Wanted:Gently Used Coats

There is no question that the current drop in temperatures has me thinking about a severe winter. Part of my downsizing effort had me looking through my closets for stuff to eliminate. There hanging by its lonesome was my winter coat. It is a down jacket that has served me well and is lacking a zipper pull. I fixed it by threading an oversized paper clip through the eye. It works fine, it keeps me warm, but I’m thinking I could use a nicer coat. Then I wondered how many people there are out there like me who are looking to eliminate a coat from the wardrobe? Probably a few more. Then it occurred to me that I am a Lion. Collecting and distributing used winter coats would make a great service project for the club.

I’ll make a presentation this evening to my board of directors and see how it flies. As part of my research I went to the internet and searched for coat collections. WOW! Lots of people are doing it, and that signals a genuine need. That is, there must be a bunch of homeless or needy people who can use some warmth.

So what do I do when we get a bunch of coats collected and now we have to do something with them. The internet offers multiple organizations that will accept gently used coats. I wasn’t surprised to see that The Burlington Coat Factory was amongst them. Most likely our club will donate them to a local organization called Together We Cope, or the Salvation Army, or the neighboring VFW that is collecting coats for veterans.

We can also accept cash donations towards the purchase of coats for anyone we find in need. Since we service up to twenty-eight families with holiday food they might also be needing some warm coats.

The trick is to let the public know what we are doing and to ask them to help with donations. Spreading the word to friends and neighbors via email or on Facebook should be easy enough even for guys like me.

Probably the toughest thing to do is to get a very large box (gaylord) to place coats into.

A Little Bit Tipsy

What do you do when you are a little bit tipsy and you want to post for your blog? You write whatever comes to mind of course. That is where I am at this moment. In a few seconds the tipsy will wear off and I’ll begin to make some sense. Tipsy is a condition one feels immediately after a glass of wine with a pizza. The feeling can only be described as light headed, happy, whimsical. I will continue after returning from a two mile walk and a break with another glass of wine, that is if I get lucky with my drinking partner.

Well I’m unhappy to report that the drinking partner fizzed out and the walk took a direction away from wine and turned into three miles, not two. Returning home exhausted I watched my favorite series Heartland for a couple hours and then turned to Tin Star. I finished the first season of Tin Star and was totally surprised at how it ended. The writer of this program solves all problems with alcohol and murder.

I retired for the evening and slept hard waking only to relieve the pain of an over full bladder. I am so sick of eggs for breakfast that this morning I had some left over chili. The carbs in the chili have left me very sleepy. All I want to do is to rest my head on the keyboard and sleep.

This evening I meet with my Lions club; half of us will be in person and the other half will be with us on ZOOM. Our speaker for the night is also on ZOOM. That should make things very interesting. Think of twenty five people spaced apart for social distancing all straining to see a postage stamp size image on a computer screen to hear a speaker. If this works, I’ll proclaim it a miracle.

I anticipated the problem last week and have made arrangements with the Park District to borrow their fifty-inch TV for our zoom presentation. One of our members is an IT man and he has promised to hook the TV into the laptop and to connect our microphone and speaker. I’m hoping this will set a new trend for zoom-in-person meetings.

My job tonight is to recruit Lions for three service projects: the first being a paint party to coat Fort Frankfort with a clear coat of sealant. The second is to recruit Lions to plant a few trees in a newly rehabbed park. Lastly, I must form a committee to plan and run an eightieth anniversary celebration/fund raiser. The Frankfort Lions celebrate eighty-years of continuous service to the community in February, 2021. What better way to celebrate than by having fun while raising money to keep serving. The whole plan will be dependent upon us meeting State of Illinois guidelines for COVID-19. I’m thinking that by then Illinois or at least Will County will be totally free to do as it pleases.

I mentioned Fort Frankfort above. Let me explain what it is. Twenty years ago a group of citizens formed an organization to build a playground for the kids. This playground is huge and unlike any other in neighboring communities. It was funded and built by the hands of Frankfort residents. Fort Frankfort resides in the center of a very large tract of land which has since become a mecca of outdoor recreation with lighted ball fields, soccer fields, a splash park, a dog park, tennis ball courts, pickle ball courts, volley ball courts, basketball courts, frisbee golf, walking paths and more. All because a group residents wanted to give the kids a safe and adventurous place to play. The Park District developed a showcase facility around Fort Frankfort.

