First Posted: 3/7/2013
In military terms, a force or combat multiplier is an attribute which makes a unit more effective than it could be on its own. For a local veterans organization, that doctrine was applied well.
Last year at this time, American Legion Post 513 of Old Forge was declaring victory in its war against the ravages of Tropical Storm Lee from September 2011 when it came to the aid of neighboring Duryea.
“The task we undertook was a difficult one – one that few would be able to do,” said Post Commander Adam Chase. “But we could not go it alone; our organic resources were not enough for this one.”
In a drive to replace badly-needed furniture items for hurting families, the Legionnaires applied their military skills and knew they had to act fast but would need force multipliers to be successful.
“One drive through town, to see the stacks of friends’ belongings laying in ruin at the curbside, was all the motivation we needed,” commented Adjutant Lloyd Mackell, himself a borough resident.
Chase noted that the first and most important multiplier was generous citizens who responded in droves with good used furniture. “We had a hunch and we went with it. The supply was there and people up and down the valley gave from the bottom of their heart.”
The logistics of heavy and bulky furniture items would prove to be a challenge. The group knew they needed ground level commercial storage space nearby and going on a tip, met up with Alex Gans of Rowe Door Sales Co. in Duryea.
“I really wanted to help and wasn’t sure how, but I have the space, so let’s do this,” Rowe said. The Legionnaires had the logistical headquarters from which they operated for nearly 3 ½ months.
With the group off to a quick start and taking pride in a “no red tape” approach to helping the residents, they received an unexpected boost to the efficiency of the operation. Chase recalls the mutual respect he had for Community Activist and Coordinator Rose Zaino the day she walked in.
“Rosey had been helping the residents from day one from the borough based effort at procuring and distributing aide and supplies,” he said. “She transitioned to our location and did not miss a beat, bringing many helpers and an intimate knowledge and familiarity of the victims’ situations. She was there right to the end.”
The group worked tirelessly on transportation of the items, finding that most donors did not have the means to bring their items in. The Legionnaires were quick to point out their success in this aspect had much to do with cooperative efforts arranged with participants such as the Duryea Borough, Penn State – Worthington Veterans Club and Old Forge High School soccer team as well as other individuals.
The end result of the effort was hundreds of items procured and distributed with a total value exceeding six figures.