The two story building in downtown Kansas City, Mo., stands dark and comatose like a patient in intensive care. But special caretakers are working feverishly to give it new life. Once it was a vibrant commercial structure most recently as a successful shoe store.
Currently it is the site of nascent AMVETS Post 181 hopefully, the future home of a USO type facility that will offer active military and veterans a recreation and entertainment facility.
Such is the dream of Missouri Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Don Ballard, who owns the building but has been waging an uphill battle in making his dream a reality.
The building at 1519 Main Street has been stripped to its bare walls and all unnecessary items and debris removed.. Now expensive Kansas City codes must be addressed involving engineering tests along with expenses for modern plumbing, electricity, fire protection and heating and cooling. Start up is estimated at $250,000.
Last Saturday scores of volunteers conducted a fundraiser in the Post’s parking lot. It was first class in scope with musicians and entertainers giving of their time along with vendors and citizens providing donated food, beverages and scores of items for a silent auction.
The local television news stations answered the call from a Post press release that read, "Veterans Need Help."
So many concomitant Post volunteers turned the fundraiser into a reality like Mark Miller of the Combat Veterans Association and Scott Adams, an electrician who never served in the military but has given hours of his talented time to the cause.
And VFW member Lynn Rolf came from Leavenworth, Kan., to successfully bid $80 for my 9/11 Shankesville memorabilia and my book.
The veterans waited but the public never came in large numbers for whatever the reason.
Post Commander, Spencer Hardin, a Navy veteran and now a home contractor and developer from Northeast Kansas City, is leading a small dedicated cadre of volunteers in refurbishing the building.
While Hardin was disappointed in the small turnout he remains optimistic.
"I have renewed hope now that we have a new board of directors, more volunteers and a united effort to seek the next level. We will pursue foundations, grants, entrepreneurs and sponsors so that we can build this unique Midwest military facility."
Colonel Ballard agrees, "We need this facility and we will make it happen."
I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.