BLACKSTONE – In the aftermath of the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, a group of 10 French Canadian residents from the Millerville section of Blackstone looked around at the devastation, rolled up their sleeves and went to work cleaning up the neighborhood.
“They worked as friends and neighbors and when they were done, they came up with the idea of forming an organization that was both a social club and a club designed to help each other and the community,” says Blackstone resident Paul Mercier. “So, in a sense, if the Hurricane of 1938 never happened, there would be no Millerville Men’s Club.”
The organization, a non-profit neighborhood social club located at 8 Lloyd St., is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with a host of Diamond Jubilee activities planned throughout the year, including an anniversary members banquet on May 11.
The club’s anniversary slogan is: “More than a Social Club; We are 75 years of Community Involvement.”
Mercier, a longtime club member who reviewed the club’s anniversary plans with the Board of Selectmen last week, said the club wants to commemorate its 75 years of existence by commissioning a monument to be placed in the Millerville section of town, which is located in East Blackstone near Harris Pond and comprises the Rathbun Street area near the Bellingham town line.
“The problem is we don’t have any room on the club’s property and because the Millerville section of town is so small and densely populated, we don’t have many options,” Mercier told the board. “Right now, we’re thinking that we would like to put the monument on the property of the Blackstone fire station #2 on Rathbun Street. There’s a good spot there and there would be no cost to the town because the club would pay for it.”
According to Mercier, the goal of the club in the early days was for residents living in Millerville to become more involved in their neighborhood. Over the years, the club has become a non-profit organization that promotes local sports and youth activities, religious groups, school programs and community service encompassing the entire Blackstone Valley.
The club, which today has 150 members led by 2013 President Steve Murray, is a longtime supporter of local youth baseball, soccer and the popular Tags n’ Trout program.
In addition, the club lets organizations and groups use its clubhouse on Lloyd Street for their functions — free of charge.
“What many people may not realize is that the Millerville Men’s Club is the largest contributor to our local schools, primarily through the proceeds we raise from our annual golf tournament,” Mercier says.
The club has also had hundreds of members over the years who have volunteered to serve on Blackstone’s municipal boards and committees, including one member who spent more than 40 years serving on the Planning Board.
“The Millerville Men’s Club has been actively involved in the community for 75 years and we’re hoping to stay just as involved for the next 75,” Mercier says.
For more information or to stay updated on the club’s Diamond Jubilee activities visit the club’s Facebook page or its Web page at www.millervile75th.org .