Community organizations see decline in membership

RENO, Nev (KOLO) Both parents are working. Their kids have numerous activities. Those were excuses for not joining a community organization 30 years ago.

One Reno Elks Club member says you can make time. That’s if what the community organization does is important to you.

There is a lot of history and tradition at the Reno Elks Club. It is 100 years old.

Dave Pressler became a member in 1976 when there were 5,000 members. That number has gone down to 1400. Pressler says, under the circumstances, they are doing quite well.

“We are probably the fastest growing lodge in the state; a lot of that is the result of this facility,” says Pressler, president of the Nevada State Elks Association.

Pressler takes us for a tour of the facility. A bar, a commercial kitchen and pool. Women were allowed to become members in the 1990s. There is a kids' room.

But what Pressler hopes attracts members is the community service the Elks provide through scholarships, charity work, and comfort for veterans.

“We have a Boy Scout troop. We have many of the charitable activities that I mentioned. So we are a very, very busy group,” says Pressler.

“And the motto for the Lions is "we serve." So that gave me the opportunity to do that,” says Suraj Zutshi.

Zutshi is president of the Greenbrae Lions Club. While he says his group too does a lot of charity work year-round, it makes no difference if you can't work around members' schedules.

“So yes, we also, we have to be flexible. There are a lot of old timers who, no it is 7:30 in the morning every week. You gotta be there. Nope. We don't. So anyone listening out there, yes, you are welcome when you can,” says Zutshi.

Statewide the Lions Club has more than 1200 members. They do not require a background check or sponsors like the Elks do.

But both organizations list giving back to the community as the cornerstone of their operations.