Community, service groups facing uncertain times

By Casey S. Elliott -

Editor’s Note: This series of stories examining apathy looks at community and service groups in Champaign County and how some are keeping their doors open and others have closed for various reasons or are nearing closure.

Residents considering joining a community or service group in Champaign County are starting to see those options dwindle as groups lose membership.

While some groups are riding high on membership for different reasons, others have closed or face closure from membership decline.

One such group that closed is the American Association of University Women of Champaign County, which ended its run in 2015.

“We made the choice to quit,” said Lee Henderson, a former member of the group. “All of our members were involved in other areas where we serve the community.”

AAUW is a national group that supports women’s education, largely through scholarships. The local chapter focused on supporting women whose education had been “interrupted,” such as those who had children and took a break from school. The local chapter had been around for decades before it closed. At time of closure, it had about 12 members, Henderson said.

Members started having difficulty holding fundraising events when there were similar scholarships out there from other groups in the community, she said. Members started feeling like they were duplicating their efforts.

“All of us are very much involved in the community,” she said. “We were fundraising in competition with many other worthy causes. It got to be time consuming.”

Henderson said many of the group members were also in the local Soroptimists group, which did scholarships for women.

“Some members had two scholarships (from different organizations) they were raising money for,” shes aid.

It was getting difficult to find people to join and help share the burden, especially when it was largely focused on just the scholarships.

“When you don’t have much reason for existing, it’s hard to find people,” Henderson said. “There has to be more to it than that.”

And it was difficult to bring in members because of conflicting time demands. Henderson said a lot of newer members were young parents juggling jobs, children and activities.

The next installment will look at groups facing potential closure due to declining membership.

By Casey S. Elliott

Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.

Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.

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