By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Members of American Legion Post 90 decided last year to hold a “pot-luck” lunch at the group’s headquarters. The event was a success, and the plan was to make this year’s get-together even more special.
But the local Legionnaires didn’t know it would be this special.
Post 90 officials were notified last week by T-Mobile that the veterans organization will receive one of 25 quarterly Hometown grants — each in the amount of $50,000 — for construction and maintenance of the post’s new water garden.
“We were surprised, to say the least,” Post Commander Dave Graham said.
Post Adjutant Paul Chason said the unexpected gift was more than surprising.
“Surprised? Yes. Humbled? Extremely. Honored? Beyond belief,” Chason said of the windfall. “What a Christmas present.”
The local grant award was the only one T-Mobile awarded to an Alabama organization during the most recent quarter. Even more surprising is that it is the second this year awarded by the telecommunications company to a local entity.
“This was, for lack of a better term, a shot in the dark,” Chason said. “Why? T-Mobile does 25 grants a quarter, nationwide, and Main Street Atmore had a T-Mobile grant banner up. So, to submit a second grant application to T-Mobile from Atmore was a long shot, to put it mildly.
“Our little community of less than 10,000 people has received $100,000 in grants from T-Mobile to improve our community. That’s unreal.”
Jon Freier, President of T-Mobile’s Consumer Group, said the company, which has so far awarded $6.8 million in grants to better small towns, is as humbled as the recipients.
“Hometown Grants are truly making a difference in small towns,” Freier said. “Beyond the $6.8 million we’ve provided in funding to our 150 grant recipients so far, we’ve also seen $2 million in matching funds from other local resources, which is huge. It’s been humbling to see T-Mobile creating a positive lasting impact in communities both through our grant funding and giving back to small businesses all over the country.”
T-Mobile works with Main Street America and Smart Growth America to select Hometown Grant recipients. Main Street America Interim CEO Hannah White said the organization is “thrilled” to be a part of the Hometown Grant process.
“The T-Mobile Hometown Grant program has made a massive impact in small towns and rural communities across the country,” she said. “Grantees have renovated historic spaces, built new playgrounds and parks, and spurred innovative placemaking projects that are bringing community members together in new and meaningful ways. We are thrilled to partner with T-Mobile and Smart Growth America to continue this important work in places that are too-often overlooked.”
The post’s planned potluck will include special recognition of several individuals and groups who have supported and helped the local Legion post over the past year and beyond. Now it will also include the awarding by T-Mobile representatives of a facsimile check for $50,000.