New York Mid-Winter Conference

An array of topics from Americanism and baseball to membership and PR;
Post 229 members participate in a number of concurrent sessions

Feb. 2, 2012 -- Utica Post 229 actively participated in the New York Department Mid-Winter Conference held Jan. 27-29 in Albany.

Representing the post were Chris Urban, Len Lascala, Jim George, Jim Haggerty, Jack LaPaglia, Paul Wojcik, Tony Palladino, Dave Wilson and Bob Stronach.

The Auxiliary sent Pat Dodge and Peggie Kohler to the Auxiliary conference. Other auxiliary members also were in Albany -- Rosetta LaPagalia, Gail Greco, Roe Haggerty and Donna Wojcik

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"I went to the membership seminar on Saturday morning with Jack LaPaglia, Jim Haggerty, Jim George and Len Lascala," noted Commander Chris Urban. "The meeting focused on how to successfully use MyLegion.org as a tool to manage membership and accomplish administrative changes in member records. Awards were given to those posts who achieved 100% membership for 2012 by Dec 31, 2011… This meeting lasted all morning and had well over 100 atendees."

Membership Chair LaPaglia took in both the Friday evening and Saturday membership seminars. "I learned that the American Legion extension course, on-line version, is coming this spring, which is a must for all incoming membership chairmen. Also Department Commander Bowen has a special pin for those who sign up five new members…The push is on to get members familiar with my legion .com. A lot can be done on that site…I found it very informative, and quite interesting."

Urban also went to the Compliance Seminar Saturday afternoon. "It lasted for nearly two hours, and a speaker for the NY State Gaming Board went over all the requirements for gaming  (including raffles, bingo, Queen of Hearts, casino nights, Bell Jar, etc.). I learned that Post 229 does a really good job complying with the rules and regulations."

In addition to membership, Vice Commander George "popped in and out of" several of the other concurrent seminars, spending a little time in each. "I was basically trying to take in as much as possible to get a feel for how everything works."

Vice Commander Lascala participated in a couple of afternoon seminars following the morning membership session. "The first was in regards to the Family Support Network and Heroes to Hometowns. Both programs are for the assistance of returning veterans or supporting their families when they are called to active duty. The department chairman, Don Linborg, reviewed both programs and encouraged local legion posts to become involved. The other afternoon session was for Americanism. The scheduled speaker could not make the program so it was cut short. They briefly touched on the aspects of Americanism and on how legion posts could do more for their communities."

Past Commander Tony Palladino attended both the morning and afternoon Americanism sessions. He took particular note of "how important the consolidated report is" and "also the flag rewards program -- a program where posts can raise funds." He said some two million flags are sold each year, and that the American Legion annually sells 41,000. "There is a market."

Palladino said he found the baseball seminar "very informative" as they went over rules, changes, insurance, and dates for both senior and junior teams. He also made it to the "legionnaire of the year" seminar, which reviewed guidelines for the award.

"Overall I found my sessions very informative," he said.

Chaplain and Law-and-Order Chair Paul Wojcik attended the seminar on conventions, where "updated guidelines for hosting a Department Convention were passed out, including updated housing forms, pre-convention registration forms for color guards, and guidelines for legion, auxiliary, and SAL." Binghamton reported it cost $65,000 to host the last convention, he said, and with Rochester hosting the 2012 convention, "the legion will be housed at the Radisson Hotel, the Auxiliary at the Hyatt Regency, and the SAL at the Rochester Plaza." He noted that all the activities "will be under one roof so no traveling will be necessary." Niagara Falls has bid on the 2013 convention and Albany has put in a bid for 2014.

At the Law and Order seminar, Wojcik said, Chairman Charles Hill passed out Law & Order forms and explained qualificatons for each category including firefighter, EMT, police, corrections officers as well as other categories. He also stated that the only categories that are sent on to national competition are police and firefighters. "Several Districts including our own 5th district were commended on their participation in the program. Utica Post in particular was mentioned for honoring Utica Police on their 150th anniversary as a full time police department."

At the Children and Youth seminar, Wojcik said, "kits were passed out containing DVDs and information" on programs aimed at military families and their young children. "One DVD centers on deployments, homecomings and changes in the family," and "the second DVD centers on 'When Families Grieve'." The DVDS were produced by Sesame Street.

Service Officer Dave Wilson took part in VA benefits and service-officer-related seminars. "I went to the service officers meeting Friday night where some 60 people were in attendance," he said. "Many items were discussed. On Saturday morning, I attended a special meeting for department officers and district service officers only. Roll call was taken. Future of the services to be given to our legionaires was discussed, along with several other items. At 09:30 an open meeting took place. Dept service officers gave their reports, which consisted of numbers of cases (claims) and problems associated with any being processed. One service officer was from Buffalo and the other one was from New York City. At this time, I was asked to turn in a report of activities that took place in District 5. One of the most important items was the one on "Blue Water Veterans." I also turned in a copy of the First Call that carried the blue water article and brought that to the attention of the chairman."

Vice Commander/Newsletter Editor Bob Stronach participated in a series of public relations workshops on Saturday, covered Sunday's general session with Wojcik, and attended the New York American Legion Press Association meeting following the general session.