About 50 people turned out for a ‘Meet & Greet’ dinner held last Saturday at the Masonic Hall. The purpose of the gathering was to provide area residents an opportunity to learn about local service clubs.

The Masons of California, the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners), West Stanislaus Fire District, the Order of the Eastern Star, Lions Club International, Beta Sigma Phi, Soroptimist International of Patterson, the Patterson-Westley Chamber of Commerce and Patterson Rotary Club were all in attendance, with information tables set up around the room, and members were on hand to answer questions.

Event organizer Xavier Guluarte said attendees enjoyed the food, as well as the set-up. The event also fostered discussion about collaboration between the various service groups, Guluarte said.

The group plans to hold a similar event in the future, and intends to invite local schools to attend. “I believe that it is important for students to be exposed to these service clubs, and be informed about the role the clubs play in the community,” Guluarte said.

“These are all individuals, volunteers that are a part of these clubs, that care about the community. They join because they are like-minded, and their actions have a positive impact on the community,” Guluarte added.

By all accounts, service club membership across the nation has been declining over the past few decades. Many reasons have been suggested for this, particularly attrition as current members age, and a lack of interest, and/or awareness, on the part of younger potential members.

However, service clubs meet critical needs that would probably go unmet otherwise, and change the lives of everyone involved for the better, in the process. They take needy children Christmas shopping, help make sure school kids receive eye exams, make sure children who need operations to be able to walk get them – at no cost, and their families can stay with them while they are in the hospital, for free.

Members of volunteer service groups fight fires, make sure kids get dictionaries, collect warm clothing for those who need it.

In short, people who volunteer in service clubs make other people’s lives easier, and better – and get back some pretty powerfully good feelings in the process.

Members of service clubs often form lifelong friendships; the bonds created and cemented by the powerful good feelings that can only come from helping someone else.

In fact, one of the best ways to feel better yourself is to do something good for someone else. With all of the talk about mental health these days, this is definitely something we would all be well-advised to keep in mind.

To help ‘spread the word’ about the clubs, groups, organizations and service opportunities on the West Side, the Patterson Irrigator will be featuring each in a series over the next while. We are currently compiling a list of these groups, and would greatly appreciate help from our readership to make sure we don’t leave anyone out. Please note we can only feature organizations with nonprofit, (IRS 501(c)3 status.

Please send information on your club or organization to: news@pattersonirrigator.com. Please provide the group’s name, its purpose and name(s) and contact information of leader(s). Bonus points if you include ‘success stories’.

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