McGregor K of C Hall fighting to stay alive

 

By Ron Giofu

When the board operating the McGregor K of C Hall found it was on the road to closure, it found a detour that has left the board and hall users alike confident shutting down can be avoided.

Robin Beaune, a director on the Columbian Club board that runs the roughly 70-year-old hall, is also Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus St. Clement Council 2844. He said even though the hall is struggling, no one is giving up.

Beaune said the Knights of Columbus and the Columbian Club are working together and optimistic the fortunes of the hall can be reversed.

That means new events are being planned and tough decisions are being made.

“The economy just isn’t there anymore,” said Beaune. “The things we’ve done in the past, I guess you could say, don’t work like they used to.”

Beaune stated they are changing the way they do business to try and bring more people in and increase revenue.

“We’re trying to get on our feet again.”

The McGregor K of C Hall, located on Walker Road, was compared to a “community centre” with volunteer numbers increasing to run the events and perform jobs at the hall.

“This place was built on the backs of volunteers,” said Beaune.

Volunteers are also helping to manage the facility as current financial situation forced a layoff.

“We had to do something no one wanted to do and let the manager go and eliminate the position,” he said.

It will take time to dig the hall out of debt but reiterated confidence the hall is “going to survive and move forward.”

 

Robin Beaune, Grand Knight of K of C St. Clement Council 2844 in McGregor, stands inside the hall last Wednesday night. He also sits on the Columbian Club board and both groups remain optimistic they can turn the financially struggling McGregor K of C Hall around.

Robin Beaune, Grand Knight of K of C St. Clement Council 2844 in McGregor, stands inside the hall last Wednesday night. He also sits on the Columbian Club board and both groups remain optimistic they can turn the financially struggling McGregor K of C Hall around.

A partnership with nearby St. Ursula School on pasta and soup days has resumed. The hall is also  hosting seniors dances, card games and Sunday breakfasts. Other events planned include an Elvis night March 23, golf tournaments and baseball tournaments. A recent bluegrass music event drew 290 people with other new bookings coming in.

Pledges are also being asked for and they also hope to host bingos on a regular basis in the future.

“In all possibility, there is a chance (of closure),” said Beaune. “That’s why we’re fighting for our lives right now. We’re fighting to survive and we’re very positive we will. Somehow, we’ll find a way. It’s a matter of straightening things out and getting things in order. There’s too many people that don’t want to leave this (hall).”

While closure isn’t imminent, Beaune speculated the Knights would approach St. Clement Church about becoming a parish council and operate out of the church basement if it does happen.

Current membership in the K of C St. Clement Council 2844 is roughly 430, said Beaune. The council normally likes to concentrate on charity work while the Columbian Club concentrates on the hall itself.

Another event planned is the Feb. 16 “Knight to Save the Hall.” It is being organized by K of C member Evan Belanger and his wife Laura.

Laura, a counsellor for the Squirettes youth group, said members were first called together last June where they were informed numbers were down at the hall.

“They told us we are going to have to pick it up to get revenue up,” she said.

After an update was given in January, the fundraiser was planned.

Losing the hall would be devastating to the McGregor community, not to mention the Knights, Ladies Auxiliary, the Squires and Squirettes, she suggested. Laura believes programs could be jeopardized by a closure.

Belanger said she and Evan have family histories tied to the hall including her father being a former Grand Knight.

“We’ve been in it so long, it’s become part of us. It’s part of our lives,” she said. “It would be like losing your family and your roots. It’s something, when you grow up with it, you’d be lost without it. You just know how good it is.

“It’s like a feeling of community. We’d lose a landmark if (the hall) closed,” Laura continued. “McGregor would lose something they should be very proud of.”

The goal of the “Knight to Save the Hall” is a sellout and a final fundraising total of $10,000. Tickets are $20 each and include dinner, a cash bar, entertainment and raffles.

Doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the K of C Hall in McGregor. For information, contact the hall at 519-726-6494 or the Belangers at 519-776-7972.

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