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    Moments of Inspiration…

    For the first time in what seems like forever, I spent more than a few hours in the office this week. Between participating in Section meetings, facilitating Board Institute training programs for member societies, and attending the Annual Meetings of the Canadian Fraternal Association and the National Association of Fraternal Insurance Counselors, my BlackBerry, cell phone, and airport lounges have served as my de facto office.

    I returned to find an inbox full of files, news clips, and reports – many, admittedly, that I asked my staff to print for me – destroying the notion that I’ll ever be able to go completely “paperless.” So what did I do on that first day back? Basically, I took one giant stack of stuff and turned it into five separate stacks of stuff – all with their own separate and distinct project list sitting at the top of the stack. When I got home that day, my wife asked me what I accomplished. “I made piles and I’m damn proud of them,” I said. Her deadpan response: “Sounds exciting.”

    There was one pile, however, that was exciting; even inspirational. That’s the one that contained the information on the community service projects in which our members were engaged on and around JOIN HANDS DAY. Here’s a quick look at a few of them. I hope you’ll add your stories to this list by posting a comment on this blog or emailing them to actioncenter@joinhandsday.org.

    Feeding God’s Children – Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) has embraced this initiative as the theme for its members’ community service activities.  The clear direction that COF provides its members and local networks and the direct link between the effort to feed the hungry and the society’s common bond accomplishes a number of important objectives: 1) it spurs an increasing number of its members to get involved in such projects; 2) it incents local member networks to partner with parishes in their community to expand their service efforts; 3) it generates greater participation from non-members who gain exposure to the society in the most positive way possible; 4) it offers independent agents the chance to demonstrate their commitment to the society’s community service effort and gain visibility among members and non-members; 5) it harnesses the energy of teenagers and 20- and 30-somethings who are looking for meaningful ways to enhance their communities through volunteerism.  This is one of the greatest success stories in the fraternal system. For more details on how COF manages and invests in this program, click here.

    One Day in May – And speaking of getting young folks involved in community service, take a look at what Western Fraternal Life Association (WFLA) has accomplished with its “One Day in May” project. WFLA and two of its local member networks in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area joined forces with students and faculty from Marion High School to restore five parks, one nature center, one historical house, Marion High School, six care centers – a total of 14 locations! At the parks, volunteers participated in environmental control activities, built raised gardens, planted trees and flowers and laid mulch. Youth at the care center made crafts with and entertained care center residents, and helped residents use computers/technology. The entire student body (approximately 600 students) and all teachers will participate along with WFLA members and staff. Each location has a student assigned as the project leader. The student created a materials list and budget for their location. Manpower was allocated to each site based on need and maximums. WFLA donated funds to help meet budget needs and supplied lunches for hundreds of volunteers at several of the locations. WFLA members also transported all the tools to the sites, as well as mulch, compost and topsoil to locations where needed. The end result: an improved community thanks to the organizational support from a fraternal, a cadre of future community service leaders received incredible training in volunteer and project management, incredible exposure and public affairs value for a society in its own backyard.

    Harnessing Technology – SPJST has been spearheading a drive to raise awareness and funding for the Fort Hood Memorial to pay tribute to those American servicemen and women who were killed or injured during the tragic shooting on November 5th, 2009. Last week, SPJST project organizers hosted an informal and informational come-and-go public reception and Web-athon, Thursday, May 5 through Saturday, May 7, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Shilo Inn Ballroom in Killeen. The three-day event provided local residents, businesses, civic and veterans groups the opportunity to come by and visit with project organizers and learn more about the Fort Hood November 5th, 2009 Memorial. The event was held in conjunction with JOIN HANDS DAY, May 7, the nationwide day of doing good for others. Results of the event are posted at http://www.joinhandsamerica.com/. Individuals, businesses and service organizations wanting to contribute or make fund raising inquiries are invited to visit the website. SPJST President Brian Vanicek reported that the society generated a lot of good local and regional media coverage and passed along one of his favorites: Technology plays key role in push for Fort Hood memorial – YNN – Your News Now

    On deck…

    Next week we’ll revisit your feedback on my “Agitate” postings – should be fun.  But until then, here are some summer reading suggestions for you…

    Section meeting season means plenty of time on airplanes and airports and as a result I’ve had plenty of time to devour some really excellent books, including:

    • The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout, PhD – I guarantee you’ll never look at your neighbors and co-workers in quite the same way…
    • The Alienist: A Novel, Caleb Carr – A psychological thriller and whodunit murder mystery set in the New York City in the late 1890s. Gruesome, but can’t stop turning the pages…
    • Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death, Jim Frederick – As good a commentary on the difficulties our troops face in the Middle East as you’ll ever find…
    • River of Darkness, Buddy Levy – A conquistador’s accidental trip down the previously undiscovered Amazon River. One of the great adventure stories of all time.

    And I just downloaded these titles for some not-so-light summer reading:

    • The Bin Ladens, Steve Coll
    • The Wrong War, Bing West
    • Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
    • Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
    • The Rogue Republic, William C. Davis

    I welcome your comments on any of the books listed above, as well as your suggestions for others I can download to my Kindle…

    One Response

    1. I am excited to read this. I am the Pres. of the Omaha Sons of Norway Lodge 1-604. We are always looking for ways to get involved other than the parades and potlucks!

      Carole Davick, Pres.

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