Hungry for a laugh?

Rhinebeck Grange hosting comedy night for food pantry

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Fans of comedy can make their way to St. John’s Reformed Church in Upper Red Hook on Sat., Oct. 18, for a special laugh-fest organized jointly by the church and members of Rhinebeck Grange #896.

“Laugh Out Loud for Hunger” will feature three comedians in a fundraiser for St. John’s food pantry, one of seven in the Red Hook/Rhinebeck area.

The three comedians are Joe Currie, Hector Luiz, and Davin, independent comedians brought to the area by Steamroller Entertainment.

Luiz, who hails from New York City, told the Observer he is looking forward to the performance.“I like the idea of the food pantry: everybody gets hungry, and everybody is just one catastrophe away from losing everything. It’s a way of helping and providing good karma. What I have noticed is that when catastrophes happen, it usually brings the humanity out in people,” he said.

Davin, from Orange County, added, “The key is to de-stigmatize the issue of hunger. Sometimes people don’t seek out help because they think they’re going to be judged. If we can make people laugh and raise some money, it’s really a win-win situation.”

Joe and Cynthia Baer, who have been members of the Rhinebeck Grange for over a year, said they decided to dedicate themselves to a specific purpose in the community, and this year their mission is to assist local area food pantries.

“This comedy show was something I had been looking at for a while,” Joe told the Observer. “I was familiar with Steamroller Entertainment and how people raved about the comedians and how much money was raised. These days, people need to laugh, and this way we get the Grange name out there and start to cull a crowd to come to our future events.”

They are hoping the event, while raising money for the hungry, will also jumpstart their search for new members for the Rhinebeck Grange, which began back in 1901.

The national fraternal organization actually “…dates back to 1867,” Joe said. “Farmers got together to fight the monopolistic tendencies of the railroads, who were charging them too much to transport their goods. It was ritualistic, they had secret handshakes and such. They were also one of the first organizations that treated women as equals from the very get-go. It’s very much community-oriented: if your house burned down, the Grange members would help you out.”

Rhinebeck Grange now also serves Tivoli, Red Hook, West Milan, and Rock City. Cynthia, who is the Grange “Master,” and leads the local outpost, says the search for new members is critical. “They are not secret organizations anymore,” she stressed, “but there are just not a lot of people coming out to join…All of the Granges across the country are having the same problem and trying to address it.”

Cynthia’s goals are modest for the 14-member group. “I want to get the membership going again so we can have a Grange that is vital, with educational programs, social programs; hopefully, in the long run, we’ll get our own building. I’m trying to organize monthly potluck dinners in different towns at firehouses and churches to attract different people and form friendships.”

Grange members meet monthly and have dues of $26 per year. The annual installation ceremony for new members explains the rituals of the past and encourages new members to become familiar with Grange history, Cynthia said.

“It’s not just about preserving the Grange’s history,” she added. “The organization still has the power to lobby for local needs and supports family values that still resonate today.”

The food pantry at St. John’s is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am to 2:30pm, and Thursdays from 9am to12:30pm.

For further information about Rhinebeck Grange #896, contact Joe Baer at 845-876-6488 or www.rhinebeckgrange.org.

“Laugh Out Loud For Hunger”
Saturday, Oct. 18, 8pm
Tickets: $30 in advance, $35at the door (includes service of snacks and light beverages)
St. John’s Reformed Church, 126 Old Post Road North
Upper Red Hook 845-758-1184 office@stjohnsreformed.org

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