Service – What it Means to Me

 

ground group growth hands
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Wow, it’s true that time goes by more quickly as one gets older. And now that I’m a senior it really does fly! A year and a bit ago I retired from working life again, or rather I was retired. As much as I enjoyed working as a city councillor, I was not re-elected so I’m once again free to pursue a private life. Just before the election, I was asked to join a service club. I think the group felt I could be an asset because I was a councillor and had connections at city hall. I hope they’ve learned that I’m smart and knowledgeable and a good, eager member.

Here are the pros and cons of being in a service club. Our organization has what they call the “Five Pillars”. They are fight vision loss, fight childhood cancer, fight hunger, encourage diabetes awareness and help the environment. These can all be served at any level. from local to international, and all are worthy causes.

pile of gold round coins
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our club raises quite a bit of money which we then donate to charities who may not have the ability to raise as much or who need a boost in fundraising. We also have several hands on projects, some are easy and not time consuming, others require many person hours of work. Most of our projects are chosen to help our local community. Funds raised from the public are returned to the public in support of a local group or entity. If we raise money from the members solely, then that money may go to help our international foundation donate to needy projects around the world. This is a big plus when choosing a service club. Does it truly serve the community?

Belonging to a service organization is really beneficial to me personally. I like people and this group allows me to meet other like-minded folks and have some fun too. I get to meet and talk with members of the public. I get to put forward new ideas, that may or may not be used but at least they are out there. These are social benefits for anyone.

This type of group offers many benefits to those who chose to participate. In fact I’ve often wondered why there are members who join, pay the dues but don’t participate in any of our activities. This group has offered me a few new opportunities. We get the benefit of knowledge from those who have been with the club far longer. This isn’t always good, as you’ll see later, but it’s important to know the history of your group.

people taking group picture
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

For years many service clubs were for men only. Eventually the more forward thinking groups realized that women too needed to share that community spirit so women’s clubs were formed as off-shoots of the original men only organizations. Women were still not allowed to hold a higher office than that allowed in their local club. Though originally formed as a branch of the men’s associations. women proved to be equally adept at running fundraisers and putting in the hours need for actual service. And so most clubs began accepting female members and allowed them to move up the ranks both locally, in their districts and even internationally. There are still some of the old guys networks that refuse to allow women, but they are quickly becoming obsolete. That said there are still a few women’s groups also that don’t want to amalgamate but they are soon to be eased into becoming one big club. By belonging to a diversified club, I have the opportunity to advocate for women, to encourage younger women to join and to mentor if that’s necessary. It’s a win-win for me.

Although I have tried to boost the benefits of joining a service group, there is a bit of a downside. Gaining new members can be hard. Young parents often have to commute from work to home, leaving little time for an extra-curricular activity. Their children are involved in teams or lessons that take place in the early evenings. Combat these issues by being more lenient in attendance needs, cut meetings from two or three to one per month, pique interest with exciting activities the whole family can enjoy.

We are members of what we jokingly call the STP group, or the same ten people group. It seems that much of our activity is done by the same people every time, no matter what the event. This is terribly frustrating because there is such a variety of experiences available to members. But we take a deep breath and carry on. You cannot force someone to participate.

The above paragraph leads into that famous statement “we’ve always done it this way”. Guess what – it’s time for change! It can be a long, slow process but things will eventually change and most often the change is better. Being stuck in a time warp means a lack of transparency and accountability. Isn’t this something we demand from our politicians? Ask it of your club executive as well, change has to come from within! One on-going battle is how long it takes to move up from being a member to the club executive and so on. Our members bring many years of life experience with them yet hit a brick wall when it comes to moving up in the organization. Or if they do move up, they are given very little help in fulfilling the role. It’s really a great way to lose active members.

My last complaint is with the cliques. Part of the reason I joined a service club was to meet people. I’m very outgoing and will talk to everyone whether I know them or not and, I realize that everyone isn’t the same. I see chairs tipped up that indicates ONLY OUR FRIENDS can sit here. How off-putting is that?  But I have to ask, if you stick with only your friends and don’t participate in the groups’ activities, why did you join?

chalk-chalkboard-close-up-415068

 

All that said, I hope you consider joining a service group. Change can only come from within whether that’s from within you or within the club. Service benefits not only the receivers but those who give as well.

 

 

 

Camera Ready!

camera-4509481_1920
photo by Christian Mackie on Unsplash

A few years ago, when I first started this blog, I was told that adding pictures to my blog would catch interest and make it easier to read by giving the eyes some relief. Okay but how the heck do I do that? I found that WordPress was pretty good at telling me how to add pictures but my pictures were sure not worthy. I’m not a photographer. I’m one of those people who knows what I like but there was no way I could replicate any type of visual art. So the hunt was on!

