Jane Montaney of Ephrata, Wash., found out while visiting an American Legion Family conference with her husband in 1996 that her local American Legion Auxiliary unit was missing one member in order to make goal. That’s the day she signed up to join the American Legion Auxiliary.
“I sent a note across the teller to the president who was there and said, ‘You are at goal — I’ll join,’ and I did it right there. They gave me an application and I gave them the money,” Montaney said.
Since then, whenever the ALA has needed someone to step up, Montaney has been there ready to serve.
When her unit’s treasurer passed away, she took on that responsibility. When her community needed someone to host a blood drive each year, she found a way that her ALA unit could help. So, when Montaney found out about leaving a planned gift to the ALA, she took a look at her finances, and made a bequest.
“I personally didn’t think I had enough, and what I did have, I wanted to make sure it was there for my children and grandchildren for college scholarships,” Montaney said.
“But then I remembered: ‘Gee whiz, Jane! Look at all the scholarship opportunities available through the American Legion Auxiliary that my grandchildren qualify for!’”
Montaney talked to her children, who ultimately encouraged her to give to the ALA. They knew how important Auxiliary programs were to her and wanted to see those continue.
Montaney knows it’s not about the limelight; it’s about what is getting done for our nation’s heroes. She knows that when her legacy gift reaches the American Legion Auxiliary, it won’t be her who receives the glory. But that’s not what she wants – she just wants the work to continue.
“It’s kind of like those three little words: Service Not Self,” Montaney said.
“It’s not about me. It’s not about who is doing something. It’s about what we are doing and what we are accomplishing. [Members of] the Legacy Society are going to make sure funds are available so the purposes of the American Legion Auxiliary can still be fulfilled through their programs.”
Montaney’s family consists of mostly military servicemen and women. Her father is a retired major in the U.S. Marine Corps and previously had served in the Navy. Her husband is a retired Marine master sergeant. Her brother and two grandsons joined the Marine Corps. Her daughter joined the Army to help with the National Guard. They cover everything but Coast Guard, Montaney jokes, but even her closest family friends were members of the Coast Guard. All of these military servicemembers and veterans are why she is excited to be part of the American Legion Auxiliary’s mission.
Montaney does all that she can for the ALA. Most of the time, that means volunteering, but she makes sure to donate at least once a year.
“One of the things I give to every year is the National Presidents’ Scholarship Fund, but I have to save up all year for it,” Montaney said.
It all makes a difference. Montaney knows every small thing she does for someone makes an impact. In her own volunteer work, she has seen it.
“We make a difference in people’s lives and we don’t realize it at the time,” Montaney said, “I’ve had people come up to me before and they think I walk on water. All I did was help them with their spouse’s funeral or send some cookies to the troops.”
That’s why, even though Montaney said she doesn’t have a large estate, she still wanted to be a part of the Legacy Society and provide for the future of the ALA.
“Don’t be afraid of it,” Montaney said. “Even if all you can give is 1%, it’s something. It’s not about the amount of money you can give. It’s about how much can be contributed by everybody participating.”
Learn how to make a planned gift to the American Legion Auxiliary and join the Legacy Society by going to www.ALAforVeterans.org/Planned-Giving.