Tucked away on the lower level of our local YMCA, located just off Mars Hill Road, is a small group of early risers that meets on weekdays to connect about daily life and discuss real ways they can change our community for the better. They are called the Knights of the Roundtable. This group is made up of members who believe that gathering as a community is vital to our well-being, and nothing can beat a great conversation among friends.
The group was started by four charter members of the Northwest Family YMCA. Joe Alongi, Craig Han, Jerry Reid and Jimmy Green started sitting at a small card table and spending time talking about life after their workouts. Their laughter drew more people to the group and soon the Y provided a larger round table to better accommodate the members.
Today, the table is full and some members have spread to nearby sofas and chairs. The Knights of the Roundtable fosters caring relationships and a sense of responsibility to each other and our community.
Having strong relationships makes a huge difference in a person’s life. Strong social ties create a feeling of connection, support and importance to others. The members support each other through life’s challenges.
Doug Sucher, a long-time member, said, “When I retired, I realized that most of my friendships had been through work, and suddenly I no longer had those interactions. The community group at the YMCA has opened up a whole new social network.”
Being a member of the Knights of the Roundtable might look like just sitting around a table, but it’s so much more. It’s the joy of monthly birthday celebrations with cake, and making everyone feel included. It’s dinners out to enjoy each other’s company. It is the support of meals and a warm hug when facing the loss of a loved one. It’s knowing that you’re not facing challenges alone because you have this small community and they have your back. Best of all, the Knights of the Roundtable provides laughter that can be heard ringing through the Y every morning. There is good-hearted ribbing, bad jokes and so many great stories.
When you approach the Knights on any given morning, you might be welcomed by YMCA members like Alongi, Bev Farnsworth, Bill Howerton or George Clemente. Farnsworth has a PhD in psychology and a special therapist chair complete with a beautiful pink flower rising up behind her. There is a plaque on the chair, designating it as her chair. Bev is always willing to listen and share her wisdom. Alongi and his beautiful wife Dee have been married for 63 years. Howerton, a former Marine, says building relationships like the ones around the table is invaluable for returning military members learning to cope with what they have experienced. Clemente says the social support he receives by coming and interacting with his friends every day is priceless.
The Knights are actively involved in the community and look for unique ways to give back. Sucher has been instrumental with the program Cellphones for Soldiers where members donate old phones to soldiers. Betty and George Buller help with Meals on Wheels while Howerton works with military members battling PTSD. Howerton encouraged the Knights of the Roundtable to participate in Remembering Everyone Deployed (RED) by wearing red clothing on Fridays, and now every Friday there is a sea of red around the table. The Knights donate to the YMCA as a group, helping to fund the Y’s summer food program, and volunteering their time to make sandwiches for hungry children.
Come and experience The Knights of The Roundtable for yourself! The Knights meet at the big round table between 6-8 a.m. All Y members are welcome. It is an eclectic group from all walks of life and all ages. All it takes to be a member at the table is to walk over and say hello. It could be the best thing that you do for yourself.
– Jennifer Bonn, a French teacher at Mount Paran Christian School.