Positive Imaging

What to talk about today? The sky is cloudy and rain is imminent. There are still too many weeds to pull in the garden, but I’m not into it. My attitude is dreadfully morose. That condition requires me to work overtime to eliminate. How? By prayer, and huge doses of mindless work of some kind, like writing a post for my blog.

My life which was filled with the activity of caring for my late wife, and has become empty. The virus has cooled my second passion after Peggy, the Lions Club, and I am very down about the members not showing any interest in revving up the juices to serve the community. Many of our members are my age and some older, so they are afraid of their shadow and are hunkered down. I still think I act and feel twenty years younger than the average aged 62 year old in our club. Just yesterday, I attended an online Zoom webinar on virtual fund raising. I was amazed by the activity presented by a newly formed club during the pandemic. They chartered as a virtual club, meaning they don’t meet in person. All of their communication and activities are done using eMail, Messaging, Zoom, Facebook, Youtube, and other social media platforms. They collect money using apps like Go Fund Me and PayPal. Their projects, what ever they are, require fund raising. I have often thought that lots of activities that require fund raising for each one is a smarter way to keep club members engaged and active. The one giant fund raiser of the year approach which our club evolved into requires a huge effort during the fund raising process which wears everyone out for further activity. In the meantime members leave because there is not a lot of activity for them to participate in to bring service to the town, and which gives them a feeling of “giving back”.

Another habit or culture that our aged club has evolved into is to write checks to help causes within the town, this is a good thing. What is bad about it is that the causes are determined by a very limited number of people who decide behind closed doors how much should be donated, and who will get it. The list of charities is then presented to the regular membership for approval. That vote for approval is the only action a person gets to make him feel he is giving back to the community. On the opposite side of this process is the scheme which has members bringing project ideas to the services committee for approval and then they organize into a team to raise funds to bring the idea to fruition. This method gets more members directly involved with the implementation of the service. It all sounds good on paper. The downside is that our culture at this point works against such a system. The one big project for the year system seems to shade out any new activity. It’s kind of like trying to present an idea to Congress who will discuss, debate, present to committee, and maybe vote to bring it into law. Nothing happens fast. In our world today the key words are fast, action, team, solution, next!

Above I stated that I think younger than the average person in the club even though I am in the upper quartile of senior members. I must learn how to present ideas to the hipsters because my ideas don’t gather any interest for action by the young crowd. For them these things all sound like a dirty four letter word spelled W-O-R-K. If they can’t push a button or get it done on a keyboard it isn’t for them to do. That is what frustrates the hell out of me. I can get more done using those tools even though I am a dinosaur pushing the keys and thinking outside the box. All I can do is to continue to push ideas into their brains and hope these thoughts break through the blood-brain-barrier. In the mean time I will remain despondent about my ability to lead this club forward.

Now, I have to take a long walk to build a pile of endorphins, and follow it up with a mediative trance during which I will envision myself making a ground breaking positive presentation that will cause members to line up with ideas and a desire to serve.

Day 57-SIP-Volunteer to Serve

There is no question but that the COVID-19 is still very active in my county. Today’s report added 77 new cases of confirmed Corona virus. That brings our total to 3,973 cases. I’d like to see it coming down, but there are a lot of other things I would like too, but never seem to get my wish.

Every year at this time I would like to see so many people step up and want to be leaders in our local Lions Club that we have to turn people away. That hasn’t happened yet. Why is it that whenever a person is asked to take on a leadership role he/she shirks the responsibility? Only a very few special people want to lead. The remainder are satisfied being led.

My experience with volunteer groups spreads over a span of fifty years and many organizations, and it volunteering to lead hasn’t changed. Even worse yet, I have still not learned the secret of recruiting successfully. One thing I did learn however, is that people want to belong to an active moving club with a positive attitude. Nobody wants to join a negative, sorry-assed, dead club, and I don’t blame them. Why would I join a club whose reputation is for doing nothing. When I join something it is because i believe in the activities and function of the club. When I joined a bicycle club I joined because I wanted to meet bike riders who I could ride with. Riding alone most of the time is boring. I joined the Boy Scouts of America because i wanted my son to have a decent Troop to join into. I joined the Garden club because I was tired of killing plants and wanted to learn how to make flowers grow. I first joined the Lions because I needed something to deflect the grief I suffered from my wife’s death. Then, after I joined and learned what a great organization they are I dedicated my life to helping our club to serve the community.

As President of the Frankfort Lions I conducted a survey to determine how to make the club serve more. One of the things I learned was that most people join because they want to ‘give back.’ They feel so blessed with their own life that they want to extend that same gift to others within their community. My philosophy has always been that serving the club as an officer is serving the community, and qualifies as ‘giving back.’

