A Powell service club will grow when it merges this summer with a chapter more than 70 years its senior.

The Powell Sertoma Club announced in May it would merge with the Downtown Sertoma Club of Columbus, effective July 1. Chapters of Sertoma, which is short for "service to mankind," support many charitable causes, with a special focus on people with hearing and speech disorders.

Laural Flanagan, president of the Powell chapter, said a declining membership base led the downtown club to seek out a partner.

"It was just not drawing new, younger members, and they were looking for a club to merge with," she said.

The Powell chapter, which was founded in 1997, has about 20 members. Flanagan said she expects seven members from the downtown club, which was established in 1923, to join the Powell chapter when the two groups merge July 1.

The Powell club will assume responsibility for the downtown chapter's funds after the merger. The expanded group will meet and conduct business weekly in Powell.

Flanagan said many of the Columbus chapter's members live well north of downtown, so they should be comfortable with the change in venue.

Downtown club member Keith Helfer said in a statement the upcoming merger makes sense for both groups.

"The Downtown Columbus Club helped to form a new Powell Club in 1997," he said, "so we feel it is a perfect fit for our two clubs to come together and work as one to provide for our various charities and community involvement."

Flanagan said she also thinks the merger will be good for both chapters.

"It's a win-win," she said. "We (will) have more volunteers to draw from. We (will) have the knowledge and the experience of the downtown members."

Flanagan said the merger also reflects the challenges many service organizations are facing to attract new members.

"I think all volunteer organizations have struggled in the past couple of years," she said.

Although the merger has not been finalized, the downtown club already is making a difference in the Powell community. The chapter May 18 donated $7,050 to the Olentangy Local School District for the purchase of audiology equipment.

The Powell Sertoma Club meets at 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month and at noon on following Wednesdays at the Liberty Tavern, 50 N. Liberty St. For more information, visit powellsertoma.com.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick