Ways & Means chair, chair of honours and awards, VP of membership, first vice president, second vice.

On average, she contributes up to 20 hours a week of volunteer hours at the legion, currently helping out at the Friday night dinners and organizing the annual Honours and Awards ceremony coming up on Sept. 15 – “The pins and the letters sent out, and going to get the trophies and plaques,” she explained. 

Turner was at Carrot Fest manning the legion booth, and helps out on euchre nights.

It’s a commitment and there are “no perks,” she acknowledged; legion volunteers pay for their own meals and drinks.

Turner identifies strongly with the goals of the Royal Canadian Legion. “It’s because we’re respecting our veterans and keeping our veterans alive – in our memory and in real life,” she said.

The legion not only organizes the local Remembrance Day dinner, wreath-laying services and parade, but the Remembrance Day poetry, essay and poster contests in the schools, and supports veterans through a number of initiatives, and its poppy fund - including support for Southlake Regional Health Centre and Sunnybrook Health Science Centre's Veterans Program. 

Then there are the youth programs : the bursaries, track and field, air cadets. The legion has a long list of charitable activities and programs.

“The main thing we do have is a veterans’ affairs (VA) officer,” Turner said. The VA officer reaches out to veterans, active and retired, and their families, providing any assistance needed.

“They don’t have to be a legion member” to get help,” said Turner – just call contact the officer.

She is carrying on the family tradition. Daughter Mandy is an active member and volunteer, and “my granddaughter has helped in the kitchen since the age of five and now she’s in the air cadets," said Turner.

“It makes me proud.”