Terrace’s annual Kids Day at the Park may be coming to an end as its hosts, the Royal Purple Elks, struggle to stay afloat.
The Royal Purple Elks have been running the popular event at Elks Park for almost 50 years, but as members age or pass away, they don’t have enough people to help organize it.
“We need the bodies, we need the volunteers which is where we’re lacking. That’s what we’re streaming for right now,” says member Suzette Lamke. “[We] are very proud of what we do and also at the same time very sad because we are on the verge of losing this… It’s really hard to bring in young energetic people and the bottom line is that if we don’t get them, then we’ll have to close.”
Although they have enough funding to financially support themselves, their biggest concern is the numbers.
Lamke says currently they only have five active members and need at least 10 to put on Kids Day in the Park and other events throughout the year, such as their annual Santa’s Breakfast. Many of their members are at an age where they’re simply unable to keep up with the roles.
“[At the event], you need people for the food, the gift bags, games, get the tables there, get the food there, set up, take down… there are about five committees to organize this,” says Sharon Daumont, Royal Purple Elks’ president. “If we don’t have new members coming into help, it’s always the same ones doing it over and over again, so we get burnt out.”
Daumont says it’s been difficult to entice youth as other organizations have already recruited them or they’re simply not interested in volunteering.
“We have had some young members coming at one time but for some reason, they quit. I guess we’re not exciting enough because we’re still set in our old ways, but we’ve come a long way in trying to accommodate the younger members because seniors have a hard time changing,” she says. “Us old organizations are losing… it’s very sad, we’re still fighting.”
Previously, the local air cadets, scouts and girl guides have stepped in to volunteer for the Royal Purple Elks, but Daumont says it’s not sustainable to keep them going as they have to find a way to also maintain the Elks Lodge, their society’s headquarters on Tetrault Street.
The building belongs to the Terrace Royal Elks of Canada, who nearly folded two years ago as many of their members had fallen ill or passed away. They merged with the Terrace Royal Purple of Canada, their female-counterpart auxiliary, to keep them from closing down.
“If the Elks close, then we lose the hall and basically lose everything so that’s why we merged, to save the Royal Purples and Elks — but we’re still drowning,” says Daumont.
She adds that the Elk Lodge itself needs maintenance and it would be out of their budget to hire someone to do it. They depend on volunteers for repairs and maintenance.
The venue is available to be rented out for events, but because they don’t have enough members to qualify for a liquor license — their hall is often overlooked, especially for weddings, Daumont says.
Along with running community events, the Terrace Royal Purple Elks also do a lot of fundraising to help support local charities and children with disabilities in the province.
“That’s what we do, that’s what we’re about. We’re here for the kids and for the community.”