One of the saddest facts of 21st century life is how no one is mourning the demise and absence of service clubs.
Not that no one misses when Jaycees and Kiwanis and Sertoma members and their sort break up their groups. Those active within the groups at any point definitely miss when the organizations disband.
But too many of those members have moved away, or grown tired of being ignored and disregarded.
The Decatur Breakfast Sertoma Club voted to dissolve its branch effective Sept.30. It followed the dissolving of the Noon Sertoma Club in 2017.
Decatur still has its share of service clubs, including Golden K Kiwanis, Decatur Early Birds, Decatur Noon Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks, Eagles, Lions, Altrusa and more. For a list and contact information, see bit.ly/hrservicegroups.
Service clubs exploded in the 1910s, leaving most of them in excess of 100 years old today. The decline has been most precipitous since the 1970s, when many local service groups had member counts in triple figures.
Service organizations were the norm. They provided a source of socialization and an outlet for help to and in the community. It was networking before we came up with a word for that.
Some companies even require participation in service groups as part of a person’s employment. Service groups create a connection to the community, allowing workers to better understand the community they are living in and the people they are serving, while possibly creating a bond that gives a person a reason to make the community their forever home.
As time went on, the average age of the membership went up while the size of the membership declined. Club membership got to the point where its membership was largely retirees with the time on their hands and the desire to their communities.
We haven’t always realized or appreciated the full extent of the contributions of organizations and the individuals who comprised them.
One of the problems is no alternative has emerged. Volunteers are still out there. We see them and their works every day. But the younger among us seem to have abandoned the traditional idea of service groups.
We know Decatur and Macon County have their share of volunteers, and we see and feature their work on a regular basis. But we share the sadness of those who have seen their organizations’ demises.
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