“We are not a self-help group; we are a social group. We are not throwing a pity party, we want to have fun,” Laurie Johnson, president of the Key Club, said in a recent interview.
The Key Club in Warwick was one of the first of its kind in the state and on June 5 they celebrated their 50th anniversary at the Greenwood Community Church. The Key Club has 16 members with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that affects the central nervous system and “the people that love them.”
Together, the free group meets to watch movies, listen to invited speakers or play games. This year the Key Club invited numerous speakers, including Linda Bradley from the Ocean State Center for Independent Living, as well as The Rhode Island Masons, who came to speak and offered free medical equipment to members.
At their 50th dinner, Mayor Scott Avedisian gave the club a plaque for their good service. He said that it was important to have a group that could provide support and be there for milestones for individuals with MS.
The Greenwood Inn supplied the group’s celebratory turkey dinner at the church.
The club is named because it wants to find the “key” to a cure, but Johnson feels the group’s purpose has changed a little within the last 50 years.
She said, “Personally, I feel like the Key Club has become a place to feel comfortable. Only someone else with MS is going to understand the pure exhaustion you can get. They may be the only ones who are able to pick you up at a time like that. It is nice to meet with like people who are going to completely understand.”
At the 50th Anniversary Celebration dinner, the members discussed the past to “reminisce about the good ol’ days.” Throughout the year they also held “repeat meetings” where they did something that had been done previously in the club throughout its history. One of their favorite events is a blind auction. Everyone has $3,000 of Monopoly money that can be used to bid on different items that are undisclosed, covered in a paper bag.
Meetings are held the first Thursday of the month between September to November and February to June.
For more information on the Key Club and membership, contact Laurie Johnson at 737-2767.