DOUGLASTON — The Star Council Award is the highest honor given to a parish council of the Knights of Columbus, and qualifying for it is no easy task. Knights of Columbus Council #5911 from St. Anastasia Parish in Douglaston knows that — it received the award in 2006.
Now, 16 years later, through its members’ faithful, charitable activities, insurance promotion, and membership growth, Council #5911 has earned the accolade again. They will receive the 2021-2022 Star Council Award at a special presentation in the fall, according to Fred Bedell, the council’s Grand Knight.
Bedell noted, however, that although this is the highest award a KofC council can achieve, the members of #5911 do not participate to get notoriety.
“This is what we do,” he said. “And it’s a good feeling because we know we’re helping somebody at one point or another, whether it’s the Church, the community, or individuals who are hurting.”
Blessed Father Michael McGivney, a candidate for sainthood, founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut.
It began as a service organization to help widows and orphans of his parish. It has grown into a global fraternal service order with a wholly owned insurance company. Members and their families receive investing and other financial services through the KofC.
But Knights of each council also excel at fundraising by opening their wallets and appealing for donations to help pay for their “C-and-B” (Charitable and Benevolent) activities.
Since the pandemic’s start, Council #5911 has raised about $5,000 for area food banks, soup kitchens, and pantries. In addition, the council continued to support its numerous longtime beneficiaries, including The Bridge to Life, a College Point-based organization that provides resources to help pregnant women choose life.
The Knights of Council #5911 also supports local scouting programs and organizes blood drives. These projects helped the council earn the Columbian Award, which honors high-achieving C-and-B activities. It is one of three awards they achieved to qualify for Star Council.
The other two are the Father McGivney Award for surpassing membership recruitment goals by 120% and the Founder’s Award for promoting KofC insurance programs to members.
The council’s financial secretary compiles proof of these achievements in the year-end “Annual Survey of Fraternal Activity” and a “Service Program Personnel Report.” KofC officials at the state and national levels use the information to learn which councils earned the three awards and, ultimately, the Star Council award.
“We’ve gotten the Columbian Award year after year,” Bedell said. “But this year was unbelievable.”
He credited August Randazzo, the financial secretary, for shepherding all the paperwork.
Randazzo said the council has about 120 members; most are retired and not as active as they were a few decades ago. Still, he added, these members are prompt to make financial donations.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for everybody in the council, especially when you consider all that went on with COVID,” Randazzo said of the Star Council honor. “We weren’t able to have as many meetings as we used to. But we were able to pull together.
“Whether it was a membership drive, collecting for the C-and-B, or running a food drive, everybody helped. This was not a one-person thing.”