Courtesy Mamie Eng
Despite Dwindling membership, members of the club have decorated the tree at the Waldinger Library every Christmas. Dorothy Walz, second from left, was the group’s final president.
The end of an era has come for two long-time Valley Stream organizations suffering from declining membership and financial struggles. The Garden Club, which has been around for nearly 50 years, disbanded last month. The Knights of Columbus Council No. 2622 is faring a little better — it will continue to operate, but has to sell its building.
Valley Stream has dozens of community organizations, representing veterans, seniors, businesses, service, youth sports, the cultural arts, civic interests and more. In the past, several organizations have fallen by the wayside. The biggest challenge has been a struggle to attract younger members to keep groups viable.
That was the challenge for the Garden Club, whose youngest members were in their early 60s. The group was down to just 10 members when it officially dissolved last month.
“It was so sad,” said Dorothy Walz, the club’s president for the past seven years. “Every club has been dwindling in membership. The young people now are all working one, two, three jobs. Women aren’t home. It’s just the way that it is.”
Walz said the club had an infusion of new members a few years ago when the Cedarhurst/Woodmere Garden Club shut down after 75 years. But most of those people eventually left and the Valley Stream club continued to shrink. “I could see the handwriting on the wall that we were going to disband,” Walz said.
The St. Therese the Little Flower Council of the Knights of Columbus, which formed in 1926, has been located in Valley Stream since 1949. It moved into its current hall, on West Merrick Road at Ivanhoe Place, in 1965. That building is now up for sale.
“We’re just about out of money,” said Grand Knight James Cunningham, noting that there is a $65,000 annual tax bill on the property. “We have to give it up because we can no longer afford to keep it.”
The asking price for the facility, which has a bar, large party room, kitchen and offices, is $800,000, but Cunningham said the price is negotiable. He explained that the Knights need to make enough to pay the back taxes on the property, and hopefully have some money left over. “We’re trying to get as much as we can because we have obligations to pay off,” he said.