The honor of serving others…

June 30, 2018

I recently was honored by our local Huron Valley Rotary Club by being named a Paul Harris Fellow. I am honored and humbled by the selection for that honor. The Paul paul harris pinHarris Fellow Award is the Rotary honor for service to the community is pursuit of the goal of making the world a better place for all. The Rotary has that goal and has done great things both locally and internationally.

As I was thinking about what to say in accepting the award, I drew inspiration from my most dependable source, the Jack’s Winning Words blog. I save the little quotes that Jack uses to open each blog post, because they usually come in handy as inspiration for something that I want to write about later. In this case, they seemed perfect as comments on this honor.

The first was this quote by Clarissa Pikola Estes –

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”

Small, local groups, such as local Rotary Clubs, Optimists Clubs, local Chambers of Commerce, Good Fellows groups and many others, are the backbone of local efforts to sewrving soupmake the part of the world that they can reach a better place to live for all. Often their efforts go unnoticed, because they work in the background on projects that may not garner much attention in the media; however, it is through those efforts that things get done, that needed to get done. Playgrounds are built, parks are cleaned up, homes are rehabilitated, meals are delivered to shut-ins and so much more.

Sometimes the results of a dedicated and tireless effort does have worldwide impact, such and the Rotary International effort to eradicate polio. Rotary clubs joined the fight against polio in 1979 with a campaign to provide polio vaccine around the world until polio was totally eradicated. By 2018 the campaign has achieved a 99.9% success rate against the polio virus worldwide and the fight continues to take the vaccine into the most remote regions of the world where the virus still exists.

The second quote that I used was from Helen Hayes –
“We relish our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to someone.”

To those children who otherwise might go hungry this summer, the heroes are those who make sure that the school meals programs continue through the summer vacation. To those shut-in who might otherwise go hungry, the Meals on Wheels van drive is a hero. To the homeless veterans who otherwise would not have a blanket to sleep under or a new coat to wear when it get cold, the heroes were those who collected and distributed those gifts. To the child who wandered down the wrong path for a while the heroes arehomeless man those who reach out to help and counsel and not just to condemn. To the widows who lost a husband in war or in service to the community, the heroes are those who offered support and comfort and helped then find a way through their grief and the strength to go on.

There are many who toil in the background who probably never get an award or recognition of any sort from those that their efforts help or whose lives are made better because of their efforts. I was fortunate enough to be recognized for some of what I try to do in the community that I live in, but I think it is important to take a moment every now and then to give thanks for all who serve their communities and those in need there. They don’t do it to get recognition. They do it because it needs to be done and they have answered the call to do it.

Here are a couple of quotes that I found since that night that I wish I had used then, especially in this highly charged political year –

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” — Unknown

I write here often about getting out and serving others by volunteering for things in your community that need to be done. I also write about self-help quite often and dealing with life. That’s one reason that I like this quote by Mahatma Gandhi –

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

So, find something that needs to be done in your community and just do it. Volunteer. Serve. Find yourself.

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4th of July Parade Seeks Sponsors and Participants

June 14, 2017

I realize that many of the followers of this blog are not local to Milford, Michigan or even in this country; however, many are, so I wanted to publish this press release about our upcoming Independence Day Parade.

The Milford Historical Society is seeking both sponsors and participants for the 2017 Huron Valley Independence Day Parade (the 4th of July Parade) in downtown Milford. Norm Werner, co-chairman of the 4th of July Parade Committee said, “We want to do things to improve the parade and those things generally cost money. Just to do a flyover with a few planes can cost up to $1,000. Other things that could be added also come at a cost, also. We are seeking contributions from local businesses to help off-set those costs.”

The Independence Day Parade is organized and run by the Milford Historical Society, which is a 501c3 Non-Profit located in Milford. The Milford Historical Society runs the Milford Historical Museum in Milford and hosts several events during the year, including the Granny’s Attic Sale and the Milford Home tour, in addition to the parade.

