Speaking to Kiwanis and Learning from Them

November 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

This week I had the opportunity to speak to a Kiwanis club in Kitchener. The setting was a meeting room in Winston Park, a retirement centre.

All members of this division have had a range of education and positions—high school teacher, lab technician, and I’m guessing, some labourers too. The average age of members, I was told, is about 72.

On further research, I learned that the mission of this international organization is to serve the children of the world. Their values include giving first thought to “the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life” and to encourage living by the Golden Rule.

The meeting room was already set up when I arrived, and people chatted with each other while someone played lively music on the piano.  A mirror on one long wall made the room look twice its size, and chairs lined up in short rows faced a lectern. Tables were ready for my books, and someone offered me coffee.

A large banner hung near the front displaying ribbons and badges that represented special events and projects they had supported. A very full banner, which John Wilson said is the second one they’ve filled.

Beth Waring, Vice-President, had told me that the meeting would begin with prayer and so it did. After a brief sing-along, they welcomed me to their meeting and began the business part of their meeting.

Another local group that had initiated the Meals on Wheels program was seeking help to deliver Christmas dinners. Kiwanis also supports the popular shoebox gift project run by Samaritan’s Purse.

My message, about adapting to change, or more accurately how to get a new job or work when the situation requires, may seem more fitted to younger members of the population who need to provide for a family and those for whom retirement is not yet an option. Still there was room for adapting and tailoring my message to people in their age group—where no member is looking for a new job to pay their bills.

What the current members of this club may be looking for is a way to adapt to the changes of being retired, whether it be health-related issues—and driving or not— while still contributing to society as they are able.

These members are so committed that they will keep coming as long as they are able, even if the bus or someone else has to provide the transportation.

When I talked about facing changes in jobs, I saw people nodding their heads. Some of them had indeed lost jobs or been edged out of work, then had to find a new one. They, too, had felt lost, stuck and frustrated at such times.

While their world was different than mine, they understood about not having work and needing it. They understood core values such as working to support their families and contributing to their community and country.

When I spoke of skills that people already have and figuring out how to move forward, they were listening too. And when I asked them to dream about a new place where they could useful, they were with me.

“Would you take on a leadership role in this organization?” I asked. “Could you mentor a young person from your years of work experience?”

Living in a world that often values the young over the older members of society, and addressing them as valued members who are still learning and contributing, I gained their appreciation and applause.

In conversation afterwards, I learned about some of the challenges they had faced. A woman who had been an x-ray technician had experienced the loss of a good job. A gentleman mentioned that losing a job made it hard for some to get up back up again; he thanked me for my positive message.

I may have been there to share my message, but in that room, I had kindred spirits.


Entry filed under: community, lifestyle, speaking. Tags: , , .

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