An organization that is over a hundred years old and still growing has to have something going for it. Lions are pushing 1.5 millions members in over 200 countries, and in 45,000 clubs. We all follow the same goals, the same ethics, the same constitution and by-laws. Only our languages, customs, and ethnicities differ.

When I first joined I learned that Lions were challenged by Helen Keller to become the Knights of the Blind. At the time I didn’t know a single blind person and thought that perhaps the need for helping the blind has diminished since 1925 when she made the challenge. I was wrong. The number of people who are blind is growing. As the population ages more and more of us is affected by age related macular degeneration. The longer one lives the better his chances of losing vision becomes.

A detailed macro shot of a blue woman human eye.
Lions Of Illinois Foundation Mobile Hearing and Vision Screening Vans

By a process of evolution I have become involved in helping the blind. First by manning our specially equipped mobile vision screening van. We schedule a date for the van and invite the public to come and get thier eyes screened for diseases like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and more. More recently, I helped initiate a children’s vision screening program within our village. Lions purchased a special camera to measure the eye. The camera compares measurements to what is normal. If a measurement is out of the normal range it alerts us to send that kid to get his eyes examined by a professional. So far, we have screened two thousand kids and we’ve alerted two hundred. Many of those 200 kids now wear glasses to make their vision better.

Lions learned that pre-school aged kids have problems that can be corrected before a kid starts kindergarten. Yet, most school districts will not require testing until a kid enters first grade. Lions believe that if a pre-schooler is screened and found to have a problem that his eyes can be corrected by the time he enters school. All kids should have the same advantage for an education. If one of them has a problem seeing the materials he is at a disadvantage.

Frankfort Lions Conduct a Vision Screening at Movie on the Green Where They Also Distribute Free Pop Corn

Since COVID-19 we have put our screening programs on hold, and we hope there is some way to get them rolling again soon. Stay tuned I’m working on it.

Day 47-SIP-A Letter To My Friends

3 May 2020

To My Lion Friends:

            It seems like forever since we last met, but it has only been since our last government allowed meeting in February. I miss you all. I miss the meals together, the drinks, the congenial fellowship, the back slapping, and hilarious but crude jokes. I feel like I should be doing something more than just sitting around avoiding a chance meeting with a virus. There has to be something we can do as a club that does not involve meeting in person and face to face as a group. 

There is a way to have a meeting using technology called Zoom, and it might even be fun. What is Zoom you ask? It is a virtual meeting that takes place via the internet. If you agree, I will set a meeting time (like at 6:30 p.m. 9 May 2020, our regular meeting night) and then you will click on the link in the email that takes you to the meeting. Your face and voice will be heard on the screen. Lady Lions please have your make up and hair done before signing on. Male Lions please wear your Lions Vest, pants are optional since we’ll only see your face. Shaving is also optional, but you may want to show off your new COVID mustache, or beard.

All of us will be seen on the screen in separate frames. If you don’t have a computer with a camera, you can substitute a smart phone or tablet by calling a local-number in the same e-mail, If that doesn’t work you can call in on a regular phone but we won’t see your face. That may be a good thing. If you are looking grizzly on Monday and don’t want to scare the rest of us you can substitute your high school graduation picture by using the share-upload feature of the program.

You Too Can Be on This Screen

            Of course, with so many people on the same phone call the meeting leader will have to shut off your sound, and only give voice to those who raise a hand (click on the hand icon) to be heard. That will be better than our regular meetings where the one who speaks the loudest gets the nod over those who are too meek to shout-over. Members who would rather speak to their cliques like you do at a regular meeting you can do so through the chat feature in total privacy. That too will also be an improvement over our regular meetings where the general sound level gets so high it drones out the President.

Of course we will not feature our monthly buffet dinner, but you may bring your home cooked tv dinner to the meeting and eat while the rest of us watch you and chat. Drinks will not be available either, but again, you can put a straw into the neck of your favorite libation and suck it down at will. If you happen to disappear from the screen we will know you had too much. If you won’t be home, don’t be bashful and call from your car, but be sure the phone is in a cup holder and aimed at your face. That way you won’t have to put your beer down.

I ask you to respond to the following:

1.) Do you want to meet this way? Yes or no

2.) Send your service ideas, and questions in advance

3. Good jokes are always welcome as long as they are appropriately phrased to keep them clean.

Here is hoping we can Zoom soon to serve our community.

Respectfully yours in Lionism,

Lion Grumpa Joe, Past President

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