What have you done for me lately?

Criss Garcia, Ashland Elks #944 PER 08-09

I have an enduring faith in community service and the demonstrated ability to harness citizen's collaborative potential to bring about positive outcomes in the public sphere through participation and dialog.

To say that I was raised to value community and the importance of being a good neighbor and citizen would ascribe to others the commitment I feel in my heart for simply doing the right thing.  I was raised by a family that valued military and civil service, there is an opportunity to improve yourself and your station in life through  service to your country.  As citizens in a meritocracy we achieve greatness for our society through the betterment of ourselves and service to others.

We must educate ourselves,  and show commitment through work hard, contributing what we can so that everyone in our society can reach their full potential.  For me, there are few organizations that embody this commitment like the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.  Founded by actors after the civil war to provide care to the vulnerable in our society, those who have served our country, our veterans and their families.  The Elks provide more scholarships for youth than any other organization except the federal goverment.

Consisting of over 2000 regional, independent lodges like Ashland's today Elks number about a million people worldwide.  My grandpa was an Exalted Ruler and District Deputy, my mom was President of the Elkettes, but I came to the Elks on my own path and for my own reasons.  With over 700 local members, eight staff and a comprehensive budget well into seven figures. With numerous volunteer events to coordinate, my leadership role was at different times that of a CEO, a mentor and a member of the trustee board. It was a critical requirement to know and uphold the statutes and requirements of the local and national organizations, along with state law and local regulations as they pertain to charter non-profits. The leadership positions require tireless group consensus building, and the ability to formulate and communicate clear goals for the group.  It was a big commitment and while I enjoyed it, I'm glad to have wound down my commitments to putting on Oktoberfest and helping with the annual haunted house for kids every year!

If fraternal organizations aren't your thing, consider giving blood.  I personally find it gratifying to be able to donate blood to someone whose life may be on the line during surgery or after an accident. Its been harder and harder to find qualified donors over the years and as they say, the life you save may be your own!

I currently serve on the City Council of my current community Jacksonville, Oregon.  Serving on the City Council for a  National Historic Landmark is an important responsibility and one that I take very seriously.  I seek to be objective and non biased even while I have passion and opinions around some of the issues.  What most people don't realize is that the City Council typically is very constrained by the bounds of code and charter in the decisions we make. Whether we're talking about building code or corporate governance, it needs to be clear to understand, transparent to those involved and fair in execution.

Its not what you do, but why you do it!


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