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One-of-a-kind club grows, gives back

Zafety Club began as a sort of inside joke at Zorbaz on Little Pine Lake, just outside of Perham. But as the club grew, so did its goals. "This all started three years ago," said Dan Schroeder, the club's first president. "It started where, we de...

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Submitted photo Zorbaz Zafety Club members Marcus Zitzow (treasurer), Caleb Steiner, Nikki Bruns and Dana Brandby (secretary) at the club’s fall fish fry, where they raised $200 for the Perham Area Food Shelf.

Zafety Club began as a sort of inside joke at Zorbaz on Little Pine Lake, just outside of Perham. But as the club grew, so did its goals.

“This all started three years ago,” said Dan Schroeder, the club’s first president. “It started where, we decided to have a meeting at 3 o’clock, called the ‘safety meeting.’”

Really, the club’s members just wanted to have a solid excuse to meet up at Zorbaz.

“Zorbaz, company-wide, we’ve never had a happy hour,” explained Marcus Zitzow, who is a bartender and manager at the Little Pine location. “We want to be different than everybody else.”

“It was more bull than anything,” admitted Schroeder with a chuckle.

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But surprisingly, the club quickly grew past its original goal of having fun.

Today, there are 140 card-carrying members who pay $3 in dues at each meeting, along with a full set of officers. The club has long supported its own, and is now reaching out to others in the community.

Zitzow said that, when they started out, the dues paid for a club steak feed in the spring and a fish fry in the fall. After a while, they also began to send members cards and some cash, or flowers, should that person fall on hard times or have a death in the family.

As more people joined, Schroeder said, the members decided to go even further.

Now, one-third of the collected dues are set aside for the East Otter Tail County Relay for Life. For Thanksgiving, the club also made a $200 donation to the Perham Area Food Shelf, with another contribution planned for this spring. 

“I never realized how far that goes,” Zitzow said of the cash donation to the food shelf. “It’s incredible how much they can buy.”

Then, at Christmas, the club gave someone in the community – who they knew was truly down on their luck and in genuine need – a special Christmas present and a gift card to the restaurant.

“It was very cool,” Zitzow said, admitting that he even started crying when he gave the person the club’s gift.

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“Our club is made up of everyone,” said Schroeder. Their members work everywhere around Perham, and new, “safety-minded” members are always welcome.

“We’re not just a drinking club,” Zitzow added. “It’s evolved into a good-will thing, and I never would have thought we’d grow this big.”

Anyone interested in joining the Zafety Club needs to be sponsored by a current member. Meetings are held from 1 p.m. to about 5 p.m. on Fridays.

 

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