Over nearly eight decades, American Legion Post 283 has been a low-key but solid supporter of good causes in and around Pacific Palisades, CA—community improvement projects, youth programs, and, of course, service to veterans.
Astute investments in local real estate over the years have provided a steady stream of income to the post, allowing it to build up a sizeable nest egg. So when members learned about Fisher House Foundation and the efforts to build a house at the VA’s West Los Angeles campus, they were in a position to help.
Local businessman Tim Byk spearheaded the fundraising effort for the Fisher House, founding the West Los Angeles Fisher House Foundation for that purpose. He approached Post 283’s Louis Cozolino and Scott Erickson, eventually appointing them to his nonprofit board. The post made an initial donation of $50,000.
As the foundation’s fundraising efforts slowly began to bear fruit, the post was ready to make a more serious commitment. Cozolino and Erickson approached their executive committee with an outsized proposition: how about a $2 million donation to the Fisher House project? No American Legion post in the country had ever made such a generous gift—and the ask went far beyond anything Post 283 had considered before. What sort of reaction did the pair incur?
“Actually, to my knowledge, there was pretty much unanimous approval when the executive committee met,” recalls Erickson. “The need here in Los Angeles is so great; no one could contest it.”
That contribution was the trigger that allowed construction on the house to begin. Nineteen months later, they celebrated the ribbon-cutting and a job well done. Not that their work is finished. Byk, Cozolino, Erickson and Post 283 are already looking ahead to planning for a second Fisher House, right next door to the first. Of the post’s extraordinary commitment to the Fisher House, Erickson is demure: “We’re just a bunch of old vets trying to help the new ones coming along.”