As I’ve said in a previous blog, Google is my friend, and I set off on the hunt for sites that had pictures I could use. There are thousands of photographs, called stock photos,  available to anyone, but there are some things to watch for. First, many sites will charge you for the use of a photo, so beware. Many free sites aren’t really free but do put out a few free photos each week. You can use these without charge, but the sites usually ask for your information. Of course it’s your decision whether or not to give it out but is really not necessary. Watch out for copyright infringement.

I’ve found two that are very user friendly. They don’t ask for personal information and there are many photos and graphics, sorted into categories, available to download. It’s fun sorting through for just the right shot and I confess I sometimes get distracted and spend a little too much time on the hunt. My two favourites are Pexel and Unsplash. Both sites have a “donate” button; it’s optional but they ask too that you give credit to the photographer who owns the picture. Often a credit comes up at the bottom of your photo when posted, but if not your blog site help tab can show you how to add a credit. Now I try to make sure that credit is given where it’s due and if you don’t see that caption on a picture on my blog, that means I took it myself!

blur-camera-camera-lens-752525
Photo by Omar Houchamil on Pexel

Yes, I am going to take pictures myself! I have already done a few; actually on a previous blog, Writing on Writing, the two pictures used there were my idea and taken by my husband. Neither of us are artistically minded but we try hard to follow the rules of photography. So what are those rules that I’m trying hard to follow?

  •      Take your camera everywhere. You can’t take pictures without it! Those pics you don’t like can be easily deleted.
  •      Get closer to your subject. You might think it’s good but a few feet closer can make it even better.
  •      Practice every day.
  •      If you photograph people, ask their permission before using their photos.
  •      Read your camera manual. It really has some good information.
  •      Beware of backgrounds. Or things to one side, like garbage cans. They just don’t look quite right.

And there you have it. I believe that pictures do make a lovely addition to everyone’s blog.

Fun Times; Day Trip

It’s been quite a while since my last day trip. So long in fact, that I can’t remember it. A very good friend and I decided to take a day to ourselves and went off to explore an area a little northeast of here. There is a purpose in the jaunts we take. We scout out the various shops in small towns and villages and if we like what we see, we’ll come back, a little closer to Christmas, to shop more seriously.

wide angle photo of road
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

We decided, on this particular day, to head up to Alderville, through there to some smaller villages and then over to Campbellford, our ultimate destination. I decided to forego the Tom-Tom mapping thingy for our car but I did google the directions the night before. Found out that google does not have complete directions. It missed a road and added another. But the route makes for a beautiful drive, in spite of a heavy mist and we could still appreciate the autumn colours. Still in full display, I think they’re just hitting their peak. Beautiful golds and vibrant reds but guess what? I forgot to bring my camera and I realize blogging is not like riding a bike, sometimes you forget things that are important for making a blog more interesting, like a camera.

Since between google and I, the route was fairly easy, we only got lost twice. I am not averse to asking for directions and we stopped at a small auto repair place and the second time at the post office. People in small towns are so helpful and friendly that we couldn’t go wrong. Alderville is a native reserve, there are some gift shops that warrant a second look but also a number of natural “medicine” shops. We passed through many little villages, Roseneath, Hastings, we accidentally went through Warkworth. But we made it to our final destination without major issues.

brown chocolate bar
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Campbellford itself is a fantastic small town! There are many interesting, attractive  small shops in the downtown. We didn’t have time to stop at them but for sure we will on our next visit. We headed directly to our first planned shopping excursion at the World’s Finest Chocolate Store. Who could resist such a place? They sell factory seconds, chocolate that may come out a little misshapen but tastes just fine as well as beautifully finished product. I of course picked up a few samples, as well as a few things for stocking stuffers. Tasty Christmas indeed!

selective focus photo of cheese and grater on plate
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Next on the list of go-to’s is the Empire Cheese Factory, about ten kilometres south of town. Wow, just wow. We love cheese and this is all locally produced. They have many different types, many with chilis or jalopenos added, some with a boost of garlic even.  I got extra old cheddar, medium marble and some caramelized onion cheese. As well I picked up some special jelly, also locally produced, for the hubby’s Christmas stocking. My friend picked her cheese types and she included curds. With so many types of cheese, jams, jellies and syrup to choose from, I can say that we will be visiting again before Christmas!

Exploring the surrounding countryside is just so much fun when you do it with a friend who doesn’t mind getting lost, or having a very late lunch. We just have a ton of fun together and these little side trips are just a part of our friendship.