The Goodfellows Club of Owensboro is celebrating 100 years of service, and the community is invited to attend a reception 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
The Goodfellows Club is a local volunteer, non-profit organization that provides disadvantaged school children with clothing, emergency dental care, medical services and an annual Christmas Party.
The organization works closely with family and youth resource centers at area schools to identify children with the greatest needs, serving approximately 2,000 every year. The Goodfellows Club has been reaching out to Owensboro-Daviess County’s less fortunate children since 1916 to serve basic needs and give all children the chance to thrive at school and ultimately in life.
“We are extremely grateful to the community for the enduring support of the Goodfellows Club,” said Goodfellows president-elect Tracy McQueen. “It is very gratifying to live in a community with such caring people.”
It all began with a newspaper article.
During the bitterly cold winter of 1916, a young newspaper reporter learned that the Christmas parties for needy children would cease. The young ladies of the Charity Girls, who hosted the parties since 1911, were married now, with families of their own, and were disbanding the group.
As he sat at his typewriter, however, the reporter – Lawrence Hager – decided to change that story. Rather than reporting that the parties would end, he decided to continue the tradition himself.
On Christmas morning, he went to the local theatre where the party was to be held and found a line of children eagerly waiting. He was stunned to see children shivering in the cold, wearing thin shirts and trousers; some were barefoot.
Hager quickly contacted local merchants, and loads of warm clothing, long underwear, shoes and jackets were swiftly delivered to the theatre.
It was a Christmas never forgotten by those children – or by Lawrence Hager.
The experience so touched him that he wanted to share it with others, and the Goodfellows Club of Owensboro was born. Through the pages of the newspaper, Hager invited everyone to share the heartwarming feeling of caring for children.
The Goodfellows Club has grown over the years to provide emergency dental and medical care for children and still provides an annual Christmas party. Owensboro has changed a lot since 1916, but this tradition of caring continues.
Throughout the past 100 years, the Messenger-Inquirer has continued to tell the stories of those children and remained a dedicated partner in Goodfellows’ mission of making sure no child is forgotten.
All donations to the Goodfellows Club go directly to services for children. With an operating budget of approximately $172,200, the organization receives most donations during the holiday season through Roll Call, the daily fundraising campaign through the Messenger-Inquirer.
Funds are also raised through an annual Soup Day for Kids, Tennis Tournament, partnership with the Owensboro Choral Society’s performance of The Messiah and numerous other collaborations with organizations such as the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden, which hosts a major fund-raiser every year. Additionally, the Goodfellows Club seeks out philanthropic organizations, civic groups and business for grant funding opportunities.
The Goodfellows Club has worked quietly throughout the years, but supporters are looking forward to this public celebration. Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly will each proclaim Oct. 8 as Goodfellows Day. The Owensboro Community Band will perform at the reception, and light refreshments will be served.
“We are celebrating a momentous occasion,” McQueen said. “You don’t see too many organizations that have been around for 100 years.”
Everyone is invited to attend the reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, celebrating the past and looking forward to the next 100 years of ensuring that “no child should be forgotten.”