20-30 clubs " working for the community

While a lot of social organizations tend to appeal to older people, the age group for Carson Valley's two 20-30 clubs is right in the name. Designed for adults in their 20s and 30s, the two Valley clubs have a big impact on Carson Valley life.

The men's club began as more of a ranchers' club back in the 1930s, according to Carson Valley Active 20-30 Club No. 85 immediate past president Jeremy Davidson, but now has become a group of both blue- and white-collar workers.

"We have gone from a club of 99 percent farmers and ranchers to more business-type people, more professional-type people," said Ryan Albert, a board member who has been with the group for seven years.

Today's members include representatives from several different professions, including welders, business owners, an FBI agent, draftsmen and designers.

"This club has pretty deep roots of past actives," Davidson said, naming past members like former state Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, former Douglas County commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen and many big Valley ranchers.

"Some of them are still willing to help out," said Davidson.

"The hardest thing is that most people in their 20s and early 30s are going to school, starting careers, starting families," said Davidson. "It's hard to find the time."

"I have to say that the busier the guys are, the more involved they become," said Ben Pridham, a 14-year member, who is the senior member of the group at 42.

The 20-30 clubs are generally groups of 20- to 39-year-olds, but both the local men's and women's group have a member that's passed the four-decade mark.

The men's club also has an unofficial 19-year-old junior member, Ryan Stoffer.

"He is a great help to this club and this community," said Davidson.

Although the men's club helps out at many functions throughout the year, its biggest event comes in June, when they put on Carson Valley Days, a tradition of more than 50 years.

Another tradition since 1989 is an Easter egg hunt at Lampe Park in Gardnerville. Other events the club participates in are an annual truck pull, a haunted house, a children's shopping spree and Project Santa Claus.

Giving to the community and continuing traditions were the big reasons for joining the 20-30 club, according to the members who were gathered on a cold Wednesday night in early January in the old Gardnerville jail across from Heritage Park, their meeting place for three decades.

However, the obvious reason for joining, as shown by the laughter in the room that night, was the camaraderie.

"One thing that sums up the club," said Albert, "is some of the best friends in my life I've met here."

Sierra Nevada Active 20-30 Club forms

The Carson Valley Active 20-30 Club No. 85 has been established as a men's club since its inception, but the 16 current members recognize the fact that members' wives and girlfriends have been helping all along.

"Many times my wife helps more than I do," said vice president Tom Kerley, 30, with the men's club a year.

Until 1999, the only 20-30 club in the Valley was the men's club, which has been in existence since 1932. Seven years ago, the women's Sierra Nevada Active 20-30 Club No. 730 was chartered.

The men's and women's clubs are separate, but work on similar projects and help each other on a few.

"Even though we're all working for the same goal, we are very separate," said the Sierra Nevada Active 20-30 Club director of public relations Shannon Johnson.

The 11 women currently in the club, and past members, have made a yearly Fashion Show Extravaganza their major event. Other events they participate in are Halloween Safety Street, a community Halloween event offering safe trick-or-treating; Winter Wonderland, a day of baby-sitting and activities for children while the parents go Christmas shopping; a live Christmas tree sale; and late summer and winter children's shopping sprees, for school clothes and Project Santa Claus, respectively. Members also help the Carson Valley Active 20-30 Club during Carson Valley Days. The club's latest project is to award a scholarship to a Douglas High School senior for the first time.

One difference between the men's and women's groups is that the women also assist the needy in other countries.

"We travel a lot nationally and internationally," said past president and current membership director Jacquie Manoukian, who is also on the national board and is an international relations officer.

The group went to Costa Rica in August 2005, taking bags of clothing to an orphanage for "Operation Happy Kid," and to Mexico in May 2005 with three truckloads of donations for foster homes in Ensenada. Each time they travel they pay for their own trips, at a discount.

The 20-30 club immediate past president Jennifer Norman, who takes over July 1 as the national 20-30 Club president, attended a membership drive meeting at The Bank Parlor & Pub in Minden in late January.

"Right now we're building a school in Kenya," she said. "It's a 12-room primary school. We're teaming up with Germany and Kenya (clubs)."

The school will have a computer lab, a library and a special-needs center.

"Children over there don't have a facility for special needs," said Norman.

Norman is a ninth-grade teacher at Carson Valley Middle School. Other members are marketing managers, an accountant, a real estate professional and a dog grooming business owner. The women's group is always trying to recruit new members.

"We can give to people and do all this stuff," said Manoukian, "but unless we maintain our membership, we can't do it."

Sierra Nevada Active 20-30 Club


Membership director Jacquie Manoukian, 691-3982

Carson Valley Active 20-30 Club


President Ray Swanson, 790-0114


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