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Like most of rural Ontario’s beloved legions, the Greely Legion has been a gathering place for community members to play cards and catch up. The pandemic forced them to shut their doors but that didn’t stop them from continuing to have a profound impact on the community.

Greely Legion president, Linda Wyman, says that every legion is unique and that their role is changing.

“We are still there to help veterans but we’re also there to help youth and seniors. That’s what our mandate is. The seniors can teach the youth a lot. Because we’re out in the county and we have lots of space, we are able to do a number of things,” she said.

From January to April, the legion functions as a training facility managed by the Ottawa Patriots Baseball Club and benefiting the region’s baseball leagues.

Paul Villeneuve, the president of the Ottawa Patriots Baseball Club discovered the legion space in Greely, a rural suburb of Ottawa and knew it would be perfect.

“In Ottawa, different baseball associations like Little League of Canada, and private teams don’t have very many facilities to do baseball drills. So, I rent hours to different baseball associations so that they can practice with their teams,” Paul explained.

He also thought that an ongoing rental agreement was just the thing to keep the lights on at the legion while they were closed due to COVID-19.

“Through baseball, we provide a large chunk of money that helps them stay alive. It’s really hard to find a training facility, and they are normally very expensive so it’s been a win win for both of us. If it wasn’t for us, they probably would have had to consider shutting down because the building costs so much for heating,” he said.

In the baseball facility, he put in artificial turf, netting and large screen nets so that the kids can hit off the tee, soft toss hit or go in the batting cage to do live hitting with either a pitcher or a pitching machine. The average team will bring in up to 15 players plus coaches.

In January, Paul approached Xplornet about getting the legion connected and we decided to provide the connection free of charge to support this important community hub.

“We brought in the Internet with hopes that when the legion does other activities it will serve their members. I also got a big screen TV so the parents have something to do while their kids are there for two hours,” he explained.

Paul said that a lot of parents will even bring their laptops to work remotely!

“It’s been very complimentary to the people using it. I dealt with Arthur [from Authorized Xplornet Dealer, Canada Connex] and nothing but 10 stars there. We haven’t had any issues. It’s been great. I would definitely recommend Xplornet,” Paul said.

Linda mentioned that having the Internet makes the legion space more attractive to local community groups and individuals who are looking for a space to rent. She also said it’s useful for legion operations.

“We never had it before, so our secretary and treasurer had to do everything at home. Now they can do more of the legion operations on premises,” she said.

Now that the COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted, Linda and the legion’s executive committee are working on plans to re-open. They will likely start by renting the space for events like weddings, auctions, and other activities.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning curves. We’re going to start opening up to the general public for Tuesday afternoon dances in early May and euchre tournaments once a month. People are really looking forward to getting out and seeing their friends again. The seniors need a place to go where they can associate, play cards, shuffle board, pool, have fun and enjoy themselves,” she explained.

Linda is looking forward to renting the space again. Because the legion is volunteer-run, they offer a very reasonably priced venue for events like family reunions and weddings.

And, they are always looking for interested members.

“You don’t have to have any affiliation with military service. It’s open to anyone in the community whose interested in getting out, meeting people and doing some volunteer work. Our bar prices are good, our rental prices are good and we serve good food,” Linda said.

Xplornet is proud to be providing Internet to this local organization that gives so much back to the community.

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