Renovation work at Upper Keys VFW Post 10211 is on track with plans to welcome patrons in November.
Under new leadership, the post is moving forward with a fresh, reinvigorated look. Jason Kendall, a retired Marine Corps major, took leadership of the post back in May along with four other veterans. It came after the post went into a steep decline.
“The previous commands made decisions like lowering the price of drinks to get more people to come in,” Kendall said. “It just kind of spiraled downward.”
In order to keep the good name of the VFW, Kendall said, the post was closed months ago to remodel and open up as a new place. With $6,000 to $8,000 in donations, members are doing everything possible to stretch the dollars.
“We just put up drywall,” he said. “I’m trying to get a working party this weekend to help paint all the walls inside. We have a contractor booked to put in all the lights for us.”
State Attorney and Post Commander Dennis Ward said Kendall and his band of volunteers, namely Marines, have done a wonderful job. He noted that donations from those in the community have helped to expedite the project. Overall, Ward said, the post will be more upscale and cleaner, with no smoking allowed.
“This will be a place that members will be proud of, and other VFW members coming from all over the country will have a place in the Keys to mingle,” he said. “There will be a vet or two sitting in the restaurant or at the bar. Sit down with them and thank them for their service.”
Kendall said Nov. 10 is the intended opening, but that may be delayed based on work that’s left and the help available.
“My hope is that it’s an establishment the veterans can be proud of, and they’re not ashamed to bring in friends and family,” he said. “It’s going to be a new VFW. The old VFW is gone.”
Kendall singled out two veterans for their work in bringing back the post. Kendall said Russ Ellis, a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran, is the hardest working man he’s seen. John Donnelly, a disabled Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, has donated 10 times more than anyone else to the cause.
“They chose to give to the VFW because they believe in what it is,” Kendall said.
For more information about donating to the VFW’s renovations, please contact Jason Kendall at 808-679-7187.
By Jim McCarthy