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Communities have put a lot of thought and creativity into their Community Excellence Awards projects and now they’re ready for your votes! Voting is open to everyone, but remember – you may only cast one (1) vote per day. Check back often to see which projects are leading in the Race for the Cup! Voting ends July 17, 2019.
Village of Pigeon VFW Hall Project
Community: Village of Pigeon
Population: Under 2,500
In February 2017, the Village of Pigeon leased the Pigeon VFW Hall from the VFW Post with the intention of keeping it in the community as a rental facility. Little did we know that by doing so, it would generate such excitement and grab a hold of the community. It turned what was thought of as saving a community gathering place into a rehabilitation of a 70+ year old hall. The project was funded by private, non-profit, and government donations, helping make it into an area event center. Since then, many improvements were made bringing the facility not just up to code but making it user-friendly. In October 2018, the village bought the property, making it part of the village park system.
This project is a great example of cooperation between the Village of Pigeon, Winsor Township, local businesses, and nonprofits. Many communities across the state have buildings from organizations that are either closed or on the brink of closing. The big opportunity to replicate a project like this is having cooperation between government, local civic clubs, citizens, and businesses. Great cooperation like this could be replicated easily. Each unique project will have its challenges, but with the right people it could be accomplished.
Creativity and Originality:
While there are many other facilities of this type all over Michigan, you need to start with a vision and visionary to lead. We were very lucky in that we had that visionary and a person, the village president, to lead it. When he looked at that old building, he saw a need for the community and the potential for something great. With that and the backing of the Village Council, we were able to achieve great things. Donations have covered the rehabilitation cost of the building, but day to day operations have been supported by the facility. We have achieved a great thing. As of 2018, the facility has been completely self-sustaining.
In the Thumb of Michigan, we have always had a limited number of large usable facilities. The impact of this rehabilitation can be measured in the sheer volume of use the facility has seen. The facility went from 9-11 bookings in 2016 to 44 in 2018 and 53+ in 2019. We have been able to take an old outdated facility and make it a desirable center that the public can utilize in a multitude of ways. Because of this project, new life has been spawned in the adjacent Veteran’s Park. A gazebo is being added and the landscaping updated. Because of the VFW Hall Project, the once popular park and hall are seeing a new beginning.