In an effort to continue paying its property taxes, the Knights of Columbus in Wantagh has renovated its hall, and announced the venue is available to rent for an event.
According to John Casella, a past Grand Knight, it’s through fundraisers and member donations that the organization has been able to continue renovating the building on Wantagh Avenue and keeping it up to date.
The Knights need to increase their rentals “by a little bit” because the taxes are “sky high,” Casella said. “A lot of people don’t know we exist, even people in the town of Wantagh. And even if they know we exist, they haven’t been here since the hall has been renovated.”
Casella said the Knights of Columbus council hall on Wantagh Avenue is open to anyone who wants to rent it for an event. The John Theissen Children’s Foundation, next door to the Knights of Columbus, uses the council hall for its various events throughout the year.
The council hall holds 80 people, comfortably, and a maximum of 90, according to Casella. People who rent the hall typically hold anniversary parties, showers, birthday parties, and baptisms there.
Casella said the building’s inside renovations are close to being finished. New wood floors were laid down in mid March, while new air conditioning ducts were placed in the ceiling in June. Within the past couple years the hall has also added new tables, chairs, carpeting, a new ceiling, freshly painted walls, a new TV and more.
The outside renovations will still take a bit more time, Casella said. The two air conditioning units on the roof, and the roof itself, need to be replaced.
Each year, the Knights of Columbus takes in about $5,000 in donations toward the renovations, from six or seven fundraisers held throughout the year. These annual events include: the Elvis night; the fundraiser dinner for a past Grand Knight and the New Year’s Eve Gala.
According to Casella, the Elvis night typically brings in the most funds. This year, the Knights of Columbus will be combining that event with the annual New Year’s Eve Gala on December 31 at the nearby St. Frances de Chantal church. Every paid admission will be entered into the evening’s raffle for a chance to win $2,019. The Knights are expecting about 400 people to attend.
The Knights host at least two blood drives each year, gathering at least 50 pints each time, according to Casella. Members also hold four annual food drives.
Father Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus organization in 1882, and the Wantagh Knights of Columbus has been in its current building since the 1970s. The organization focuses on doing charitable works for its members and their families. Knights of Columbus members are also entitled to purchase life insurance for themselves, their spouse, their children, and their grandchildren. The proceeds from the insurance program “keep the order going,” according to Casella.
Brian Ferri, Knights of Columbus outside guard, said that the Knights of Columbus does a lot of work for the parishioners at St. Frances de Chantal. He said the organization will fix up houses and do yard work for them.
Casella said that one Saturday in July, the Knights went to a parishioner’s house for four to five hours, in 90-degree heat, to clean up the backyard. The Knights also helped out a parishioner who lost her husband about 3 years ago by getting her yard and house in order again, he said.
“That was our founder’s goal, to take care of the widows when the husband passes away, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Casella said. “We’re all about charity. Basically whatever we take, after we pair expenses, it all goes out to charity.”