Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fraternal organizations losing members

From the Daily News:

A bronze statue of an elk, now green due to decades of oxidation, stands guard in Elmhurst in front of a landmark commonly known as Elks Lodge No. 878.

For generations, the clubhouse hosted charitable and social gatherings until the Elks, whose dwindling membership no longer warranted such a vast space, sold it to a church a few years ago.

The Elks still meet next-door at a smaller facility. But many point to the group's exit from its Queens Blvd. base as a sign of a borough-wide downturn in fraternal organizations and service clubs.

Once signatures of many tight-knit communities across Queens, groups such as the Elks - known for camaraderie and charity work - are struggling to lure new blood and hang on to meeting spots.

Elks aren't alone. Other fraternal groups like the Masons are struggling, too, as are service clubs such as the Kiwanis, the Lions and the Rotary.

Locals fear that the weakening of such organizations diminishes civic pride, as does the demise of other middle-class institutions being profiled in the Vanishing Vintage Queens series.

From the Daily News:

Cutting through blocks of single-family homes in Forest Hills, Metropolitan Ave. embodies the main drags in small towns across the United States, thanks to a library, a post office and banks.

That atmosphere was once also exemplified by the Masonic lodge - until troubled finances forced the owners to sell in 2000 to a bank that then razed the lodge for a parking lot.

Gone is the meeting hall where Freemasons organized and hosted dances, dinners and charity events that signaled a civic pride many say is disappearing across Queens.

All that remains is the lodge's cornerstone, dated 1967, which was rescued by Jim Haddad, a Freemason who attended many functions there. He displays the memento in the yard of his Forest Hills Gardens home.

"The tombstones of fraternal organizations lie throughout Queens, which I suppose is appropriate given the number of graveyards we have," said Haddad, 46. "It really is a problem."


Anonymous said...

The fraternal organizations are not "vibrant" and "diverse," so they don't have a place in Queens anymore.

Will the last white person left in Queens please turn off the lights?

Snake Plissskin said...

This parallels the hollowing out of institutions across the borough.

If you want an opinion: ask a politician.

If you want funding: ask a politician.

If you want to know what is good and what is bad: ask a politician.

Its not racism: a community filled with transients, be it immigrants or hipsters, is a community firmly under the thumb of the machine.

ew-3 said...

I suspect that there is a cultural element as well. At one time Queens was full of WWII veterans and the people that worked in war industries. They shared a common and profound experience. They were Americans. It would have been un-American for Bloomy to even consider running for a 3rd term. The people wold have prevented it. If they could defeat Hitler, Bloomy could be stopped.

There is no common identity anymore, and that is not only true about NYC, but in most urban areas and increasingly so in suburban areas.

We need to reduce legal immigration and eliminate illegal immigration. We need to get out of the business of bringing in UN refugees like the Somalis.

Lastly, and this will make people laugh, we need to bring back the draft. While having a professional volunteer armed forces makes sense in many ways, the draft was the ultimate mixing pot for young men. In boot camp you have to learn to work with others; I came back to Queens with a slightly southern drawl after 3 months. The draft was a common shared experience for young men. Even Elvis Presley was not immune. When I was growing up I knew many people who had military service. It was common. Now, I am one of the very few.

Joe said...

Masons are A_ holes like most fraternal organizations. No great loss here. I had 3 working for me I caught them placing witchcraft things in my wall.
I also didn't like their handshake neither, the older guy "felt" my hand up and made strange movements with his fingertips.
Im beginning to think Masons are T Square yielding closet fags.

I do all my own work now, you can no longer trust people these days

Anonymous said...


right on target!

Anonymous said...

"ew-3 right on target!"

I want to agree with you guys, but tell me how old your children are right now. And how old you are.

ew-3 said...

My son is already in the service.

There are also options. Perhaps a new organization inside the US Army that was strictly for border defense.

And no exemptions. A 1 year tour beginning on the date of your choice from the day you turn 19 to the day you turn 20.

Another benefit - later college entrance. I went much later and am sure I got more out of it then I would have had I gone straight from high school. And when I was in college I noticed that the students that were older did quite a bit better.

ew-3 said...

Should add I went in the USN at the age of 17 just after leaving Brooklyn Tech in 1970.

Wish I were still young enough to get drafted ;)

LibertyBoyNYC said...

Mandatory public service is a good idea. I wouldn't make overseas duty compulsory, however. Plenty of domestic need for civil servants.

Anonymous said...

Queens is an address, not home.

Unknown said...

This is happening to the few organizations I belong to in queens too. When I ask friends why they don't come any more I've heard 2 main reasons/excuses
1. I get home from work so late now I don't have time to go out
2. Parking at XYZ is too hard to find.

Even though they didn't say it I'm sure more than a few of them feel its too expensive to keep the membership.

I think what really happened was a lot of organizations got members but then didn't continue to grow with membership drives etc. Without a constant influx of new members to take on responsibilities and give fresh ideas the group gets boring and less people come.

Anonymous said...

Is it any shock? Fraternal Organizations and volunteer groups support community relations and improvements.

New waves of immigrants want to take no part in community activities. Just isolate themselves form the rest of the world, and send their pay checks back home where they will "retire." There is no desire to help the community because they don not feel it is "their" community. Their real community is back "home"

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg destroyed this city for generations to come.