It was sad news to see Danville’s Knights of Columbus chapter had decided to close its building on Bryan Avenue, the site for many special events and the popular Friday night fish fries during Lent. But it was good to see the group intends to continue its efforts to help people in the community.
Groups such as the Knights of Columbus already faced tough times even before COVID-19 restrictions forced them to cancel many of their activities.
A decline in interest from younger people and a growing trend of people spending more and more time at home had hit many community organizations hard. Groups such as American Legion posts, Lions Clubs, neighborhood associations and others just don’t seem to draw the same interest as they have in the past.
Today’s young people don’t join community groups as much as their parents or grandparents did in years gone by. The internet now creates community networks via electronic means — social media, virtual meetings and others — instead of by face-to-face communication.
Even the local Kiwanis clubs’ annual pancake day was different. Instead of thousands lining up at the David S. Palmer Arena to chow down on pancakes and sausage, supporters were able to buy tickets to be redeemed at local McDonald’s restaurants.
The Knights of Columbus have served the community since 1903. American Legion chapters opened their doors shortly after World War I. The Kiwanis, Rotary Clubs, Optimists, Lions and many other community service groups all have played a valuable role in the community for decades.
Those contributions provide help to those in need, provide a place for comradery and create many assets for the community. Just because a building closes or membership numbers decrease doesn’t mean that all must end.
The groups face a new challenge of recruiting younger members willing to step up and lend a hand. Traditional recruiting methods won’t reach today’s young people. Organizations that want to remain viable must learn to reach out in more effective ways.
Groups such as the Knights of Columbus help build a sense of community. They can bring us all together for the common good. They, and others like them, deserve everyone’s support.