WESTFIELD – After a chilly January, many around the area are feeling the effects of the cold weather, especially the Westfield Marine Corps League Detachment 141. Only a few weeks ago, one of the pipes in their headquarters froze and burst, leaking into their dining area and causing water damage to their headquarters, located in a century-old decommissioned firehouse on North Elm Street.
“The Mayor and I both heard separately about the cost of the repairs,” said Representative John Velis. “Once we heard, we knew we needed to do something to help them out. It’s such a coincidence, when he called me about splitting the bill, I was about to pick up my phone and do the same thing. The Marine Corps League contribute so much to this community, I felt compelled to give back.”
In total, the Representative Velis and Mayor Sullivan contributed $800 to cover the cost of the repairs. They presented the checks to the Marine Corps League on Monday night during their regularly scheduled meeting.
“It was actually a really funny night. Before the meeting, I was driving around running errands, and of course, I didn’t even realize that I was walking into a meeting of retired Marines wearing my Army sweatshirt until it was too late to change. Before the meeting began, I was joking with the Mayor that I might be the first guy to show up with a $400 check and leave with a black eye instead of a thank you,” said Velis, referring to the long-standing rivalry between the Army and the Marines. Velis is currently a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.
The Westfield River Valley Detachment is one of the most active MCL chapters in the area. They are best known for their annual Toys for Tots drive, but also for marching in every major parade and actively participating in city events. Their other work includes a scholarship program and hosting a Young Marines chapter for local kids who aspire to join their ranks one day.
As Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan put it, “Being able to give back to the Marine Corps League with a small donation to help defray the cost of an emergency project is the least that I could do after all the Marine Corps does for us in our community.”
Velis concluded, “The Marine Corps League in Westfield is actively involved in everything we do in this city. There’s no event, rain or shine, that they don’t show up to. They are constantly serving our city and this was our way of saying thanks.”