The Knights of Columbus is a worldwide fraternal organization rooted in the Catholic faith. Founded in 1882 by Father Michael. J. McGivney, it has grown to encompass millions of members. Locally, the Wasco council is spearheaded by Grand Knight Joe Blanchard, who carries the vision of charity, unity,and brotherhood while championing charitable initiatives.
Blanchard is a physics/chemistry teacher at Wasco High School and has been with the Knights organization for 10 years. He said he enjoys not only the service aspect but also the camaraderie.
"We meet once a month, and sometimes more. It's nice to be able to talk to other men with similar thoughts about life and discuss things, whether helping out around the church or just discussing life in general."
The mission of the Knights is to support the local parish, St. John the Evangelist. "We do that by contributing to various parish activities like at special events, during mass or anytime somebody needs something, they'll ask, and we'll contribute."
"A lot of us every Sunday are ushers, eucharist ministers, lectors and part of the choir. We'll volunteer at different celebrations and masses. We also sponsor regular blood drives with the Houchin Community Blood Bank. We'll cook hot dogs for those who donate to thank them for their donation. It's our way of staying connected with the community."
The club also fraises funds throughout the year. Their biggest fundraiser is their annual fireworks sale, where the money raised goes to support the Wasco Christmas parade, sponsorship of a Miss Wasco Rose Queen contestant, the annual fireworks show, upgrades to the church and youth scholarships, to name a few.
"We've given so much money to the Wasco Community Scholarship Association that we have a scholarship named after our organization. As a teacher, that makes me happy knowing that there are students moving on into college that we are supporting."
Integrating Catholic values into its service projects and activities is central to the Knight's mission.
"We have a slogan "charity, unity and fraternity" – the charity part is giving time and money to support the parish and community. The unity is more of supporting Catholic life, like being part of the choir, etc., and fraternity is men coming together to support each other."
The club incorporates faith-based principles. "We do an activity in support of pro-life by displaying several hundred crosses on the church lawn to represent the death of unborn babies by abortion and how that is just totally against all Catholic teachings. We will regularly pray anytime we get together to support one another and anybody in the community who could use a blessing or God's help. I think we all could."
Blanchard envisions a bright future for the organization. "We'll always be around as a source of support to the parish and the community. All communities need volunteers to help drive efforts, and the Knights will always be around for that help."