Volunteer Clubs Abound in Southwest Louisiana
by Angie Kay Dilmore
As we’ve witnessed in the aftermath of the recent hurricanes, Southwest Louisiana is a community of helpers. They reach out to their neighbors, even strangers, and lend a hand, often putting others’ needs before their own. For those with a heart for service, there are clubs for that: Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions Club, the Junior League, and random folks with common interests who join together to make the Lake Area a better place.
The following are only a sample of the many local outlets for people to access volunteer opportunities and find fun and camaraderie.
Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. Every club is committed to service that is close to its heart and crucial to its community. To ensure their mission moves forward, they have created award-winning programs for people of all ages and abilities. They also join in global projects to effect change in communities around the world. Some clubs partner with local Key Clubs in area high schools and colleges. The only Circle K International (CKI) club in the area is at McNeese State University.
There are several Kiwanis Clubs throughout the region. Kiwanis of South Contraband meet weekly for lunch and members hear from community organizations, leaders, businesses, and more. They donate nearly $15,000 annually to various projects in our community. Full or Associate memberships are available based on member availability. For more information, contact Club President Robin Basone at 337-764-0389 or see their website sw-contraband.kiwanisone.org, or their Facebook page, @KiwanisSouthwestContraband.
The Aktion Club is a co-sponsored Kiwanis group and is the only community-service club for adults living with disabilities and allows members to develop leadership qualities in serving their communities.
Other local Kiwanis include:
Lake Charles – Elizabeth Leone – 337-433-3620
South Lake Charles – David Shamia – 337-433-3620
West-Cal – W.C. Hayes – 337-496-4335
DeRidder – Ronnie Marshall – 337-462-8354
Jennings – Chanyon Robinson – 337-824-3424
No contact info was available for the clubs in Calcasieu, North Lake Charles, and Sulphur.
The Junior League of Lake Charles dates back to 1933 and promotes voluntarism, develops the potential of women, and improves the community through various programs, funding, and volunteer training. The Children’s Museum, Family and Youth Counseling, the Lake Charles Symphony, Calcasieu Community Clinic and many other invaluable organizations were conceptualized, created, funded, and gifted to SWLA by the women of the JLLC. Total membership includes over 600 civic-minded Southwest Louisiana women who provide over 5,000 volunteer hours a year.
JLLC membership is open to women who reside in SWLA and are at least 22 years old. Membership opens each spring for the following League Year, beginning in September. For more information about the Junior League or how to join, please contact Melanie Breaux at 337-436-4025 or see their website, www.jllc.net.
Seven Slot Society of SWLA is a social and service organization for Jeep enthusiasts/owners. It was formed in 2014 by President Jared Chandler and his friend Russ Conrad, who “cooked it all up in his kitchen on some late nights, along with food and several beers!” They wanted a club that was community oriented and inclusive to all. “It doesn’t matter if you like to go rock crawling in your Jeep or keep it on the pavement, you belong,” says Chandler. Meetings are held once a month, usually at local businesses or restaurants. They host several off-road trips throughout the year – one in Hot Springs, Arkansas in May and another to Moab, Utah in August. They participate in local charity events with groups like Brennan’s Blessings. Dues are $20 annually and an application can be found on sevenslotsocietyofswla.com or on their Facebook page. Chandler encourages anyone interested to come checkout a meeting!
The Lake Charles Happy Hour Rotary Club is a community service club established in 2016. The club is known for service projects like The Little Free Pantry, yard cleanups with the Autism Society of SWLA, Christmas Gift Wrap at the Women’s Shelter, and several other community projects. For those with fun in mind, people may know the club from the St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl. Proceeds from this event help serve the community. Happy Hour Rotary Club is part of the larger Rotary International umbrella and is one of 14 Rotary Clubs throughout SWLA. Go to www.rotary6200.org for more information on other SWLA Rotary Clubs. Rotary members are a group of like-minded individuals who have a heart for helping their community. For more information or to join the Lake Charles Happy Hour Rotary Club, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. They meet Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.
Benefits of Volunteering & Service
Improved mood. There is no better feeling than serving your local community and bringing hope and opportunity to families, neighbors, and friends.
Leadership opportunities. Take the lead on service projects or opportunities within your club and grow from the experiences of motivating others.
Fellowship. Get together and network with like-minded people.
Better health. Research shows that helping others makes us happier and more satisfied in life.