The Liverpool Kinsmen are marking a significant milestone.
Established in 1945, the service organization has been making a difference in the community for 75 years.
Members gathered for a photo Saturday but chapter president Brian Godfrey said by necessity, they’re keeping the recognition low-key.
“Normally we would have had all the different service groups in town, the mayor and other members from other clubs would’ve been here but because of COVID-19 we couldn’t do anything other than what we are right now, letting people know what we do,” said Godfrey.
And what they do is significant to Liverpool.
Godfrey said since 1975 the organization has raised $900,000 to reinvest back into Queens County. The Kinsman have donated money to Queens General Hospital, Queens Place, air cadets, minor hockey and the legion, to name a few.
They are also closely involved in the schools.
“We donate out to the North Queens High School, we donate a $2,000 bursary out there, also, the milk program, the breakfast program out there, same as the schools here in town, we have a $2,000 bursary every year for a high school student,” said Godfrey. “We support the breakfast programs at the Wickwire and we also support the lunch programs at the middle school here in town.”
It’s not just opening a chequebook. The service group also pitches in their time to help where they’re needed during many events throughout the community.
Godfrey, who’s been a Kinsmen member since 1980 said while giving to your community you also get back.
“So it’s a personal learning experience for you too. It can help you down the road too. Like myself, treasurer, well now I’m treasurer here at QCCR, I’ve been treasurer for many, many different organizations but I learned through Kinsmen,” said Godfrey.
Shortly after he joined, the Kinsmen launched their long-running fundraiser TV Bingo. The program went mostly uninterrupted for the past 40 years until the pandemic hit earlier this year.
Godfrey estimates the organization lost around $15,000 when they had to halt production between March and September.
While losing that income was a hit to their coffers, in terms of logistics, it may have been a blessing in disguise.
To meet COVID-19 guidelines the Kinsmen moved the shooting location of their TV bingo from Brooklyn to a newly built studio in the Investors Group building on Milton road in Liverpool.
“We got a brand new studio, all digital and a lot more space. We like it there, easier access for people coming and going, especially some of our older members,” said Godfrey. “They have a difficult time getting up stairs. They don’t have to worry about that. So we do have some of the older ones said, yes we can work now because we don’t have to climb those steps back in in Brooklyn where the old studio was.”
Godfrey said when the Kinsmen started back in 1945 they boasted 50 members. The group now consists of 10 full-timers and two prospects.
He said most of the members have been with the organization for a long time, and they hope to expand those numbers. With the youngest member in their late-20s, they’re always recruiting.
“We don’t want to get together too often so we have a meeting once a month. It’s usually a cooked meal at someone’s house or outdoors somewhere,” said Godfrey.
He says while the pandemic has curtailed a lot of the work they would normally do during the year they continue to find ways to assist the community.
Their next project will be helping to put Christmas dinner on the table for a couple hundred families working alongside other community groups on the Christmas cheer box program.
“Our motto is serving the community’s greatest needs,” said Godfrey. “Where we see a need out there, we help out.”
Reported by Ed Halverson