With a little help from a local benefactor, the city is investing in new signage that will assist veterans in finding their way to the local legion on Ormond Street.
During a July 11 City Council meeting, local legion member Ken Smalko took to the podium to explain how a few signs could make a world of difference.
“With the city growing, how many people actually know we have a legion branch in the city,” he asked councillors. “These signs will put the legion in the forefront.”
Smalko and his wife Jeannie Soper have been instrumental in getting homeless veterans off the streets, through a program they run out of Thorold Legion Branch 17.
‘Operation: Leave the Streets Behind’ is a Canada-wide initiative that wants to ensure that every veteran who is homeless or near homelessness finds the help they need.
Among the assistance provided is housing, medical attention, food, utility payments, as well as addiction recovery programs.
By installing new signage throughout the city, Smalko hopes to reach more homeless veterans.
“All they might need is a trigger to ask for help,” he said. “They might just see a street sign and then they present themselves at the branch.”
The increased signage would also raise awareness for the legion and could potentially inject the organization with some fresh blood.
“The more community members we get in the legion, the more funds we raise, the more projects we can perform to help our veterans,” said Smalko. “We have the potential of getting new members and new members will bring new volunteer opportunities for the legion to expand. Every single sign that you provide is a snowball effect.”
When the Rolling Meadows Corporation heard about the legion's request, they reached out to the city to offer funding for the signage.
“It’s a good news story,” said Councillor Henry D’Angela, during last week’s city council meeting. “Someone in the community stepped up and is making a donation to purchase the signs that are going to be located throughout our community, identifying the legion.”
The costs for the installation of the signs is estimated to be around $1,200 and will come out of the city’s 2023 Operations Budget.
Councillor D’Angela would like the city to consider installing more signage for other community groups as well.
“Nothing better than driving down Thorold Stone Road, coming into Thorold, and having some actually good signage indicating the City of Thorold and some of the great local community groups that we have,” he said.