Giving Back to the Community

28 March, 2023

Amazing some of the things that go through your head while sitting in a dental chair. Things like high-speed drills, grinders, various sharp pointy objects, and old ground-out fillings. “Wait a minute”, “don’t swallow”, “now spit”! Of course, the dentist is curious about life-type things and constantly asks questions. Somehow, he seems to understand the answers, or does he? “Arrgh pnth’g sham goat thhn” I replied. And he nodded as if he understood. That stuff he had just injected me with was making me funny :)…

I had just come from my Tuesday noon Wauwatosa Kiwanis meeting at that point and was wearing my Kiwanis shirt. He asked what was Kiwanis and what we do. After sputtering to build a comprehensible word, and then to piece them into sentences, our dental assistant called up the Kiwanis website on her computer and started reading off some of the things that we do, for our communities and for our youth. We are a club of business professionals and our motto is “Serving the Children of the World”.

Wow, I so wanted to say more because locally, we have a much greater impact than anyone knows. We funded the handicap-accessible fishing pier at the Scout Lake Salvation Army Camp. We bought matching jackets for the Special Olympics swimming team from the Milwaukee area. We’ve helped purchase a bus and sponsored youth at Camp Wawbeek, our state Kiwanis camp for persons of various abilities. We sponsor a BSA Venturing Crew and provide them camp scholarships as well as sponsoring a Key Club at of the Wauwatosa’s high schools, East and West. There are many others.

Currently, I serve as the President-Elect of our local Wauwatosa Kiwanis and am moving into presidency fairly soon based on the health issues of some of our current members. I am being recycled because I was the president of our local Kiwanis chapter in the past and we need to grow membership. I have also chaired the Sponsored Youth and Youth Services committee for longer than I wish to remember. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was named a worldwide mentor for the Kiwanis Amplify program under the topic of Strategic Thinking. Yes, I am having fun, and meeting awesome people, as well as serving our local and greater communities.

There are two organizations that the Wauwatosa Kiwanis support locally that I would like to call out for just being awesome, cool, and excellent.

We The People Competition

Wauwatosa West has won the Wisconsin State “We The People” constitutional competition and will represent us on Capitol Hill on April 22nd through April 24th. This program is based on teaching and understanding the US Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and the many other institutions of government. Our kids appear in a simulated congressional hearing where they testify before a panel as they answer questions that demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the selected topics. They then compete with other high schools in Wisconsin for the honor of representing us before the final competition in Washington DC. These young adults are truly the best of the best. Chad Mateske is one of those teachers that will challenge his students to exceed their current level of excellence. I am proud to know him and his students and the Wauwatosa Kiwanis are proud to support them. Here is a picture of one of their teams presenting to the Kiwanis.

Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Kiwanis Autism Project

A former WI/UMI governor, Lynn Messer, got us started on this and is active today. As Kiwanians, we are based on helping youth, and those on the autism spectrum are often struggling with school. This was a Kiwanis natural. There are special software programs developed for assisting those on the autism spectrum and they are centered around the iPad platform. I have personally delivered multiple iPads to autistic children and the iPad is hardly even out of the box and the kid is there with it. Unfortunately, while I have some pictures around this, I cannot share them because this is sensitive to so many families. There are currently four iPads in my office waiting for me to deliver them to the approved youth. Since starting this project, over 1200 iPads have been delivered in our service area to the youth and their therapists — and we have the need for more as time and fundraising permits.

What do you do? How do you give back? One of the best ways to experience the Kiwanis and any of our many other local service clubs is to come and attend a meeting. We offer a meeting at no cost with the Wauwatosa Kiwanis to prospective new members and our guest speakers. We meet every Tuesday at noon at the Wauwatosa Radisson. By the way, we do the same thing here in the IBAW. If you are not a member, please come and check us out — both organizations!

At the end of the day, ask the question about how you are giving back to the community. For me, it was not only joining the Wauwatosa Kiwanis but also a number of other community-based organizations that support the causes I believe in. Pick one and do not just join, but actively participate. You’ll be glad you did!

Make a positive difference in this world!

Yup, that painkiller eventually wore off. I can speak normally (insert your joke here). And I have returned my dentist to my Christmas card list. I will be inviting him, and his assistant to an upcoming Kiwanis meeting!