Dealing with COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for anyone, but service clubs have had an especially difficult time for a couple of reasons.

First, the whole reason for a service club to exist is to serve its community through fund-raising for special events and projects and, secondly, to enjoy fellowship with members. The China virus knocked the stuffing out of both of those elements. It is extremely difficult for a club to fund-raise when their standard operating procedure is to rub elbows with people, selling chili, having hog roasts, and providing some sort of person-to-person service.

And social distancing isn’t part of the mindset of a service club. Being social is.

And so service clubs in Albia are still trying to find their way out of the haze of COVID-19.

The Albia Rotary Club, perhaps the community’s most visible group next to Knights of Columbus and the American Legion, faced a double whammy. Their Tuesday noon lunch at Kendall Place was compromised because of food issues. A number of older members heeded warnings from the Iowa governor and the CDC and stayed home. Fewer people in attendance made it more difficult to find a caterer. On top of that, Kendall Place, where Rotary had met for years, was falling into disrepair.

So the club moved to the Albia Area Chamber of Commerce meeting room, ordered from a local restaurant and had members pick up the food.

Attendance fell from around 20 weekly to sometimes three or four members.

The pandemic also hit as the club was raising money for senior scholarships and building a dog park at the Albia Reservoir.

“We pretty much had our scholarships funded for 2020,” said President Tyler Boley. “But we found ourselves short of manpower building the dog park. Part of the fun and satisfaction of Rotary is building things together and our club has built playgrounds, shelter houses and basketball courts. It’s not the same with just two or three people helping out.”

The Albia club persisted, however, under Boley’s leadership and finished the park in late summer. “We were under some pressure to get it completed because most of the funding came from a Rotary Club grant and a large memorial contribution,” said Boley.

The club continued to meet unabated despite many other clubs in District 6000 shutting down or doing virtual meetings. Part of the challenge to meet weekly was met when the new Tasos Restaurant opened and invited the club to meet there Tuesdays at noon.

Fund-raising, however, has been a challenge. The club’s big fund-raisers included the Homecoming Hog Roast that was cancelled. “It just wasn’t going to work with the school having to limit attendance at the game,” said Boley. The other major fund-raising effort was selling Christmas wreaths. Christmas didn’t get cancelled, but the Victorian Stroll (a huge part of the sales effort) was greatly curtailed. Club members hustled to get the wreaths sold and it turned out successful.

Last Thursday, to help fund their senior scholarships, the club held a drive-through supper with food prepared by Tim Holmes. It was also successful with 150 meals served and about $1,000 earned for scholarships.

As people are vaccinated and herd immunity from COVID-19 is achieved, Boley hopes membership will return to more normal numbers. Having a place to meet and good food to eat at Tasos is a definite plus as the club moves forward.

Knights of

Columbus

juggle activities

Like Rotary Club, the Albia Knights of Columbus has felt the negative aspects of COVID-19. You could put up a pretty good argument that the Friday Lenten Fish Frys are some of the best-attended, most fun events in the life of the community.

Like a Methodist potluck, a KC fish fry is something you don’t want to miss. It is also one of the financial engines for the club that supports a number of Catholic and community charities.

When COVID-19 hit last March, the fish frys were cancelled. But the timing of opening up the state was darned near perfect in February of 2021. The first fish fry coincided with the Cystic Fibrosis fund-raising event and since then people have been coming to the KC Hall on Friday evenings to get their (mostly) takeout meals, although a few people are eating in.

Another big KC event is the annual youth free throw contest and those were cancelled for this year.

Monroe County Cattlemen last

to party before COVID-19 shutdown,

first to hold a wide open celebration

when governor opened up state

Monroe County Cattlemen probably don’t think they’re so lucky eyeing recent prices for the beef they produce, but in terms of COVID-19 they have pretty much ducked and dodged the pandemic.

The 2020 Cattlemen’s banquet was about the last big community fund-raising event held before Gov. Kim Reynolds shut the state down. And this year’s banquet was a huge success as the state was reopened. Clearly people are ready to move beyond a year of COVID-19 misery.

Cattlemen were also able to be a vital part of the Monroe County Fair’s beef show and had an amazing response to their fund-raising efforts through the Governor’s Charity Steer Show, raising over $8,600 for the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa. With the Iowa State Fair cancelled, the Cattlemen didn’t have the opportunity to work the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters, which is a major fund-raiser for the group.

Incredibly, the Cattlemen provided $7,000 to county high school and college students, donated $2,050 to the Albia Community School District Food Bank and $600 each to school food banks in Eddyville and Blakesburg.