Tough times for Valley Stream clubs

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The council has had fewer and fewer bookings for its party room in recent years, creating the shortfall. Last year, Cunningham said, the organization was only able to pay its regular bills. The taxes became unaffordable.

Over the years, membership in the council has fallen from more than 800 to about 300. Cunningham said he attributes the decline to changing demographics in the area. The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic-based service organization.

The group has been spared the fate of having to disband, and meetings are now being held at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. Cunningham said the pastor was very generous in allowing the Knights to use the a downstairs room for its monthly meetings.

Valley Stream’s other Knights of Columbus chapter, the Father Thomas Carroll Council, sold its hall on Rockaway Avenue several years ago before moving into a rented storefront south of Sunrise Highway.

Cunningham said he hopes that once the building is sold, the council will be able to strengthen itself. When the debt is paid off, Cunningham said, the organization can get a fresh start, work to recruit new members and perhaps even host occasional social affairs.

The Knights donate to various charities, provide scholarships for children and grandchildren of members and sponsor seminarians. Cunningham said that the group’s charitable work has dwindled because of its financial troubles, so being back on solid footing would allow it to resume its true mission.

The Garden Club’s mission will be no more. The group regularly hosted guest speakers on a variety of subjects, ranging from flowers to edible herbs. The ladies have maintained an herb garden at the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration, Valley Stream’s local-history museum, for more than 50 years. And every December they have decorated the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library for the holidays.

That was a favorite activity for the members, Walz explained, but it has become more of a challenge with the club’s inability to attract new members. “It’s the aging of the group,” she said. “I’ve had both hips replaced and I’m the one who climbs up on the chair to do the top of the tree.”
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