by Libby James
photo by Libby James
There’s a new club in town.
As of January, 2019, the 55 members of a Fort Collins based Sertoma Club reinvented themselves as the Downtown Club of Fort Collins. The members range in age from early 20s to early 90s. And yes. They are all men. “I don’t know of a woman in her right mind who’d want to join,” said Meg Brown, local attorney and daughter of Bill Brown, one of Sertoma’s founding members. The club came to life half a century ago this March and Brown remains an active member of the new organization.
He was a young attorney, new in town, in 1969 when he helped to establish what was, until a few months ago, a Sertoma Club. Founding members Ed Stoner and Everett Wood are still loyal members. Former member Bob Zimdahl was the first president and Brown was the second person to hold that office.
Over time Sertoma membership included four mayors, several attorneys and other community movers and shakers. Unlike some other service organizations, Sertoma does not place limits on the number of members in an occupation who are eligible to join.
Members had been considering becoming an independent organization for several years before they made the move. While national Sertoma focused on supporting speech and hearing organizations, the Fort Collins group found themselves involved with supporting youth, especially disadvantaged youth. They decided that independence would free up national dues and allow them to contribute more to their current local interests. “We wanted to paddle our own canoe,” Brown said.
The club supports Child Safe, Coats and Boots, Project Smile, Front Range Exceptional Equestrians, Namaqua, the Center for Family Outreach and Partners Mentoring Youth. For the last four years they have sponsored “Chipping Fore Charities,” a fundraising golf tournament established by ROMEO, Retired Old Mens’ Equal Opportunity Golf. That organization, 75 guys who love golf, contributed $450,000 to charities over the years. This year’s Chipping Fore Charities tournament will be held at Ptarmigan Golf Course south of Fort Collins, on August 26. Anyone interested can find information on chippingforecharities website.
As of 2013, the former Sertoma Club has proudly donated $429,000 to local charities, and they fully intend to continue their good work as the Downtown Club of Fort Collins.
From their beginning, the group has been committed to service and fellowship. They worked together to help get Crossroads Safehouse off the ground, providing badly needed physical labor. At one time they fielded a fast-pitch softball team that travelled out of state. A game played inside the walls of the men’s penitentiary in Rawlins is a special memory for Brown. They also sold beer at CSU football games in days gone by.
The club meets for lunch at noon every Friday at the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins. Members have come and gone over the years, but Brown has a special place in his heart for this group. “My closest friends are members,” he says.