Werner also said, “We are also looking for more participants this year and encourage local business and organizations to get into the parade lineup. Groups may march in the parade or have a vehicle or a float, or do all three. It’s a great way to promote your business or organization and to say thank you to the community for their support. We especially would like to get boy and girl scout troops back into the parade, as well as Brownies and Cub Scouts. Any bands or group from bands would also be great to have.” This year Kensington Metropark will have their team of Clydesdales pulling their big wagon in the parade.

The parade is held on the 4th of July, which hits on a Tuesday this year. The parade lineup starts at 10 AM and the parade steps off at 11 AM. The parade will line up again this year on N. Main/N. Milford Road north of Commerce and on Union and Hickory Streets. Once you have registered to be in the parade you will be assigned a parade slot and be given a map to your lineup location. “We hope to have more participation by military and patriotic groups this year”, Werner said. “We’re also in need of volunteers to help with running he parade by being street guards or directing the parade participants.”

For information about the parade and to download a Parade Participant application and parade rules, visit the web site Milfordhistory.org. Companies or organizations wishing to help sponsor the parade will also find a Parade Sponsor form at that web site or they may call Norm Werner at 248-763-2497 or Rich Harrison at 248-935-5556. Volunteers for the parade should call either Norm or Rich.


Get up and show up, or shut up…

June 24, 2015

“Many are called, but few get up.”  (Oliver Herford) That little saying that I first saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog begs for a follow-on addition – and fewer yet show up.

volunteersI am involved with a few small volunteer groups at my church, with the Milford Historical Society and the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce. Each of these groups depends greatly on the help of volunteers to run event and get things done. They all use some sort of call to action and have things like sign-up sheets and volunteer forms. They put out widespread calls for volunteers in emails, newsletters or from the pulpit. Each also suffers from the malaise indicated by our little quote of the day – many are called but few get up (or sign up). Even worse is the fact that of those who sign up only a portion actually show up to do the work that needs to be done.

It’s relatively easy to sign up for something and then blow it off later. Those people get the “PR benefit” of having your name out there on the list as a volunteer, but then don’t do the work. That’s a little disgusting to those who do show up time after time, which is what normally happens in these little organizations – the same core group ends up doing all of the work for the group. Almost as disgusting are those who show up but consider the task at hand to be socializing rather than actually working – you know the type who take a selfie to post on their Facebook page but never really lift a finger to help.

opinionatedWhat are even more disgusting sometimes are the critical comments that you hear later from people who didn’t volunteer or who volunteered but didn’t show up. These are people who stand back and go “tut, tut; I could have done better than that.” Well, why didn’t you? One just wants to say something to them like “put up or shut up”; but, of course, one doesn’t because that would not be polite. Some of those folks are people who were active in the group for a while and now just rest on the laurels of their bygone volunteer work. Their comments usually start with “Well, when we did that, we…”

I wrote here recently about reacting to the call for help from others and that is an example of the same thing. Many people may hear those calls, but few get up to help. Fewer yet actually show up to help. Perhaps that s because we have made it easier and socially acceptable to just give money, rather than dirty our hands with the work that needs to be done. It is so much easier to just write a check than to get up and show up at the homeless shelter to serve a meal to someone in need. It is safer to drop some money into a collection pot than to visit the inner city to help a person sleeping in a doorway. I must admit that I take that way out (or perhaps that way to feel OK about myself) rather than get up and show up where the work needs to be done.

caregiverOne doesn’t have to sign up for a huge project to save the world. There are many small local organizations in every community doing wonderful things to help and they need your help. Find the local groups like Zonta or the Red Cross or The Wounded Warrior group or your church and find out what they need help with right now. Fortunately there is always something that needs doing and they are always looking for volunteers. Then get up, sign up, and show up.

You may not get an award for your service (that seldom happens) or even much of a thank you from the people that you are helping; but, at the end of the day there’s a spot in your soul that will feel a little warmer and a sense of satisfaction that when you were called you got up and you showed up. If you aren’t going to do that, at least have the good sense to shut up.

Have a great rest of the week.