FRANKLIN, MAINE (WABI) For 39 years, the Franklin Veterans Club has welcomed veterans as well as the community to its organization.
It is one of the largest non-affiliated veteran's groups in Maine.
Joy Hollowell shows us how community is the core of the club.
"This club was created in 1978 by a group of local veterans," says Franklin Veterans Club President Stephen Watson. "And it's been a great experiment in how a veteran's organization can serve not only veterans but others. And we get a lot of satisfaction out of that."
280 members make up the Franklin Veterans Club. They come from all over the U.S.
Teddy Giles' late husband, Paul was one of the charter members.
"They just did not want to be tied to any organization," she explains.
Club members say not having a national charter like the American Legion or VFW has translated to more freedom and less formalities.
"We can pretty much do anything we want, as long as we don't violate the law or our bylaws," says Walton, whose been the club's president for 5 years. "When I first became president, there were something like 13 or 15 separate committees. Now we have three."
Helping others is the primary mission of the Franklin Veterans Club, and not just veterans.
Steven Mosley is among the non-veteran members of the club. His father was a charter member.
"As part of our property, we have the local ball field," says Mosley, who serves on the board of directors. "So the Franklin Little League, Farm League, some other towns come and play their ball teams here."
Flags in town are another club program.
And Saturday nights, the club's hall is so packed for prime rib dinners, folks sometimes have to make reservations first.
"I joined the club back in 1989 with my ex-husband who is a veteran," says Teresa Giles. "He left, I stayed," she adds with a smile.
The Franklin Veterans club has become Giles' second home.
"I think that's why they mean so much to me. I felt like I was foundering out there all alone and this was my family."
Ken Lamothe is a former paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. He and his wife moved to Franklin about three years ago and joined the club.
"It's a bunch of like-minded people who are working towards the same goal and it was a really good fit for us," he says. "Plus, my wife plays in the band."
"And that's what makes it fun," adds Mosley. "You leave here at the end of the day after you've been serving meals all night and you still have a smile on your face because everybody worked together and everybody had a good time."
The Franklin Veterans Club supports a different veterans program each quarter.
They are currently working with the Maine Veterans Project.
If you'd like more information on the Franklin Veterans Club including membership as well as the community causes they support, log onto https://www.franklinveteransclub.com/
They also have a Facebook page.