By Gregory Zarb and Joseph Caccavale
The old classroom is drowned out by the sound of ten laughing children until the counselor roars “meeting time,” and the children fall silent.
“They’re rambunctious,” Tom Yonkes, counselor to the Columbian Squire group in Coram, said. “They’re still kids, but when they hear my voice, they know it’s time to focus.”
With the help of two members of the Knights of Columbus, the Squires — ten kids ranging from ten to eighteen — meet every other Tuesday at Saint Frances Cabrini Parish Center to discuss upcoming community events and fundraisers and prepare to become Knights.
In doing these events, they build up a reputation with the Knights. Eventually, they will have a great opportunity to become part of the Long Island chapter of the highly-respected Catholic fraternity that donated a record setting $173 million to charity in 2015, reads a statement from the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson.
“The Squires age limit is 10-18 years old,” Paul Giglio, chief squire of the group, said. “The Knights have the age limit of 18 and above. And we work events with them as well. It helps the kids gain experience and hopefully excite them enough to join the Knights as well.”
The Knights of Columbus Coram group meets at the parish center to discuss possible charitable events. However, those meetings are closed to all non-members of the public. Except for the Squires.
The Squires are allowed to help out at meetings and events that the Knights host, so they can get a taste of what may be their future can be if they become a part of the Knights. On March 29, the Squires will work an event with the Knights.
“We will be hosting a bingo night for the community,” Danny Lavardera, a current Knight and parent volunteer to the Squires class, said. “We told the kids to come to bingo night and help give food out to the players, to clean up messes and to give out bingo cards. We set them up with a Knight so they can watch and learn.”
Nationwide, the Squires are approximately 25,000, still in middle school to high school. Giglio, 16, the oldest of the group at Cabrini, is moving on to become a Knight when he turns 18.
“I plan on becoming one [Knight],” Giglio said. “I’ve been part of this parish my entire life and I’ve been a part of the Squires for the last six years. They truly are a helpful group and it’s a great bunch of people you get to meet and work with.”
The Knight members can’t wait for the next generation to join the group as well.
“They may have small attention spans, but they’re great kids,” Yonkes said while chuckling. “They enjoy doing fundraisers, car washes and food drives. I hope that they all become Knights when the time is right, because I know they can do amazing things.”