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Wyandanch VFW Hall will soon get $292G in long-awaited, long-overdue repairs

About 15 of the 45 members of VFW

About 15 of the 45 members of VFW Post #361, who include Charles Dawson, from left, Gene Lopez and Post Commander Kenneth Woods, meet monthly at their Wyandanch building to go over topics such as benefits for veterans, as well as plan community fundraising efforts such as a recent Toys for Tots drive. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A building in Wyandanch that serves both veterans and the community at large is about to undergo some major renovations.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 361 building at 30 William St. has been deteriorating for years, said Kenneth Woods, 53, commander of the post. The prefabricated building, originally a library, was constructed in 1972 and was donated to the VFW after the group incorporated in 1983.

Roughly 15 of the 45 members meet at the building monthly to go over topics such as benefits for veterans, as well as plan community fundraising efforts. The post also uses the building for local charity work, such as a recent Thanksgiving turkey dinner giveaway and a Christmas Toys for Tots drive.

But to keep the lights on, aside from member donations, the building must be rented out to the community for parties and events, Woods said.

"It’s really the only way we can make money," he said.

That has become increasingly difficult since the pandemic started in 2020, Woods said, with the number of rentals falling from two to three a month to one every two months. Making things more difficult has been the building’s appearance, he added.

"It does not look like any other VFW on Long Island," said Woods, a retired Army first sergeant. "Through the years it’s just not been appealing. The floors are caving in, the lights are not up to proper standards."

The VFW filed an application through the Town of Babylon to seek federal Housing and Urban Development funds and the town has hired Austin Interiors Inc. of Smithtown to do the work for $292,000.

The company is tasked with replacing the floor, ceiling and doors, renovating bathrooms and installing updated fixtures, putting in emergency exit lighting and new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fixing the roof and installing new gutters. The work will begin within the next two months and should take about two to three months to complete, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner.

"Many times I would kind of be embarrassed," Woods said of visitors seeing the building. "I can finally feel good about people coming to our post now."

Members will have to fundraise to address problems not covered by the HUD money, such as fixing the parking lot and adding a wheelchair-accessible ramp, Woods said.

Norman Sellers, 53, a Gulf War Navy veteran and former commander of the post, said he’s hopeful the renovations will allow members to further meet the needs of those in Wyandanch.

"We’re comrades who serve with pride whether in or out of uniform," he said. "We want to do more in this community."

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