May Court Club of Chatham looks to the year ahead

May Court Club Chatham (photo via maycourtchatham.ca)

After hosting the club’s biggest meeting of the year, the May Court Club of Chatham is gearing up for what’s to come.

Founded in 1898, the May Court Club — one of Canada’s oldest service clubs — is a not-for-profit organization that aims to address community needs through volunteering and fundraising. The local branch, originally known as the Brightside Club, joined the Affiliated May Court Clubs of Canada in 1935.

During the club’s annual general meetings, members from the club’s various branches meet up to review the year and to brainstorm fundraising ideas. This year, the meeting was held in Chatham on May 4. Kristen Stevens, president of the local May Court Club, said it was a productive weekend.

“It was wonderful, it really was,” she said. “There’s nine clubs in Ontario and we had members from every club and the vice president or delegate from every club come.”

The meeting also provides the clubs with the chance to discuss how charity and fundraising initiatives are going. The Chatham branch has several regular charity activities including a lunch box program that services 26 schools in Chatham-Kent and they also host a large annual fundraising event.

Later this month, the club will vote on next year’s fundraising function. Although Stevens can’t say what it is yet, she promises it will be good.

“I wish I could tell you what we’re going to do for next year, but I don’t really know until it’s voted in,” she explained. “It was very popular last time and I actually had emails and phone calls from people asking when we’re going to do it again.”

The clubs also take time during the meeting to discuss obstacles within the organization. According to Stevens, fundraising is getting harder for smaller organizations like the May Court Club.

“It is getting more difficult,” she said. “There seems to be more popping up all the time, there used to be your basic fundraisers every year and now there’s more. There’s more competition for money for charities.”

Another challenge the club tackles is membership sign-ups. Stevens said the Chatham branch stays steady with around 75 members, but they are always welcoming new faces.

“We are always looking for people,” said Steves. “It’s important to maintain our membership, to get new members, new enthusiasm, new ideas, ways to raise money or help the community.”