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April 06. 2013 9:58PM

Nashua VFW might have found new home

NASHUA - As the state's largest VFW post prepares a final breakfast today at its Quincy Street building, the organization says it may have found a new home better suited to its declining membership.

"We have been looking for a new home, and we may actually have a place," Lewis Chipola of Nashua VFW Post 483 said Friday. "At this point, we don't want to say anything specific, as it is not quite official. But, hopefully the move can be announced shortly."

The local VFW announced late last year that it was planning to sell its large property at 2 Quincy St., and a short time later Post 483 agreed to sell its building to the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter for its food distribution services.

The VFW will turn over its building to the soup kitchen on April 26, despite not having a permanent place for future meetings.

"At this moment, we do not have a new building, but one is under consideration," echoed Cmdr. Barry Palmer, who said he is working to ensure the post would be welcome at the new site. "We have our fingers crossed."

Chipola agreed, stressing the VFW will continue to function despite not having a home post. There have been several offers to host the group's monthly meetings elsewhere, said Chipola, who is optimistic about the prospective move.

Meanwhile, he said, the VFW members will continue their meetings, participation in local parades and poppy drives.

Today will be bittersweet for the VFW post, according to Chipola, who said the final breakfast and the farewell ceremony will probably be emotional for longtime members.

"There is a lot of pride here after 92 years in the building," he added.

The breakfast, which is open to the public, will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Chipola is hoping for at least 200 attendees. The farewell ceremony will be held at the post at 2 p.m.

The post flag will be lowered and presented to the city of Nashua. Mayor Donnalee Lozeau is expected to attend the event and accept the flag on behalf of the city.

"We have been here 92 years, and this is a historic building," Palmer said Friday. "We didn't just want to blow it off; we really wanted to celebrate."

The Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, now on Chestnut Street, has in the past three years tripled the number of meals it serves on a regular basis, prompting the search for a larger building.

When the VFW building went up for sale, representatives from both groups said it could be a win-win situation for the community.

"Sometimes when one door closes, another one opens," John Fisher, a member of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter board of directors, said previously. "It really seems quite perfect."

While the soup kitchen clientele is increasing, Fisher said, the VFW membership is declining. Fisher stressed that the new soup kitchen will not be used as a shelter or to house clients because the organization already has a shelter operating in the city.

The VFW took over the old house on Quincy Street, which was originally built for Spanish-American War veterans, in the 1920s. Currently, VFW Post 483 has about 420 members; three years ago, it had close to 520.



khoughton@newstote.com


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