Community Service in Retirement

July 29, 2011

Membership and active participation in a community service club or organization can benefit you personally as well as your community. Most will provide the opportunity for satisfaction from:

• accomplishing something worthwhile e.g. helping your community or the environment; raising money for scholarships community  parks, playgrounds, senior citizen programs and medical care for those in need,
• meeting new people,
• making friends,
• learning new skills etc.

While there are a variety of national organizations – some are described below – there are also thousands of local or regional organizations. Look in your “yellow pages” or type in your area of interest and location into your web browser.

Some of the clubs that have a significant “fraternal” aspect to them, in addition to their community service activities, may have some membership requirements, e.g. being recommended by a current member, being a US citizen or of a minimum age. These are not usually burdensome.

Ever wonder what the Elks, Kiwanis, Lions, Moose and Rotarians do?

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks Of the USA (BPO Elks)

The BPO Elks organization dates its founding to 1868 in New York City. Today its nearly 1.2 million men and women are organized into Lodges in almost 2,200 communities.

The BPO Elks are involved in a wide range of charitable and patriotic activities with particular focus on youth, patriotic and disaster recovery programs. They support scouting, scholarships, 4-H clubs, youth athletics, drug awareness, veterans, flag day and civic pride programs among others.

Learn more at:

Kiwanis International

“Serving the Children of the World” is a major theme of the Kiwanis. Their motto is “We build.”

The name “Kiwanis” was adapted from an Otchipew (Native American) term “Nunc Kee-wanis” meaning: “We make a noise.” Kiwanis Club service projects focus on a wide variety of areas with a particular focus on young children. Children’s program can address needs in pediatric trauma, safety, health care, nutrition, of iodine deficiency disorders, development and other areas. Other Kiwanis programs focus on the broader needs of the community including substance abuse prevention, elder care, youth sports programs, literacy and disaster response among others.

Learn more at

Lions Clubs International

“We serve” is the stated mission of the Lions Clubs International. There are more than 44,000 clubs. The organization was founded in 1917 in Illinois by a group of business organizations which agreed that community service should be a important part of their activities.

While Lions Clubs have community service programs in a wide variety of areas, they are known in particular for their service to the blind and visually impaired. In 1925, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to be “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” The Lions Clubs have responded with a number of programs to assist the visually challenged including recycling of eyeglasses, financial support for individuals who require cataract surgery and educational programs on diabetic eye disease and glaucoma.

Other Lions Clubs activities include providing assistance to the hearing impaired, diabetes awareness and education materials, environmental projects and youth programs.

Learn more at:

Moose International

Moose International is composed of two main units: the Loyal Order of Moose (for men) and the Women of the Moose (not for men).
The organization was founded in the late 1800’s and was originally a social institution for men. A women’s organization was added early in the 1900’s. Today the combined organizations have approximately 1.6 million members organized into one of 2,000 Lodges (men) and 1,600 Chapters (women) throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Bermuda.

Moose International owns and operates Mooseheart, a home and school in Illinois for children in need as well as Moosehaven in Florida for Moose men and women of retirement age. While continuing to provide a fraternal environment, Moose International is also involved in a wide variety of community service activities.

Learn more at

Rotary International

“Service Above Self” is the Rotary motto. There are more than 30,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 106 countries world-wide. The name “Rotary” come from the fact that the initial meetings of the organization in the early 1900’s would “rotate” among members’ homes.

Rotarians have been a major force in the elimination of polio world-wide, both through fund-raising and through volunteers who have assisted in immunization efforts. Other Rotary efforts are directed at children’s’ issues, poverty, hunger, improving literacy, reducing violence and promoting world understanding through international humanitarian service programs and educational and cultural exchanges.

Learn more at:

What if you can’t find an organization that meets your needs? You might consider starting one. This is probably not something you want to do entirely on your own. But if you can find several other folks with a similar interest(s), you could be the catalyst for bringing them together. This could result in an informal ad hoc collaborative effort or perhaps it could into an ongoing organization with bylaws, officers, annual plan, a budget, fund-raising, and maybe even a convention!

Need help in getting your fledgling organization organized? Type “organizing a club” into your browser to see how other folks have done it or visit your local library for a book on the topic.

R. Kevin Price

© 2008-2011 R.K. Price