Volunteers help renovate Wheaton VFW post ahead of Veterans Day

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Friday, November 10, 2023
Volunteers help renovate Wheaton VFW post
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Volunteers from all walks of life teamed up Thursday to make some much needed renovations to a Wheaton VFW post.

WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- Volunteers from all walks of life teamed up Thursday to make some much needed renovations to a Wheaton VFW post.

Ahead of Veterans Day weekend, former service members said there are just no words to express how grateful they are for the repairs.

"They've done everything for us," said Shirley Vega, secretary of the VFW Auxiliary. "Some of them have given up their lives for us, and the least we can do is try to support them in any way that we can."

The support came in the form of a team of nearly 60 highly motivated volunteers united in making critical repairs and restorations to the nearly 100-year-old Wheaton VFW post.

"It's very important for our veterans and nobody does more for our veterans than the VFW," community volunteer Eric Wassell said.

The project was made possible by a $15,000 grant from the Home Depot.

Volunteers filled potholes, replaced ceiling tiles inside, adjusted interior light fixtures and more.

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"To see the camaraderie in the community, to build the community up and say, 'hey look, we're here and we're here to help the community, more than just veterans,' right?" Army veteran John Molenda said.

Molenda now works for the Home Depot and helped spearhead the project.

The repairs his team of volunteers made to the VFW is personal to him as it is his post.

"It's a place for camaraderie where you feel safe to be at, as well," Molenda said. "Sometimes veterans don't have a place to go outside of their home when they come back from service."

VFW Post 2164 commander Leo Penkala served in the army infantry.

"It's a great feeling to know that we're still appreciated in the area," Penkala said.

He said the post was built by World War I veterans in 1931 and that the Home Depot's grant is helping the VFW save money for the people that need it most.

"They are literally saving the day right now," Penkala said. "We use a lot of our funds for helping veterans, whether they need a phone bill paid or an electric bill paid, or they need transportation to and from medical appointments."

With Veterans Day right around the corner, Penkala shared a personal message.

"Just know that when you see a veteran, maybe just appreciate that they actually did some service, and just because you don't see them with a cane or a prosthetic, probably he or she is carrying a wound with them somewhere," Penkala said.