From left: Patrick Cartwright, owner of Northwest Automotive Customs Inc.; Duc Nguyen, VFW member and owner of Banh Mi & Brews; Bryce Watson, VFW member; and Gary Stokem, outside sales representative for NAPA Auto Parts. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE

CRESWELL – A pothole-riddled parking lot at the Creswell VFW Post is one step closer to getting back to tip-top shape, after the post received a $1,000 donation from two Creswell businesses on July 15. 

The state of the parking lot “has definitely seen better days,” said Duc Nguyen, VFW member and owner of Banh Mi & Brews. Over time, the parking lot has been used by vehicles as a turn-around point. When it rains, the potholes fill up and create pools of water, including at the front entrance the building surrounding the flagpole, Nguyen said. It is an uneven and unsafe surface for many of the post’s World War II and Vietnam veterans – some of which use walking devices. 

PHOTO PROVIDED/CRESWELL VFW

For Patrick Cartwright, who owns Northwest Automotive Customs Inc., it was a chance to reciprocate the support he’s been given by the community as a year-old business owner in town.

“Why not give back to the community that supports us? There's a lot of new blood in Creswell ... we support each other as we’re growing,” Cartwright said. 

Cartwright hosted a Show n’ Shine event at his business during July Fourth. About $80 was donated from the 50/50 raffle that night, and Cartwright contributed additional money in order to cut the post a $500 check. NAPA Auto Parts matched Cartwright’s $500 donation. 

“It's really nice to see the community kind of rallying up behind us … we're just happy to be a part of it,” said Gary Stokem, the outside sales representative for NAPA Auto Parts.

The combined $1,000 contribution from Northwest Automotive and NAPA Auto Parts is much appreciated by post members, said Bryce Watson, VFW member. The post’s goal is to raise $20,000 for the project, which will be used to dig proper drains, grading for drainage, rerocking and compacting. 

From left: Patrick Cartwright, owner of Northwest Automotive Customs Inc.; Duc Nguyen, VFW member and owner of Banh Mi & Brews; Bryce Watson, VFW member; and Gary Stokem, outside sales representative for NAPA Auto Parts. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE

That’s a tall order for the post – which is driven by donations – especially because it hasn’t been able to fundraise over the past year and a half due to Covid restrictions, Watson said.

When the money is raised, it will ensure a safe entry to the building for its members, and will also allow the VFW to open its space up to community members and host events in its parking lot, Nguyen said.

Cartwright and Stokem hope their contributions will inspire others to donate. The VFW has established a GoFundMe account to help with the costs. So far, it’s raised $555. You can donate here.

Bobby Ladley, Creswell Chamber president, could not attend the event today but said that "the Chamber appreciates local businesses stepping up and supporting the VFW. We look forward to attending many more business-related activities."