EDITORIAL: Service clubs fill charity void

A significant hole in the charitable community will be left if declining enrollment in service clubs continues.

A significant hole in the charitable community will be left if declining enrollment in service clubs continues.

A number of service clubs in Nanaimo and Port Alberni once saw their membership reach into the hundreds but now are challenged to get people out to a meeting.

The Order of the Royal Purple, a service club for women, has closed its Nanaimo chapter after an unstoppable decline in membership.

The clubs cite a change in society as a key reason for their membership decline. People are busier and less interested in the ritual of fraternal groups compared to the networking and establishing of business contacts offered by other organizations.

As a result, long-time volunteers predict other fraternal organizations will face the same question of closure.

In Port Alberni, the Elks Club closed its doors for good last week after 90 years of service in the community.

There is no doubt a waning desire to join these service clubs, but there’s been no change in the need for what they do.

These organizations help people afford guide dogs and hearing aids, offer students bursaries, support not-for-profits and contribute money to improve local parks.

The Elks alone contributed thousands of dollars to the community, and last week handed out $100,000 to various charities.

Our communities are better places because of the work these clubs do and if declining membership sees more organizations shut their doors, there will be a gap to fill in the charitable sector.

As the membership ages, new people must be looked upon to step up and fill the void that will be left once the hard work and dedication from these clubs is lost.

As the Royal Purple ends its chapter in Nanaimo and the Elks in Port Alberni, it’s a good time for us to recognize just how important these groups are and what new challenges we may face without them.

— Nanaimo News Bulletin

& Alberni Valley News