Tough times for Valley Stream clubs
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Like the Knights, the Garden Club was also faced with tough financial times. The organization had to pay $295 a year for insurance so it could use village facilities, and fees for guest speakers could run up to $250 per month. Dues, $40 per year, were no longer covering the costs, Walz said.
She said the village was willing to waive the insurance requirement if the Garden Club just hosted meetings, but then the ladies would not be able to do any activities, like maintaining the herb garden.
Walz said the ladies hope to continue to stay friends and get together regularly. “I enjoyed the camaraderie of people who had a common interest,” she said. “All of these people enjoyed the beauty of nature. I think that is my very best memory.”
She remains a member of the Valley Stream Civilian Patrol, a volunteer organization dedicated to protecting the community. That organization, too, has struggled with falling membership. Once 100 members strong, the Civilian Patrol now has about 25 active volunteers. Walz said she wants to see that group remain viable, and asks residents to consider volunteering as little as two hours per week to patrol the community.
History of the Knights
In 1926, local citizens, politicians and businesses got together to form the St. Therese the Little Flower Council No. 2622 at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Springfield Gardens, Queens. Two years later, the council moved into its first home, at the corner of 218th Street and 134th Avenue, where it remained for 21 years.
On June 6, 1949, the council moved to a new clubhouse at the corner of Terrace Place and Buscher Avenue in Valley Stream. Because of increasing membership, it moved to larger quarters, at 825 W. Merrick Road, in June 1965. In 1970, the building was expanded.
In the years after World War II, returning veterans swelled the ranks of the council membership, and it became a gathering place for Catholic men in search of a fraternal brotherhood.
Members of the council have been involved in community charities, local politics, scouting activities, Eagle Scout courts of honor, granting high school scholarships, and sponsoring men in the seminary and women in the convent. The late former mayor Dominick Minerva was a member of the council.
Eleven women met at the Decker Street home of Mary Villager on March 25, 1964, to form the Valley Stream Garden Club. Following the business meeting, Marie DeMarzo showed a collection of leaves commonly used for flower arranging, and Marion Thompson led a discussion on pruning roses and evergreens.
The organization was officially chartered on June 18, 1964. The Garden Club set the third Thursday of the month for its meetings, and dues were initially $3 per year. The Lily of the Valley was adopted as the club flower. Villager was elected the first president of the organization. For its first Christmas, the ladies made heirloom wreaths.
Over the years the club has had many meeting locations, including the American Legion hall, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, the Hendrickson Park administration building and the Firemen’s Field clubhouse.