As Packwood Improvement Club Changes Leadership, Commitment Remains

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There may have been a changing of the guard at the Packwood Improvement Club (PIC) over the transition into 2022, but the goals of the community-oriented board of volunteers remains the same.

Lewis County Commissioner Lee Grose was the president of PIC for the last seven years. Taking his place at the club’s first meeting this year, which was held last Monday in the Packwood Community Hall, was new president Ron Blankenship.

Though, after helping the meeting along, Grose teased that it didn’t feel like he’d completely wrapped up his duties.

The club was built by and for volunteers in the East Lewis County town many decades ago. The community hall, which is run and rented out by the club for events, was made from donated Packwood lumber in the mid-1950s.

The club runs the Packwood Flea Markets, Christmas lights competitions, chicken barbecues and other annual fundraisers.

PIC’s main responsibility, as Blankenship sees it, is to run the hall. There, weddings, memorials, county meetings and many other events are held throughout the year. A longtime goal of the club has been to build a deck on the hall, which would increase the amount of events it could host even more so now as the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated more outdoor gatherings.

The last estimate given to the club for that project was about $30,000, according to trustee Sheryl Hall.

The club’s biggest fundraising event annually is its crab feed, where Grose brings in fresh dungeness crab for folks who pre-purchased tickets and auctions for items and desserts are held. The crab feed this year is being held on Saturday, Jan. 15.

PIC also hosts a semi-regular Friday night bingo game, dependening on the weather or holidays. When held, it frequently sees between 30 and 40 bingo players, many of whom are members of young families living in the area. 

Throughout his tenure as president, Grose said the biggest accomplishment was not growth or event holding, but keeping the club solvent in order to preserve its role for the town and residents.

Asked what wisdom he would share with future generations looking to help the Packwood community, Grose said: “Volunteer. That's the big thing. At the last meeting, I mentioned that we've kind of lost that in our society, in general. I think we've lost the attitude of volunteering. And like we said tonight, I mean, this group of people, the 18 to 20 members in here do just a lot of stuff, and most of us are getting older and getting tireder. We need some of the younger people to step up and keep it going. And by younger I mean the 40-year-olds.”

Blankenship said Grose has taught him a lot in his time as club president and through his role in the county.

Blankenship’s goal for the upcoming year, similar to Grose’s accomplishment, is to keep the club running and dedicated to the community. He was one of the volunteers to work on the remodel of the building, which he sees as his most valuable contribution to the club so far.

PIC meetings are held at the community hall on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. The next bingo game will be on Jan. 21. For more information on bingo, contact treasurer Jeanette Blankenship via email at bunny_rabbit53@hotmail.com.

For other updates on the community hall or about the PIC, visit its Facebook page, @PackwoodPIC.