Closer to Home
It's June 1958, three Manatee County residents travel to Sarasota for their monthly Power Squadron meeting. Rev. H. C. Benjamin, Jack Ehrenzeller, and Alan MacKenzie are discussing the idea of a Power Squadron serving Manatee County. So it was, the seed was planted, it was time to establish a squadron closer to home.

Burgee Meetings were held, letters written, ideas explored. "Anna Maria Island Power Squadron" was accepted for the name that would symbolize it's birthplace, but the squadron was to serve all of Manatee County. Ray Sherman designed a squadron burgee, hopes and enthusiasm ran high. Alas, it is a short lived euphoria.

National Headquarters rejected the initial application for charter. Rev. Benjamin personally visits the National offices for further (amen) discussions. The application for charter is resubmitted, and having seen the error of their ways, the charter is approved. The dream, tempered with determination, is a reality closer to completion. This was to be the first of many obstacles to overcome.

Anna Maria Island Power Squadron, sponsored by Sarasota Power Squadron becomes the ninth squadron in District 22. The charter dated 10 November 1958 contains the names of twenty-four Charter Members, the men who gave us our heritage.

The early years were spent solving problems and expanding. A growing membership is demanding more services; meeting facilities are obtained and then lost; classes are taught in homes, churches, etc. Financial burdens seem overwhelming, the outlook for the future is somber. Commander Frank Brechlin, 1970, appoints a large committee and charges them with a mandate to resolve these issues.

School House At about this time, the Manatee County School board offered for sale the Palma Sola Community Hall. This is a fifty two year old school house located on two acres of land. At the price of $ 11,500, with allowances for rehabilitation and a very large allowance for determination, the purchase is a go.

Bingo It was not until 20 January 1971 that clear title to the property became available and purchase finalized. Twenty year $50.00 bonds were sold. "Silver Dollar Bingo", thousands of man hours donated by members to raise capital. Hammers, saws, and sweat equity poured into the completion of this squadron home.

Then on 21 May 1972 another cornerstone was established at this home. Our own "Helpmates" women's auxiliary was formed. Then, as now, their contributions were enormous. The sum of the parts became greater than the whole and each made possible this debt free home.

An active and growing squadron housed in its own permanent facilities, a rich heritage of nurturing care, encompassed with a dedication and perseverance. Such is the legacy of a squadron "Closer to Home". And so to this day, Anna Maria Island Power Squadron continues it's mission of:

Public Education - Self Education - Civic Service - Fellowship

The building is available for rental and is eminently suitable for wedding receptions and social events.

It was our practice to display photographs of the Past Squadron Commanders in our building. However, the ravages of time reduced many to poor condition. Now they have been digitized and restored. High resolution files are available should there be any interest. Starting with our first commander Herbert C. Benjamin, 1958, they may be viewed on the following web pages.

1958 to 1979  1980 to 1999  2000 to present.

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