Tuesday 17 January 2012

Tradition of Service Continues

Y's Men's Clubs and Y Service Clubs have been serving their communities since 1922 when Judge Paul William Alexander and a group of other young men founded the first Y's Men's Club to support their local YMCA.  As a service club of people "of and for the Y", the main partner and beneficiary of Y's Men's Clubs efforts is the local Y.  However, there are clubs in communities where there is no Y, and even in communities where there is a Y, the club partners with and supports other organizations in the community.
One such partnership is that between the Saint John (N.B.) Y's Men's Club and the local Salvation Army. This partnership has been ongoing for several years and functions throughout the year, but never more poignantly than in the Christmas season and through the toughest winter months.
During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Salvation Army in Saint John undertakes their Christmas Kettle  fundraising campaign.  In the 2011 campaign, the Saint John Y's Men's Club took over all the kettles in Saint John for a four-hour shift on a Friday evening.  All of the kettles in the greater Saint John area were manned by club members from 4:00 in the afternoon until closing at 8:00 freeing up other volunteers to man the kettles at another time.
Every year in early December, the local Salvation Army men's shelter "The Centre of Hope' hosts their annual "Feast of Christmas" where a full turkey dinner is put on for their clients, both resident in the shelter and those from the street.  Local celebrities and politicians come in and serve the dinner to the participants.  For the last several years, the local Y's Men's Club has supplied and cooked the vegetables for this dinner, plated the food and helped wait on the tables.
Again, for the past few years, members of the Saint John Club have gone to the Centre of Hope on Christmas Day to prepare and serve a Christmas Dinner for the residents so the staff of the residence can have the day off with their families.
Starting in early January, and continuing through to the end of April, the Saint John Y's Men's Club prepare and serve a hot meal every Saturday afternoon to anyone wishing to come in and partake, from the Salvation Army Community Church.  The diners range from street people to the working poor, to anyone wishing a hot meal.  The local soup kitchen is not open on the weekend, so this has been the only hot meal available to some of those coming in to eat.
The Saint John Club have a catering business which they use to raise funds for their Y and community service projects.  They also use those cooking skills to more directly serve the local community.  These are just some of the service projects that the Saint John club, and all other clubs in our area provide to their communities on an ongoing basis. 
The local Y's Men's Club or Y Service Club is and continues to be an integral part of their community.  Every club is somewhat different in the way they generate funds, and the organizations in their community that they serve.  The one thing that seems to be consistent across the many clubs is a hesitation to "blow their own horn" and talk about the good works that they do. 
Perhaps that humility is one of the reasons why they are so good at serving the community and the world at large.

Friday 26 August 2011

Why Do We Do It?

A few weeks ago I helped out at an event my local Y's Men's Club were doing.  Our club raises funds through the annual Home Show at the local arena and through catering.  Luckily, we have a few very good cooks in the club and we do a pretty good job at just about any size event you would like. 
This particular event a few weeks ago was a fund-raiser for a local politician and the club was asked to provide a lobster dinner, with a chicken alternative for those who didn't like lobster.  Can you imagine, someone not liking lobster?  Oh, well, to each their own.
During the event it occurred to me, not for the first time, that I was in the presence of some very special people.  Here it was, the middle of summer, on one of the few evenings where it had not been raining and there were nine club members working to prepare and serve lobster to this dinner.  Instead of being home with their families, or partaking in whatever hobbies they have, these guys had committed their evening from about 5:00 through to about 9:30.
I looked around and wondered, why do they do it?
Some do it because they enjoy the camaraderie, to be sure.  Generally speaking they are a good bunch of guys with interesting backgrounds, opinions, and attitudes.  To say they are all always fun to be with would be a bit of a stretch.  I will always remember something an "old hand" said to me when I joined the club.  He said, "there are some people in this club who will drive you absolutely crazy, but in the end, they always do the right thing".  After more than ten years in the club, I would have to agree with that sentiment.
Some do it just to get out of the house of an evening.  Many of them are retired so a catering job such as this is an opportunity to get out and stay active.  For some, I'm sure their wives like them out of the house a few evenings a month as well.
Some do it simply because they are committed to the mission.  Founded in Toledo, Ohio, USA in 1922 to support a local YMCA, Y's Men International is now oriented to serving the worldwide YMCA, the largest non-governmental youth organization, and through it the communities in which it is present throughout the world. Since the YMCA is usually known as "the Y" in the USA, and as the Y's Men movement started there as a club of "men of and for the Y", it was named the "Y's Men's Club".  Many clubs are now co-ed, and so go by the name Y Service Club.
Our club gives significant financial support to our local Y every year, but there are many other organizations, both locally and internationally, that benefit from the hard work of the members of this club.  They are making a difference in this world and I know that some members realize that every time they parade into a dinning room carrying heavy platters of lobster over their heads while wearing extremely warm sou'westers, and knowing they are making a difference in the world is enough to make them do it night after night.
The interesting thing that I have noticed is that virtually none of these members do it for any self-aggrandizement motives.  Unlike some other organizations I have belonged to, no one seems to be here because they get their picture in the paper, or it looks good on a resume.
They are here to make the world a better place.  And that, is pretty cool.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Gambare Nippon!

As we all are aware, Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11 of this year.  Over 11,000 people were believed killed (a number expected to climb), over 18,000 missing and over 180,000 displaced.
Y's Men International started a campaign, called Gambare Nippon! to "help the Japanese Y’s Men to effectively carry out their relief activities with YMCA Japan for the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami which struck Japan on 11 March 2011."  Y's Men's Clubs from all over the world raised funds to help in this relief effort.  To date, $102,755 USD has been raised and forwarded to Y's Men International to help in this effort, proving once again that Y's Men and Y's Service Clubs have a huge heart. 
This campaign will continue until September 2011, as the relief effort will be continuing for some time to come as people need to rebuild lives torn apart by this catastrophe.  
Check the YMI page for how to contribute to this campaign: http://ysmen.org/index.php?id=710