In its heyday, the Powell Kiwanis Club boasted a robust membership and was a staple in the community for 63 years. In that time, the service organization and fraternal brotherhood were stalwarts of …
In its heyday, the Powell Kiwanis Club boasted a robust membership and was a staple in the community for 63 years. In that time, the service organization and fraternal brotherhood were stalwarts of the community, especially when it came to the area’s youth: baseball, soccer and swim clubs were just a few of the youth activities the club sponsored year after year, as well as Kids’ Day at the Park County Fair. They even sponsored a yearly breakfast for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as well as a golf tournament.
The local Kiwanis Club disbanded in 2016, and the Lions Club not long after, citing low membership numbers and a decrease in interest from younger members of the community.
Other local clubs, such as the Elks and Rotary, have struggled with the same problem. The shrinking local chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows is yet another sad example of the state of our local service organizations.
For years the Odd Fellows owned a lodge next to the Powell Police Department, and would host weekly bingo nights and an annual steak fry, with the proceeds going to such worthy causes as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
But the Odd Fellows have felt the pinch of decreased membership and interest — the club’s current membership sits at roughly eight to 10 members, and the group has had to sell its property on Clark Street for smaller accommodations. Gone are the weekly bingo nights and the yearly steak fry, casualties of attrition.
“We just don’t have the number of members to handle it and do it,” said local IOOF leader Larry Yonts.
But despite dwindling interest, the quest for newer, younger members continues for all of the local service clubs. Many point to a lack of time and increased options for free-time activities as partially to blame for the lack of interest in service clubs; ever-advancing technology is also a factor. Younger people are socializing in a different way, managing relationships and volunteering through electronic technology, eliminating the need to physically congregate at a certain place and time.
But hope is not lost. Now more than ever, people are willing to step up and help those in need; the incredible outpouring of support from across the state (and country) in the form of fundraising that has been shown the family of Ethan Asher in the wake of the Powell High School senior’s horrific accident a month ago proves that.
For years, service clubs like the IOOF have been a part of so many activities and traditions that tie our community together. We’d encourage Powell’s younger generation to explore different options when it comes to serving their community — there’s plenty of groups who would appreciate new members, and it’s a small step in ensuring our way of life doesn’t disappear along with those who have served it faithfully for so long.