Having roots in the first Exchange Club, founded in 1911 in Detroit, today's Exchange Club of Newport Harbor is the oldest surviving service club in Newport Beach.

This dedicated and honorable group of members holds onto the timeless morals, values and traditions started in 1926, when a group of Newport Beach businessmen met at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club to discuss and solve problems in the fledgling community. These pioneers helped bring together our earliest neighborhoods in West Newport, Balboa and Corona del Mar.

Some key contributions of the early club are the establishment of the Newport Harbor High School district, which gave us our own local high school, the expansion of the Boy Scouts to include younger kids in a new organization called the Cub Scouts and the creation of the Sea Scouts in its current location on the Coast Highway.

Notables like Joe Beek, Theodore Robins, Gordon Grundy, A. J. Twist, Jack King and Jerry Wooters exemplified the dedication and hardworking ethics of the membership. These qualities built our local Exchange Club into one of the finest in the nation.

The modern club, one of the most prolific in fundraising throughout the country, founded the Orange County Center for Prevention of Child Abuse, and its fundraising efforts have yielded more than $1 million through its annual movie screening.

Most recently, the Exchange Club of Newport Harbor established the yearly Field of Honor in Castaways Park, where 1,776 American flags are displayed in an area overlooking Newport Beach's beautiful harbor. This event allows individual families to honor specific servicemen, current or deceased, and donate to military charities. City leaders have called it the most patriotic event in our city.

Youth-oriented events include a mini "American Idol" with the Exchange Club Search for Talent. In addition, the membership has donated thousands of dollars to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and provided hundreds of scholarships to local students at all levels.

The group is committed to the old-fashioned values of family, community and country and, like most service clubs, is looking for motivated new members to carry on the long-standing traditions of the Exchange Club of Newport Harbor. For further information, contact Bill Bechtel at (714) 292-9301.


Helping those less fortunate

The Pantry: Elderly, low-income and motel families in Costa Mesa are given food that they need from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every fourth Saturday of the month at Someone Cares Soup Kitchen, 720 W. 19th St. in Costa Mesa. The event is sponsored through Mariners Church. For information on donations or volunteering, contact Stephanie at (714) 349-3894.

LOTS: Life on the Streets, or LOTS, is a ministry that helps the homeless in our community. The focus is helping people retain their dignity by providing showers, laundry, mending and support. LOTS takes place from 8 to 11 a.m. each Saturday at the Crossing Church parking structure on Victoria Street in Costa Mesa. For information about sponsoring or volunteering, contact Andrew Del Rey at (949) 233-3598 or Tim Cessna at (949) 891-4594 through the Crossing Church, 215 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa.

Jewish Vegetarian Interactive Dinner: The dinner, with chef Jenny Ross to benefit the hard of hearing and deaf, will be held Sunday at 118 Degrees, 2981 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. For information and to RSVP, go to FreeJewishDinner@gmail.com.

The Daily Pilot would like to acknowledge the decades of hard work and community involvement by former "Community & Clubs" columnist Jim de Boom, who has kept our readers aware of the important role that our service clubs and nonprofits play in our lives. From clubs established over a century ago to newer nonprofits that deal with specific causes, their selfless and hardworking citizens are the backbone of our community's charitable giving.

The Daily Pilot wants to hear about your club's or organization's events so we can inform our readers. Contact Duncan Forgey at Forgey5000@yahoo.com or (949) 548-4800, or Diane Daruty at dianedaruty@sbcglobal.net or (949) 322-7949.