Adam Smart, Officer-in-Charge, Coast Guard Station Boothbay Harbor looked around the American Legion hall at breakfast on Sunday morning, Jan. 27 and spoke about the local residents whose contributions have supported his fellow service members during the government shutdown.
“We always knew this was a special community,” he said. “But we’ve been taken aback by the outpouring of support. It’s overwhelming. A simple ‘thank you’ is not going to cut it.”
Smart and his daughter Allison joined more than 100 area residents who left warm homes on a cold morning for the breakfast the American Legion sponsored. Some arrived solo, others in groups of friends, family members and neighbors in an outpouring of support for the Coast Guard members.
The two-hour breakfast raised $2,000 and included one check for $500. Chief Bosun’s Mate Smart said it’s impossible to thank everyone. “There are so many people I’ll never meet,” he said of those donating.
American Legion Post 36 Commander David Patch greeted guests as they arrived. “The community has come together so well to fill the gap,” he said. The national American Legion organization has offered $1,500 grants for all Coast Guard enlisted men and women with children, he added.
“We recognized that we all had to step up within a couple of weeks after Washington demonstrated their inability to get their act together,” Patch said.
Smart, a New Hampshire native, has been at the Boothbay Harbor station for three years. He praised the American Legion, saying it “worked around the clock to process applications for the $1,500 grants.”
He also credited his crew. “They did a fantastic job of staying focused. I’m extremely proud of how everyone handled it and their level of readiness.”
Smart realizes that, although the shutdown has ended for now, the problem could be back again in three weeks. “We’re treating it as if it’s going to happen again. Then we’ll be right back where we started.”
Sharon Machon of Boothbay Harbor was working behind the scenes at the breakfast. She retired from the Coast Guard almost 29 years ago. “We usually do these breakfasts in the summer,” she said. “It’s very nice to see so many people turn out in the middle of winter.”
Sitting across the table from each other, Nancy Gaecklein and Roberta Bryer, both from Boothbay Harbor, said the conversation at their table reflected a range of political views but everyone agreed they were glad the shutdown was over and that it was nice to donate to the Coast Guard.
Lisa and Ben Rankins of Boothbay Harbor saw a Facebook post about the event and called their friends.
American Legion Post 36 has 145 members and serves the towns on the peninsula. The recently reactivated auxiliary organization has eight members and is looking for more. To join the American Legion, those applying must have been in service during a period of war and honorably discharged or still serving honorably.
“We’re part of the community,” said Patch, pointing out the many programs the Legion supports. Among these are the Girls State and Boys State weeks for high school students, a scholarship program and a Boy Scout troop.
The post will kick off a capital campaign seeking to raise $75,000 to replace the air conditioning and floor in the 20-year old hall, which also serves as a gathering place for many private and public events.
For more information about joining the American Legion or the auxiliary, or making a contribution, contact Patch at 751-5672 or DAPatch@roadrunner.com