The mission of The Real Men’s Club is simple: To give back to the community.
“We do it for the kids. That’s out motto,” said founder and president Frank Duwel of the group’s fundraising efforts.
The group celebrated its two-year anniversary at Herald Park on Thursday with exactly 187 attendees. An estimated $2,000 to $3,000 in net proceeds from the luncheon and bar will go toward the Herald 4-H and the Larry Craig Memorial Fund. Craig was Herald’s unofficial mayor and local philanthropist who died last year.
Craig was also among the core group of founding members who distributed fliers in the greater Lodi-Galt area looking for potential participants for The Real Men’s Club.
“There were a lot of guys that wanted to get together to give back to the community. Guys love to get together, they just needed someone to do it,” said Duwel of Galt, who is retired but still works with the Moose Lodge, Galt Lions Club, Galt Historical Society and Galt Business Builders.
“We wanted to get men together. We didn’t know what would happen,” he said, referring to the first meeting, when 50 men showed up.
The Real Men’s Club was founded in 2011 with the purpose of hosting monthly lunches and special events to raise money for worthy local needs.
All profits derived from these lunches and events are given directly to the monthly recipients, as determined by the group’s board of directors, according to board member Mukesh Patel, a store owner.
The money comes from meal tickets and raffle entries.
To date, the Real Men’s Club has donated close to $68,000. The largest donation made was to the Boy Scouts of America, which was given $5,450 last February.
Other recipients include the Herald Porch Boys, McFarland Living History Ranch and Mason Fluty, a local boy with a medical condition called Apert syndrome, who needed extensive surgery to separate his fingers and toes.
“I doubt if the general public realizes just how much The Real Men’s Club has done for so many important local charities in the Galt area,” former Galt Chamber of Commerce president and Lodi resident Frank Gayaldo said. “The food is always fantastic, the guys are a lot of fun and their highly strategic method of helping improve the community is very much for real. And when Pedro Ramos of Ramos Jewelers cooks, well, it is even worth canceling a flight to China to attend.”
Duwel said it is all made possible by a core group of 18 to 20 committed volunteers who handle everything from cooking to finding donations for the raffle. The group has no overhead, as it doesn’t occupy rental space or have employees.
Each month, the group sends out more than 850 emails to past participants to remind them of the next luncheon. Of course not all of them attend, but participation continues to grow, according to Duwel. About half of the members are from the Lodi area. The group welcomes all, and membership is not required.
Twice a year, they hold a dinner and invite the group’s wives and girlfriends to see what the club is all about.
In the future, the Real Men’s Club plans to sponsor a free community services project and host a luncheon for a fellow civic organization that can keep the proceeds.
In the meantime, Duwel said participants continue to come back for the “awesome” lunches.
“They kick back and enjoy themselves. It feels like a family reunion because for some of them this is the only time they see each other.”