Presidential Thoughts

Information that Celebrates our Past, Serves Today and Inspires the Future

September 21, 2020

Thank you to District 5 President, Pam Schall, and Division 1 President, Katie Pfeil, for their wonderful job on the District 5 and District 2 Zoom Meetings yesterday.   I continue to be thankful for Zoom, but I sure miss seeing everyone in person.  The remaining District Meetings will be held by Zoom.   There are a few just-for-fun Zoom Meetings in the planning stages.  Betsey Lee, 100th Anniversary Chairman, is planning a 100th Anniversary Celebration via Zoom. 


In the past weeks I have attended 2 webinars with National, one on VA Voluntary Services and one on Mission Delivery.  They were both highly informative.  These were 2 of the new virtual training opportunities.   I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about the ALA.  Also, if you have not taken the ALA Academy Courses, I highly recommend them.  They are free. 


Some key points from the Mission Delivery Training, that I found most interesting was

1.  We must change as our veteran population is changing. Veterans needs and wants are not what they were in the past.  We must meet the needs of this changing veteran population.  We may have to let go of some of our past traditions to be able to do this.  However, we can grow stronger by meeting these changing needs.

2. We must shift from a membership only focus to a volunteer/engagement focus. This shift will help us recruit new and younger members.  Plan your activities as a menu style, so members can choose what fits them.  I have attached a template

3.  Look at the Data on the veteran population in your area. You can find data for your area at  


These events have been advertised through Facebook.  To see times and register for these free webinars go to the following links: for Mission Delivery or the Webinar on Voluntary Services


Friday was POW/MIA Recognition Day.   It is estimated that 82,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and other conflicts.  This is the day where we should pause and reflect on the sacrifices that these men and women made for our country.  Please continue to pray for our POW/MIAs.


Mary Ward shared with me that PDP Doris Ray will be turning 97 on October 20th.  I am including her address and phone number.  Doris is our oldest living PDP. She was Department President 1972-73.  It would be wonderful if we could all send her Birthday Cards. 

Doris Ray

501 N. Churton S.

Hillsborough, NC  272728

Phone number (919)732-2282     She is hearing impaired, but is able to read your responses, so there may be some delays. 



1.     Fall Conference scheduled for October 23-24 has been cancelled

2.     Gold Star Mother’s Day September 27 This is when we recognize those mothers who lost a son or daughter in the service of the U.S. Armed Forces.


For God and Country,

ALA Proud,




September 14, 2020

We are excited to welcome Julia Budjan back as our Secretary/Treasurer.  Starting Monday, the office hours will be Monday-Thursday 8am-5:15pm. 


We had 2 wonderful District Zoom Meetings this weekend. Congratulations to District 6, President Carolyn, and District 12 President, Jenny for an outstanding job.  Please keep District 7, President Karen, and her family in prayer.  Karen had to cancel the District 7 meeting due to her father's illness.  I talked with her briefly today and he is doing better than expected.  


Betsey Lee, chairman of the 100th Anniversary Committee has had requests for the blue 100th Anniversary shirt.  She is willing to place another order if we have a minimum of 24. Please contact 100th Anniversary Committee Member Gale Jones at 828-544-5353 or email Gail at to place your order.  Will need shirt size and check to place your order." Gale will give you all the information.


Congratulations to all who have paid their 2021 dues.  Thank you for making us #1 in the Nation this past week.  Thank you, Jill, and the membership team, for encouraging us and keeping the excitement for membership and recruiting going.   Congratulations to Littleton Unit 425 who is 122.22% and Unit 404 Elizabethtown at 100%.  What a great way to start the year.


COVID has changed our lives and the way we do things.  Halloween may look different for our children this year.   This week I want to focus on what we can do to plan for Halloween.   Remember the National website has some great resources that can be downloaded.  I have attached the Halloween safety coloring book that you can print off.  They can also be purchased at Emblem Sales. Below is the link for the pamphlet on Halloween Safety.


You can also support the National Red Ribbon week October 23-31st.  You can support by donating items to your local school.  The theme this year is “Be Brave, Be Drug Free.   We want to encourage communities and families to work together to live a healthier, happier and a drug free life.

