Every community needs a local services club 27



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Source: Club Oatley

Have you ever performed voluntary service in your community, belonged to Lions, Rotary, Freemasons or any of the other ‘service’ clubs with which our towns and villages proliferate? If you have, you will be aware of the vital benefit these people provide, from running a local sausage sizzle to organising a container-load of hospital equipment to somewhere in Africa or India. Most of the members are just ordinary men and women, from all walks of life, but each with the desire to help someone else in need, in a way that also provides they themselves with a group of like-minded individuals to spend an occasional evening and a meal with. The service clubs are very much social organisations, which do fun things as well as raising money; they go on trips together, they play sports against other service clubs and they look for new ways to be of use, but as much as possible in an enjoyable way.

You don’t have to be rich to be a member of a service club, the idea isn’t to get money from you, not specifically anyway, it is to raise money in the community which can then be disbursed back into that community, sometimes in the way of help to individuals experiencing personal difficulties for one reason or another. Or it could be to raise the funds to build some much needed feature in the town, maybe a public toilet with facilities for the disabled, or a library, or a rotunda in a local park where a band might meet to play music on a Sunday afternoon. It could also be used to buy a new bed for a hospital or a rest house for the families of cancer patients. In fact, it could be used for almost anything, depending on the needs and desires of the local area.

Most smaller towns would find it very hard to exist at all these days, if it weren’t for the volunteers, not only from the service clubs, but the many other ways a community needs assistance – drivers to take elderly patients to the doctor or the hospital, volunteer firemen to extinguish fires and help at accidents, people to deliver the daily ‘meals-on-wheels, the Red Cross to provide first aid at local events and back-up the ambulance service, even the reading, into a tape recorder, of the main stories in the local newspaper, for blind people. The list could be almost endless, depending on the size and type of town; obviously a town in the middle of a forest area is likely to need assistance in different ways to one in the out-back, with no trees to be seen as far as the horizon!

Wherever you are these days, it is also a fact that people are living longer, and people who live longer need more care, as they make up a larger and larger proportion of the community. Sadly, many service clubs are starting to die of starvation, a starvation of new members, to take up the reins as the older existing members become unable to do the work any longer. It is a fact that the younger members of our communities seem much less inclined to join the service clubs these days. There just isn’t the strong ethic of service that was hammered into those of us born in the thirties and forties of the last century. I guess in those days, our parents, and to a lesser degree we ourselves, were still fairly close to the hard times of the twenties and early thirties, a time when many men were out of work with no way to feed their families, and the welfare state was something which had yet to arrive. In times like those everyone helped everyone, as much as anything because you never knew when you were going to need some assistance yourself!

Most of us are well protected now, but still that need exists, by people who are less fortunate and who somehow slip through the system, and require the help of volunteers to make life that little more bearable. The trick is to find younger people who are willing to help, not exactly an easy task at the present time, and meanwhile the old-timers are less able to assist, with each passing year!


Do you help out at your local RSL? How can we get younger people involved?

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Brian Lee

  1. I am 59 years young and volunteer 2 days a week at a local hospital. I am the youngest volunteer by about 15 years. None of our friends can understand why I am doing it. I can see volunteering of all descriptions becoming a thing of the past. Also with people having to work longer in the future that also means less volunteers.

    1 REPLY
    • Totally agree, with people working longer these days & in the future, who’s going to have time or energy to volunteer, I know after a full week of working the last thing I want to do is give up my bit of free time volunteering.

  2. The RSL’s are dying out, we have had many close their doors in my town, they can’t compete with the big clubs and the patronage are getting older and dying off

  3. They probably need a “makeover”, like many private clubs are doing!! Imagination is a great thing!!

  4. I believe the culture has not been handed down or is falling on deaf ears. Today’s society is all about self.

  5. Hervey Bay RSL is a good club, we visit from Central Queensland whenever we save enough for the petrol.

  6. Brian is not refering to RSL clubs in his blog. It is more to do with service clubs like Lions, Rotary etc. The concern being that in many towns the membership of these clubs is ageing and younger people are not taking up the reins to volunteer their services.

    1 REPLY
  7. Not so long ago everyone dressed nicely to go to the club, now we see bare feet and bare midrifs, torn and ill fitting clothes in what used to be a nice club, I used to look forward to getting a little bit dressed up for a night at the club, and bad language shoud not be allowed. The clubs all had signs about dress and language but is not enforced. I stopped going when the standards dropped so far down.

  8. Today people are just too busy working and I for one am not going to put my hard earned cash through those pinkie machines I can’t believe how many people do then say those machines owe them oh no they don’t just don’t do it unless your prepared to lose!!!

  9. I would love to have a social club somewhere in adelaide where you can just wander down buy a drink , meet up with your friends and lusten to some live music but mostly all we have is pubs. The eastern states are lucky

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