Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 28, 2005
Knights bidding farewell to casino fundraising
Fraternal order finds alternative ways to fund its projects
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Alberta Knights of Columbus are slowly but surely abandoning casinos as a fundraising method.
Construction projects and family oriented activities are now replacing the profitable casinos, where a K of C council can easily make $30,000 or more on a weekend.
"We have been very successful in finding other ways of raising funds," said K of C spokesperson Ron Schuster, who estimates that more than 60 per cent of the jurisdiction's 172 councils are doing alternative fundraising.
"And I'm not saying that the other 40 (per cent) are doing casinos or not; I don't know that for a fact but the response we are getting is that most of the councils have found other ways of raising funds."
Schuster is the former chair of a Knights' committee organized to find ways of raising money other than with casinos. He and his committee provided a number of ideas to the Knights and now he is paying close attention to what's happening in terms of alternative fundraising.
"There are a number of councils that have abandoned casinos but the exact number is not known at this time," Schuster said. What is known is that councils are doing everything under the sun without having to resort to casinos.
"They are providing social functions at the parishes, they are putting on dinners and dances and some are even doing plays where they charge an admission," he said. "I know some of the councils have made little skits up and they have a dinner and a skit and a dance; some have potluck suppers and they are inviting people for a certain cost."
According to Schuster, the state membership and retention director for Edmonton, some councils are building houses or renovating houses and then selling them as a way of raising funds.
"And then some are building garages, some are building decks and some are building fences," he said.
"If you want a garage done, you buy the material and the Knights of Columbus will come out and they'll give you an estimate and if you agree to the terms and conditions of that particular council then they'll build a garage for you." Most of the knights involved in construction activities are certified tradesmen.
State Deputy Peter Wong could not be reached for comment.
Some K of C councils in Edmonton are involved in an activity called Catch the Wave, a family activity which involves selling tickets for West Edmonton Mall's Waterpark for a specific date at a reduced rate to customers and still making a substantial profit.
The Knights get the tickets at a "very reasonable rate" from WEM because they buy them by bulk, explained Schuster. The next Catch the Wave will be held Jan. 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
These activities may not bring money in as fast as a casino would but do bring the brother knights closer together.
"They are all together and they are doing something that is good for the community and is well recognized," Schuster said.
"Casinos don't do any good for the community. They just take values and things of that nature away from the community, away from families. I think the Knights don't want to be part of that anymore."
The 15,000-member Alberta Knights of Columbus began pulling away from casinos as a fundraising method last year at the urging of the Alberta bishops.
The bishops began cracking down on casinos and bingos as fundraising methods years ago, arguing that these activities have become more than entertainment and are a threat to people's livelihoods.
False Eden of Gambling
In their 1998 pastoral letter on gambling, The False Eden of Gambling, the bishops said gambling reflects neither Gospel values nor Christian inspiration as many marriages and families have been hurt or destroyed by the practice.
In 2003 Calgary Bishop Fred Henry asked all Church organizations to refrain from holding casinos and bingos.
Last year the Knights decided they would fundraise only through methods that encourage family unity and community involvement. And in order to assist the councils through the transition, they put together a six-member committee that looked at alternate ways of fundraising.
"I think the Knights want to be more of a community-oriented organization that helps citizens," said Schuster, who headed the committee.
"And it's working. They councils are getting their money. They are getting their $40,000, $50,000, and $60,000 a year by doing other various functions. It's taking a little longer but there is no question in my mind and in the committee's mind that it's much more rewarding; it's much more rewarding for the council, much more rewarding for the brother knights and much more rewarding for the community."
The Knights use most of their funds to support church and community projects.