For God and Country,

ALA Proud and Strong,


September 6, 2020

Happy Labor Day!  I hope everyone can enjoy a rest over this holiday weekend.  I do plan to take a couple of days for myself to relax and enjoy the holiday.  I am sending out my letter a day early because I have information to share.


First, I am pleased to announce that we have hired a Secretary/Treasurer, Julia Budgan.  Julia will start on Monday, September 14.   The office hours will be Monday-Thursday 8am-5:15pm.   On September 8, 9, and 10, the office will be closed. Two volunteers are willing to donate their time to help with the mail and membership.  Amanda McMillian will input the membership to National, and Vickie Jenkins will take care of the mail.  If you or your unit needs help during these 3 days, I will be available to assist you.  Thank you for your patience and understanding during this transition time.

This Wednesday, I had a great visit to the Fayetteville VA hospital. It was our last check to turn in for the President’s Project.  I was able to have lunch with some wonderful Auxiliary members from Unit 32. It was wonderful seeing faces and it made me realize how much I miss being around everyone.


I have attached the first membership report for 2021. 


News from National

Message from Kelly Circle, Executive Director  I will provide more information as I receive it about these 2 Special Committees.

“During the NEC meeting, President Nicole created, and the NEC ratified, two special purpose committees – The National Code of Ethical Conduct Review Committee and The Inclusion & Diversity Committee. The next step is to reach out to our members and find qualified individuals willing to serve on these committees. This is where you can help! We have approximately 600,000 members and we want everyone to have an opportunity to apply. Please help us get the word out to every unit member in your department!

For these special committees, ALA Leadership experience is not required. More details will follow but know these committees will be meeting frequently on a virtual platform with work to be done in-between meetings. Therefore, we need individuals who can carve out time and be willing to do the “heavy lifting” so proposals can be presented at the next Convention. I know Convention 2021 sounds like it’s a long way off, but it will be here before we know it! Have a wonderful weekend!”

For God and Country,

ALA Proud and Strong,


August 31, 2020

I wanted to remind everyone that Amanda’s last day is Monday, 8-31.  The office will be closed from September 1-7th. The office is always closed on Friday (4th) and Monday is Labor Day (7th). 

HR is working on finding a qualified candidate.  I will provide more information next Sunday, or sooner if possible. HR has been conducting interviews; nothing is final. If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.  Thank you for understanding. 


I hope everyone received information on the upcoming Mission Delivery training that National is offering.  If you are interested please contact the Events Team at

The course dates are

Thursday, September 17th at 7:00pm EST

Monday, September 21st at 9:00pm EST

Saturday, October 3rd at 2:00pm EST


For God and Country,

ALA Proud and 

August 24, 2020

I regret to inform you that Department Secretary, Amanda McMillian, submitted her resignation last week. We wish her great success in her future endeavors. Her last day with us will be Monday August 31st.  We appreciate everything that she has done for the ALA over the last year.  Her warmth and smiles will be missed.   

Community Service Chairman, Julie Hogan, asked me to share a request from District 7 President, Karen Butler, concerning the needs of the Red Cross.  The Red Cross needs our help with Blood Drives and Hurricane Shelters.  Please see attachment.


In her Weekly Briefing, Kelly Circle, our Executive Director, shared the following Poem. From time to time we all need to reflect on our intentions. Are we a builder or wrecker? We should reflect on how our personal actions may affect others and work to ensure a positive mental attitude.

Builder or Wrecker?

I watched them tearing a building down—

A gang of men in a busy town;

With a “Ho, heave, ho,” and a lusty yell

They swung a beam and the side wall fell;

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?

And the kind you would hire if you were to build?”

He laughed and said, “Why, no indeed

Just common laborers is all I need;

They can easily wreck in a day or two

That which has taken builders years to do.”

So I said to myself, as I went on my way,

“What part in the game of life do I play?

Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan,

Carefully measuring with a rule and square,

Patiently doing the very best I can,

Or am I a wrecker – who walks the town,

Content with the labor of tearing down?”

By: Franklin Benvegar.


