Di­verse ser­vice

Em­blem Club’s large mem­ber­ship al­lows for va­ri­ety of com­mu­nity work

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Serving Others -

At 195 mem­bers strong, Hot Springs Em­blem Club No. 194 is one of the largest na­tion­wide. It is one of only two in Arkansas; the only other club is in Mena.

With the large, ac­tive mem­ber­ship, the club per­forms a va­ri­ety of ser­vices for nu­mer­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions in Hot Springs and Gar­land County. The club was char­tered in 1950 and hasn’t looked back since, says Pres­i­dent Sherry Miller.

“We stand strongly for Amer­i­can­ism and work hard to sup­port our vet­er­ans and their pro­grams. We do the USO show at the mall and take part in the Vet­er­ans Day pa­rade here, and we also clip a lot of coupons and send them to a mil­i­tary base in Ger­many. They are worth thou­sands of dol­lars, and the PX honors them even if they are out­dated,” Miller said.

The Em­blem Club meets twice a month at the Elks Lodge, on the first and third Tues­day. The first is the busi­ness meet­ing, which starts at 7 p.m., and the sec­ond one is a so­cial din­ner with danc­ing, which be­gins at 6:30 p.m.

“We pro­mote a lot of friend­ship, ca­ma­raderie and work­ing to­gether on projects. That has helped us be­come so suc­cess­ful and di­verse in our com­mu­nity work,” Miller said.

Em­blem Club mem­bers visit The Caring Place the first Mon­day of the month, bring­ing the pa­tients cook­ies and cup­cakes, putting on pro­grams, and even get­ting them up to dance.

“I danced with one lady who must have been a good dancer sev­eral years ago. She kicked so high that she al­most got my nose,” Miller re­called, with a laugh.

Club mem­bers do par­ties for the stu­dents at the First Step School, in par­tic­u­lar Valen­tine’s Day, Easter, Hal­loween and Christ­mas. Ev­ery fifth Wed­nes­day, mem­bers are on hand at the Jack­son House to help out with meals.

“We also en­joy pass­ing out Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets. We did 71 this past hol­i­day,” Miller said. “The mem­bers have got­ten into the habit of bring­ing a few items at ev­ery meet­ing through­out the course of the year, par­tic­u­larly canned items, so by the time Thanks­giv­ing rolls around, we have ev­ery­thing we need to put them to­gether.”

Miller said club mem­bers also take food to the jail work­ers at the Gar­land County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment. In many in­stances, when the club pro­vides food for a club mem­ber who has had a death in the fam­ily, there are a lot of left­overs. In­stead of let­ting them go to waste, they are taken to the jail­ers.

“They love to see us come in,” she said.

Used cloth­ing is also taken to Barb’s Place to help in that area.

The Em­blem Club doesn’t over­look aca­demics, ei­ther. De­pend­ing on avail­able fund­ing, three to seven $500 schol­ar­ships are awarded each spring to stu­dents who plan to at­tend a school in Gar­land County, whether it is Na­tional Park Com­mu­nity Col­lege, or a beauty or a bar­ber school. Miller said many of the re­cip­i­ents go into nurs­ing. A na­tional and state Em­blem Club Schol­ar­ship also goes to the fam­ily of club mem­bers.

Club mem­bers also help with the lit­er­acy pro­gram by read­ing to stu­dents at Langston El­e­men­tary, and reg­u­lar vis­its are made to Oua­chita Chil­dren’s Cen­ter.

To raise funds for these projects, Miller said the club en­gages in sev­eral ac­tiv­i­ties that pro­vide a lot of fun for the mem­ber­ship.

“We have a style show ev­ery Novem­ber, and last year we had a ’50s party, com­plete with a juke box and a silent auc­tion. Our va­ri­ety show and din­ner (was held) Feb. 18 and 19, where we will have a lip sync con­test,” Miller said. “We also have a big Christ­mas party and raf­fle, and we sell a lot of cook­books with recipes from our mem­bers. We have a lot of di­ver­sity and find ways to make a pos­i­tive im­pact in the com­mu­nity.”

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