Wednesday marked the end of a long-standing tradition for Angel of Shavano Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3820, as more than 25 years of bingo came to an end at the Salida Masonic Lodge.
The VFW bingo night was a staple in the lives of several people, a chance to get out, socialize with friends and maybe win something.
Glenn Mallory, adjutant and quartermaster of Post No 3820, said that under the Colorado secretary of state’s regulations, all the workers in a charitable bingo game must be uncompensated volunteers.
As the members have aged, fewer young people have taken up the work, and Mallory said the older volunteers “just can’t do it anymore.”
“We ran out of manpower,” he said.
Senior Vice Cmdr. Ralph Eyler said the youngest volunteer for the weekly event was older than 70.
Member Len “Smoky” Kapushion said it would be nice to have some younger members to help out. “We need more Gulf War vets,” he said.
The weekly bingo game was also a source of funds for the VFW’s various scholarship programs.
Mallory said the group has savings enough to keep that going for several years, and other youth programs would not be affected by the loss of the bingo money.
Mallory said the group hopes to increase its visibility in the community and attract younger members.
The social aspect of the weekly gathering is what many said they would miss.
Charlene Thompson and daughter Susie Orzechowski have been attending the VFW bingo nights for more than 20 years and remember playing at the old VFW hall on Colo. 291.
Susie’s husband, Frank Orzechowski, said the weekly game was a chance to get out and meet people, talk to friends, have a good time and enjoy the people.
Joyce Greenfield and Jane Carstens are also longtime bingo players at the VFW games.
Greenfield said she didn’t know what she would do on Wednesday evenings after this.
“Just stay warm, I guess,” she said.
Eyler was philosophical about the end of the event, saying things change, things end.
Volunteer Elizabeth Jehle said that, for everyone who participated, the Wednesday night game was not just about playing bingo.
“It was a family,” she said.