For God and Country,

ALA Proud and Strong



August 17, 2020

Yesterday we had our District 11 and 13 meetings by Zoom.  District Presidents, Annie Ross and Linda Quinlan, did an outstanding job conducting their meetings. I am thankful that we have Zoom, but I miss our in-person meetings.  I miss not being able to go table to table while meeting new people. I miss you.   


Please check out our updated Website,  Thank you, Julie Hogan, for all the new updates. 


Chairman are uploading their videos on YouTube, so save the YouTube link (below).  Thank you to the following Chairman for uploading their videos; Joan Wells - Junior Actives, Betsey Lee Hodges - 100th Anniversary, Mary Alice Ramsey – Poppies, and Dolly Fisher - AEF.


New from Kelly Circle at National Headquarters

  1. “The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) which had been scheduled for November 28 – December 5, in St. Petersburg, Florida will be changing formats from an in-person to a virtual, at-home event to be held the week of November 30.  Due to concerns for public health related to COVID-19, the change permits Veterans to continue to be artistically engaged and to be recognized for their creative accomplishments.”

  2. “Boys State Documentary
    “It was short notice and there were technical difficulties, but I hope some were able to see the free screening of the Boys State Documentary on Tuesday evening. If you weren’t able to see it, don’t worry, you will have another opportunity! You can sign up for a free seven-day trial subscription of Apple TV+ so you can watch it. The link can be found in the attached memo. This is very exciting for the entire Legion Family and can help us share some of the impactful things we do as an organization!


As mentioned above, attached is the memo TAL Executive Director of Marketing, Dean Kessel, sent recently and gave permission for me to share. Please feel free to share it with your membership. As Dean stated in his last paragraph, with success comes imitation. If your Department(s) and/or Units are approached by interested parties, who may want to create a documentary or other types of third-party content about our programs, please put them in contact with Dean at or by phone 317-569-4506. They need to properly vet the legitimacy and viability of these types of opportunities. “


Please see attachment concerning the video.


I hope everyone has a wonderful week.


For God and Country,

ALA Proud and Strong.


August 10, 2020

Yesterday, we had two successful District Meetings by Zoom.  Thank you, District 14 President, Mary Wright, and District 15 President, Ellen Smith, for a great job.  This coming Saturday we will have the District 11 and 13 Meetings by Zoom.  I look forward to seeing you there. 


I want to thank all who contributed to the President’s Project last year.  You raised a grand total of $ 23,259.64.  I look forward to distributing the checks to the 4 VAMCs in the coming weeks.  Thank you for supporting our veterans who are suffering from PTSD. 


I hope everyone saw this Facebook. Campaign  #100MilesForHope that  benefits The American Legion’s Veterans & Children Foundation. National Commander Bill Oxford is encouraging members of The American Legion Family to accompany him on his journey to cover 100 miles by walking, running, cycling, or riding a motorcycle 100 miles over the next 100 days, concluding on Veterans Day.  You can register on the Emblem Sales website. 100miles of hope information


With everything that was going on last week, I forgot to announce that Rosemary will be returning home and Amanda has returned from maternity leave. Rosemary did an excellent job running the office in Amanda’s absence.  I know we are all thankful she came to help us out during this time.   I would also like to welcome Amanda back. 


For God and Country,

ALA Proud and Strong,


August 3,  2020

Congratulations Emma Schall of Smithfield Unit 132.  Emma is the Winner of the Class II Poppy Contest.  Way to Go Emma!!!!!  Please see attached copy of Emma’s drawing. ( 2nd page of Southern Division Newsletter)


I hope everyone is doing well.  Our District Meetings will start Saturday August 8th with District 14 and District 15 holding virtual meetings.  Members of these Districts and Chairman should have received the Zoom invite.  If not please let me know or contact your District 14 President, Mary Wright and District 15 President, Ellen Smith.  I look forward to seeing you on Zoom.


I know that we all want to get back to normal and never hear the words COVID19 or social distancing again. However, we are not there yet.   I urge you to follow all the guidelines that our Governor has placed on us during Phase 2. (Hopefully on Friday he will move us to Phases 3) This has become real for me. My mother-in-law died Friday night due to COVID19.  She had been in a long-term memory care facility and contracted COVID two weeks ago.  This virus is very real.  Please do not put yourself or your members at risk by having meetings. If you must have a meeting, please consider using Zoom.   There are ways to still work our mission while socially distancing.  I am a big fan of DRIVE THROUGH EVERYTHING.    Please stay safe.


