A recent change in the U.S. bailout allows veterans organizations and other 501(c)(19) organizations to receive up to $10,000 each in a special pandemic loan and government grant federal.
The original bill, signed into law in March 2021, listed financial assistance in the form of loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits without specifying who was eligible. Veterans’ organizations, however, were unable to receive funds due to their special tax-exempt status.
While American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars positions are listed under 501(c)(19), previous ARPA provided benefits only to organizations designated under 501(c)(3). This left out other groups such as 501(c)(4) welfare organizations, 501(c)(7) social clubs, 501(c)(8) beneficiary fraternal societies, and fraternal societies. National 501(c)(10).
“It’s amazing,” said Pete Wenninger, the East Meadow American Legion Post 1082 commander of the recent ARPA change. “It could breathe new life into my Veterans Hall, our membership and our community outreach program.
The change was officially made by the federal government in March, according to county lawmakers Steve Rhoads and Tom McKevitt. But McKevitt said it took time to bring the change to the Legislative Assembly, and the change passed at the April 25 meeting. “It’s one thing that the federal government allows it,” McKevitt said. “But it’s the county legislature that has to implement it and allow the administration to authorize the use of that money.”
“We will provide funding to veterans halls to keep them open,” County Executive Bruce Blakeman said during the April 11 legislative session, according to the meeting minutes. “Our veterans have served us, they have protected us and the least we can do is help these veterans wards stay open and vital. Veterans Residences are the foundation of our community.
Wenninger said he feared the money would only be used for Covid-related projects such as new ventilation systems to keep the air in the hall clean, but McKevitt said that was not the case. . “[The money] really has to do with the fact that in 2020 veterans halls suffered significant losses because they weren’t able to rent their halls,” McKevitt said. “At this point, we can get them $10,000, but there may be room for more as the administration considers what to do with the additional Covid funds.”
A covered patio, new parking lot, membership drive and handicapped-accessible bathrooms are some of the projects Wenninger said he would consider using Covid money.
Much of his time and work was spent in the Post 1082 hall on Bellmore Road, but the extra funds would really give Wenninger the edge to do more projects.
“I’m starving here,” Wenninger said. “I do parades here, I do 100 year anniversary celebrations, I do funerals and it’s not even my members. They are my community.
Rhoads said the Legislative Assembly plans to hold regional workshops to help veterans’ organizations complete all the necessary paperwork to qualify for the funds. “There’s a lot of crossovers of t’s and i’s and we have old people and people who are working and still working and raising families,” Wenninger said. “They don’t have time for the aggravation of government paperwork.”
It was not easy to get the ARPA guidelines changed, McKevitt said. A letter sent to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer in June by Nassau County Legislative Chairman Richard Nicolello on behalf of the Republican majority asking that the “narrow definition” of nonprofits be changed in ARPA only received no answer.
“We just kept pushing and pushing and nothing was answered until they changed the rule,” McKevitt said. “And frankly, that’s how the feds work. You push and push and hope it happens and in this case we are very grateful that it happened.