Onset's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in danger of closing

Committee forms to raise funds, prevent sale of building
By Matthew Bernat | Sep 14, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Without help, the Dudley L. Brown VFW in Onset is in danger of closing by the end of this year.

Through the years, the Dudley L. Brown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post has always been more than just a place where veterans gather.

Rallies, fundraisers, barbecues, family reunions, water district meetings and even the occasional wedding have been held at the property, located at 4 Gibbs Ball Park.

But now, that community hub is in danger of closing for good.

“We are in a desperate time right now,” said Paul Rose, the VFW’s bar manager. “By the end of the year, if we don’t see an improvement we’ll have to take some action…We’re struggling to pay our bills.”

Dwindling membership, fewer customers frequenting the VFW’s lounge and a dip in rentals have put the organization in dire straits financially, Rose said. Onset’s struggles mirror those of neighboring towns, including Marion, Fairhaven and Carver, where VFWs were shuttered for similar reasons.

However, a small group of VFW supporters came together two months ago to keep it open.

Calling themselves the “Keep Our Onset VFW Alive Committee,” six people are now planning monthly fundraisers. Proceeds will go to paying insurance costs, license renewals, utility bills and more.

The first fundraiser, a dance held the night before this year’s Cape Verdean Festival, brought in $5,000, said Larry Senna, a committee member.

“If we want this place to survive, we have to come together,” Senna said. “We don’t want to see it close.”

Senna said the VFW’s financial woes became apparent a few months ago. At the time, VFW officers reached out to the district leadership to explore their options. Without financial support, Senna said the club will be forced to shut down at the end of this year.

Joining Senna on the committee is Lynne Spinola, who bartends in the lounge. As cousins, Senna and Spinola grew up on Gibbs Ball Park Road. In addition to saving the property for the community, both said they have personal reasons for raising funds.

“When our mothers said to go out and play, we went out to the VFW field,” recalled Senna. “That was our backyard. It’s a piece of our childhood.”

For Spinola, saving the VFW means saving it in part for her father, Anthony. At 85, he’s one of the VFW's oldest members and someone who still does what he can to keep the building together.

“It would be really sad if it closed,” Spinola said. “It’s near and dear to him, and he still goes and fixes anything that needs fixing.”

From behind the bar, Spinola said she has noticed a steep decline in customers compared to last year. Bar sales and rentals are how the VFW makes the majority of its income, Rose said.

With both on the decline, Rose noted the upcoming fundraisers are essential to prevent the sale of the building.

“We’re going to give it a good shot with the help of our friends,” said Rose. “If we close, that would be heartbreaking. Everyone who has given us a hand, their parents are the ones that built this.”

To support the VFW, check its Facebook page for upcoming fundraisers or visit during Wednesday night dinners. Dinner costs $8 and doors open at 6 p.m.

The VFW bar is open Thursday through Sunday starting at 1 p.m.

For more information on the VFW, call 774-678-0479. To donate, mail checks made out to "Dudley L. Brown VFW" to Dudley L. Brown Post 2846 VFW, PO Box 106, Onset MA 02558.

Comments (1)
Posted by: bruce gannon | Sep 15, 2017 07:00

For 3 winters the post was my studio for Feel The Music Live. It would be a shame to see this great facility be lost to the town and more important, the local veterans. Indoors or out it's a terrific venue.

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