The Southern Division Children and Youth Chairman has suggested that units hold drive through school supply distributions for children who are in need.  This is a wonderful ideal.  Children will still need supplies.  This year supplies may look a little different. Please consider adding a child size mask and hand sanitizer to your list.  The need to help families and children is greater this year because so many parents have been out of work.   Also attached is the updated Youth Hero Application.


Last week I forgot to attach Poppy Chairman Mary Alice’s PAP and report form. (see attachments)


For God and Country,

ALA Proud


July 27,  2020

National Executive Director, Kelly Circle, has a lot of information that she wanted us to spread to all our unit members on the following topics.   

1.     “The American Legion’s membership workshop is going virtual and will be open to anyone who wants to attend. Members just click on “Attendee Link” in the attached agenda for the session they want to attend about 15 minutes before it starts. This is a wonderful training opportunity for all our members and an opportunity to learn the Legion perspective.”

2.     Also attached is a flyer for the 2020 Show Your Love Contest.  Here is your chance to nominate an exceptional volunteer.  There are 2 categories:  1. General Volunteering 2. Volunteering with COVID-19 Relief Efforts.  Submissions are Due August 2, 2020.  Please think of all our wonderful ALA volunteers as well as our health care workers.   See attachment for rules.


3.      Shannon Hitchcock, Director of HR, has been busy reviewing some Inclusion & Division training modules. LinkedIn has some great, and FREE training that would be good for everyone to look at. Kelly highly recommends “Confronting Bias: Thriving Across Our Differences” and “Bystander Training: From Bystander to Upstander.” All these trainings are based in the employment setting but are easily transferable to our organization. Here’s the link to the trainings:” Please see attachments.

I would also like to share Poppy Chairman Mary Alice’s PAP and her video.  Please copy the link and paste into your search bar to see the video.  As the chairman complete their videos, I will share with you.


For God and Country,

ALA Proud and Strong,


July 20,  2020 

I have been thinking about the positivity that I have seen in our world and Legion Family since COVID 19 changed everything.   I am choosing to see the positivity and not dwell on the negative.  These are positive events that I have observed. 


1. Our units are continuing to work our mission with Drive Through Events.

2.  The support we have shown our health care workers, delivery workers, and grocery store workers. These are just a few of our essential workers who deserve a great BIG THANK YOU.

3. People praising God in public and on social media for His blessings.   I love seeing all the Good Morning Prayers that you are posting on Facebook. 

4.  Time with family.  I am enjoying playing board games and cards as well as biking and swimming with my grandson. I am happy that


we all have time to sit down for dinner.  In some degree it almost seems we have returned to a time where life was not so rushed or stressful.  Maybe God is resetting the world.


As you know I have been working on the District Meetings that are to start August 8. Considering that Governor Cooper is keeping NC in Phase 2 until August 7, we have decided to have the District 14 and 15 meeting by Zoom.  District 14 Meeting will be held by Zoom on August 8 at 10:00 a.m. District 15’s Zoom meeting will be scheduled for Saturday August 8 at 2:00 p.m. I will keep you posted on the rest of the District meetings if they should become Zoom meetings.


I received the following information about needs at our VAMCs (from another organization that I belong to and they said it was OK to share with you.)  If you are looking for an individual project that you can do to help our VAMCs, consider donating money or gift cards for specific parties. If your unit wants to donate money, please send it to the Department Headquarters. Please indicate which VAMC you wish to have the money sent to and what specific party your unit would like the money to be used for.  Since no family or other visitors are allowed in the VAs now, the patients are especially happy to get food from the outside world as a respite from having only institutional meals on trays. The Recreation Therapy staff are doing their best to plan events that will break up the monotony of being inside 24/7. Monetary donations are especially helpful for funding Pizza parties ($65), Ice Cream Socials and Lemonade with Cookies ($50 each), Bingo nights ($50-$100 for prize money), cooking classes, feeding the birds, garden supplies, renting movies, etc. etc.  Checks can be made out to the (insert name here) VA Medical Center.  Please put a specific use on the memo line if you have a preference.  The mailing address for each VAMC is included on the sheet with their telephone numbers and the VAVS Chief's name. 


