DSO: A challenge for heroes: St. Augusta Post 621 vs. Hastings Post 47

By Ray Kane
Two members of St. Augusta Post 621 came to Department HQ in St. Paul to deliver a check to Department Commander Paul Hassing’s Project, the Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund. Standing with the State Capitol in the background, from left are Post 621 Service Officer Mitch Pelarske, Post 621 Commander Brandon Hanebuth, Assistant Department Service Officer Janet Lorenzo, Hassing and Department Service Officer Ray Kane.

In the heartland of Minnesota, where communities thrive on the spirit of giving, two American Legion posts embarked on a remarkable mission. It all began with a challenge — a challenge to make a difference in the lives of veterans, their families and the entire community.

Mitch Pelarske of St. Augusta Post 621 and Department Historian Chris Anderson of Hastings Post 47, both devoted to the cause of helping veterans, decided to join forces in an extraordinary way. Their vision was simple: to contribute to the Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund (Fund 85) and enhance the support system for veterans in their great state.

The St. Augusta post took the lead, pledging a generous donation of $1,000 every month to Fund 85.

But it didn’t stop there.

The Hastings post, under the stewardship of its gambling manager, Anderson, stepped up with its own commitment of $500 each month.

Together, the resolve of the two posts was unwavering, and they made sure to include these donations as a regular part of their monthly meeting agenda, approved without hesitation.

This collaboration, however, wasn’t just an internal challenge; it is a call to action. The St. Augusta and Hastings posts extended a challenge to other American Legion posts and organizations to do their part in supporting Fund 85.

Their belief in the cause was encouraged by the endorsement of Minnesota American Legion Commander Paul Hassing and Minnesota Sons of The American Legion Commander John Weiss. Both men have Fund 85 as their fundraising projects.

What makes this initiative even more inspiring is the dedication of the American Legion Riders. They have undertaken a four-day ride to raise funds for Fund 85, ensuring that the contributions stay within Minnesota to assist their fellow veterans.

St. Augusta Post 621 Service Officer Mitch Pelarske delivers a $1,000 check to Department Commander Paul Hassing on Jan. 26 as Post 621 Commander Brandon Hanebuth watches.

St. Augusta Post 621’s gratitude for the support they received from the American Legion Assistant Department Service Officer Janet Lorenzo was evident. She played a pivotal role in aiding their cause, and as a gesture of their appreciation, the post commander and gambling manager personally handed her a check for $1,000. Their commitment didn’t stop there; they promised an additional $1,000 each month going forward.

Lorenzo is the lead supervisor of Fund 85. She has poured her heart and soul into the initiative, assisting veterans and their families with financial needs. The work has totaled to more than $325,000 over the life of the fund. If we factor indirect assistance, like pointing a veteran in the right direction, the number climbs north of $800,000.

Her dedication is admirable, but it’s important to remember that even our most dedicated heroes need a break.

The challenge thrown down by St. Augusta and Hastings posts isn’t just about numbers; it’s about the power of unity, compassion and unwavering support for those who have served their country. As these two posts lead the way, they invite us all to reflect on the incredible impact we can make when we join forces for a cause greater than ourselves.

I would like to take a moment to recognize Mitch Pelarske from Post 621 for his exceptional work as a post service officer. Mitch’s dedication to his community and his unwavering commitment to serving our nation’s heroes truly deserve a Bravo Zulu shout out.

What sets Mitch apart is his incredible passion and drive to make a difference, despite not having any formal training as a post service officer. Rather than letting this deter him, Mitch has gone above and beyond to educate himself, spending countless hours seeking guidance from Janet and learning about the responsibilities of the position. His determination to continually improve himself is truly admirable.

Mitch has not only become an integral part of his post, but he has also become a role model for others. His selfless service and genuine care for our veterans and the American Legion have inspired those around him. Mitch’s dedication and love for his community shines through in everything he does.

Please join me in acknowledging Mitch’s outstanding contributions and thanking him for his tireless efforts to support our veterans. Let’s continue to support and learn from Mitch’s example as we strive to make a positive impact in the lives of those we serve.

Well done, Mitch! Bravo Zulu!

Ray Kane is the service officer for the American Legion Department of Minnesota.