Altrusa eyes growth to combat difficult year

Like many similar organisations, Cambridge Altrusa Club is struggling to build membership against the Covid-19 fallout.

President Maureen Blackstock said while Zoom meetings and online contact kept members connected during the most affected months, events which served as an example of what they do, and helped raise vital funds, were cancelled.  That means there is less in the kitty to pass on to the groups they normally support.

“We are all struggling for membership, it’s a real sign of the times,” she said. “There are a number of factors. Covid, of course, is one of them, but the reality is that fewer people are doing volunteering.”

Cambridge Altrusa Club is one of hundreds internationally linked to Altrusa International in the United States, a classified service organisation for women founded in 1917.  One of its main focuses is on education and literacy. The Cambridge club raises between $5000 and $7000 each year for the community. Funds go into organisations like Cambridge Community House, Kids in Need Waikato, Assistance Dogs, the Salvation Army, Search and Rescue, Women’s Refuge and the Blind Foundation. Ongoing assistance is given through the a driving service at Selwyn St Andrew’s Retirement Village to help residents with their weekly shopping and other social outings.

The club gives a $2000 scholarship annually, which goes towards a young person’s continuing education. Maureen said there were 16 applications for that this year, a higher number than usual. Altrusa also presents an annual Literacy Award to a student at Cambridge High School, a Transition Award to assist students in their future study, and presents 24 primary school students with Town and Country Literacy Awards.

Maureen said Covid-19 led to the cancellation of this year’s Town and Country Awards evening. “It meant we had to organise with eight of the schools to present the awards to the students at their school assemblies. The students were proud to receive their award in front of their school and their families who attended the assembly.”

Not everything Cambridge Altrusa does  is hard work – members meet socially each month. It’s an easy-going environment in which members face no pressure to do any more than suits them.

Maureen is optimistic about bringing new people on board. Things have been buoyant before – such as when they won the national award for membership gain earlier this year.

“We have one more meeting for the year, and that is on the evening of Thursday November 26. If anyone is interested in coming along to see what we are about, contact me before November 25 via email at, or phone 021 678 346.

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