For God and Country

ALA Proud and Strong,


July 13,  2020 

As we move into the new year, I would like you to remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nothing Great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Think about that as you work our mission and recruit new members. 


On Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit our new office in Raleigh.  This is a beautiful state of the art facility.  The unit membership packets were mailed out on Wednesday; they should be arriving to the Unit Membership Chairman soon.  Let us get a jump on the 2021 collection of dues. 


The Blue 100th Anniversary shirts have been shipped from Chairman Betsey Lee.  They are beautiful. Thank you, Betsey Lee, and the100th Anniversary Committee for keeping the Celebration going.


If you are looking for something to do, consider the on-line academy courses that are available on the National website, I am proud to say I have completed all of them.  I think you will enjoy them and learn a lot.  There are also some great slides of some our ladies from North Carolina included.  Courses include the following


ALA101 (Revision coming this fall)

  • ALA Communications Methods

  • ALA Leadership: Living our Motto of Service not Self

  • Establishing an ALA Culture of Goodwill

  • ALA Branding and Why it Matters to Me

  • ALA Fundraising Course

  • How to Deal with Conflict

  • ALA Juniors E-Learning Course


Look for more courses this Fall and Winter, the ALA Academy Virtual Training and Webinars to be available hopefully late August/September. Courses will include Department VAVAS Orientations and Junior Leadership Training.


The American Legion has a podcast, “Tango Alpha Lima” The podcast provides interesting dialogue on relevant and timely topics.  There are 9 episodes on YouTube.   Here is the link for YouTube:


Or you can access them on the Legion website.


You may also be interested in the following link from Samantha Caudill, the video shares tips for cancelling an event.


The Children and Youth Newsletter received this week from Southern Division Chairman, Gabriele Barnett, encourages us to collect school supplies for our children.  Whatever school looks like in the fall, children will still need supplies.   Please consider having a collection drop off site at your Post to collect school supplies.  See attached newsletter for more ideas.


For God and Country

ALA Proud and Strong


July 6, 2020

I hope each of you had a safe and wonderful 4th of July.  I celebrated with my home Post 342 in a “Socially Distancing Parade around one of the local Nursing Homes.  It was wonderful to be out and see the smiles on the residents' faces as we drove by.  


Over the last couple of weeks, I have held Zoom Meetings with the Chairman, Division and District Presidents as we make plans for the upcoming District Meetings.   There have been many wonderful ideas proposed for the meetings if we can have them in person or if we have them by Zoom.  The Chairman are working on creating a 5-minute video that explains their Program Action Plan that could be uploaded to YouTube.  I will keep you informed on all information concerning the District meetings.  Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time.


Emilee, the President’s Project Chairman, the Committee, and I want to thank you for all your support of the President’s Project this year.  I wish we were able to give you the grand total raised, but we have been asked to wait until after the Audit is complete to make sure there are no mistakes.  I think everyone will be incredibly happy when we are able to share.   For this continuous year we will continue to raise money for the 4 VAMCs’ PTSD Units.  If you were able to give last year thank you.  We understand that units have not been able to have fundraisers  and may not have funds available as they have in the past.  Please do not feel pressure to donate.  However, if you can, any amount will be appreciated by the Committee, myself, and our veterans.


I am often asked why I have PTSD for my project.  As many of you know it is personal for me.  I lost a Step-grandson to PTSD.  This week the Southern Division Legislative Bulletin addresses the issue of Suicide Prevention.  Please read the article and you will understand why raising money for the PTSD Units  is a critical need for our Veterans.  PTSD plays a major role in the high suicide rate. In the last 10 years we have lost more than 60,000 veterans to suicide.  The treatment for PTSD needs to be an individual holistic treatment, which can be expensive and not the use of psychoactive drugs which can lead to a risk of suicidal thoughts.  Please read the following Legislative Bulletin.


For God and Country,


ALA Proud and Strong,


© 2020 ALA Department of North Carolina

Annual tax returns are available for public inspection at the Department Headquarters of the North Carolina American Legion Auxiliary, 2940 Falstaff Rd, Raleigh, NC 27610