Cenla’s Civic and Service Organizations

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Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Coming together is the beginning.  Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”  This spirit motivates neighbors all over the country and world to unite in a spirit of community to work towards the common good.  With missions and programs as diverse as the individuals comprising their members, civic and service organizations build a sense of community while changing the world.  Cenla boasts numerous opportunities to get involved in this good work.  This month, we take a look at five of Cenla’s most active civic and service organizations.

 

Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. For more than 110 years, Rotary International and its members have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, Rotarians are always working to better our world, and stay committed to the end.

 

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.  This 24-word test  was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:

 

“Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

 

The 35,000+ Rotary clubs around the world work together to: promote peace; fight disease; provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene; save mothers and children; support education; and grow local communities.  Rotary offers great fellowship, outstanding programs and an opportunity to serve the community and world to its members.

 

In addition to supporting the global Rotary efforts, each club also develops local service projects and programs. For example, the Rotary Club of Alexandria has sponsored the Doll & Toy Fund for over 60 years, distributing gifts and toys to children throughout the community on the Saturday before Christmas.  Each year, Rotary clubs in their respective districts sponsor youth to attend RYLA Youth Leadership Summer Camp, where young men and women spend a week in a challenging program of discussions, inspirational addresses, leadership training and social activities designed to enhance personal development, leadership skills and good citizenship.

 

Rotary District 6190 boasts a dozen individual clubs throughout Central Louisiana.  For more information on Rotary and how to get involved, visit www.rotary.org.

 

100 Women Who Care About Central Louisiana began in January, 2016.  It is based on a national model of a popular trend called “Giving Circles.”  Any woman in Central Louisiana is welcome to join.  The group meets quarterly on the 3rd Tuesday of the month (January, April, July and October) from 5:30pm to 6:30pm for a social gathering.  During the gathering, the members select a local non-profit organization to receive funding.  Each woman makes a commitment to donate $100 per quarter to the selected charity.  Some of the organizations that have benefited include:  the Homeless Coalition, Manna House, ARC Rapides, Hope House and the Family Justice Center. Since 2016, 100 Women Who Care About Central Louisiana has donated over $85,000 to local non-profits.  The organization currently boasts about 100 members, but hopes to continue to grow its membership in order to have a greater impact on our community.  Being a member is a great way to meet people, network and learn more about the great work of various non-profits throughout the Central Louisiana community.

 

The members of 100 Women encourage any charity domiciled in Rapides Parish, that is non-religious, non-political and has been a 501(c)(3) non-profit for a year or more to apply for funds.  Charity application forms and Membership Forms can be found on the group’s website: http://judy323.wixsite.com/100womencenla.  The next gathering is Tuesday, July 17th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm in the Atrium of Cabrini’s Women & Children’s Hospital. For questions, to join, or for additional information, contact Judy Ginsburgh at judy@artsandhealthcare.org.

 

Kids are curious, lovable and hilarious. They are also wild, impatient and vulnerable. Kiwanis is looking out for kids in every corner of the globe with over 600,000 volunteers who serve their communities through local clubs. Kiwanis empowers communities to improve the world by making lasting differences in the lives of children. Local clubs look out for our communities while the international organization takes on large-scale challenges, such as fighting disease and poverty. Kiwanis members are passionate about making a difference while having fun along the way. The organization seeks to be a positive influence in communities worldwide—so that one day, all children will wake up in communities that believe in them, nurture them and provide the support they need to thrive.

 

Service is at the heart of every Kiwanis club, no matter where in the world it’s located. Members stage nearly 150,000 service projects and raise nearly $100 million every year for communities, families and projects. By working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. Kiwanis clubs focus on changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time. To reach more people and have a greater service impact on their communities, many clubs sponsor a Kiwanis family club—K-Kids for primary school children; Builders Clubs for adolescents; Key Clubs for teens; Circle K clubs for university students and Aktion Clubs for adults living with disabilities.

 

For more than a century, Kiwanis has created opportunities for children to be curious, safe and healthy regardless of the community in which they live. When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed and thrive, great things can happen.  Kiwanis boasts clubs throughout Central Louisiana, with a Kiwanis Camp located in Pineville.

 

Since its founding in 1901 by social activist Mary Harriman, The Junior League has evolved into one of the oldest, largest, and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world, encompassing more than 140,000 women in 291 Leagues in four countries. The Junior League of Alexandria (JLA) has been a part of the Cenla community for 77 years. Since 1941, members have devoted their time and talents to helping others. Whether it was mentoring at Camp Alpine, serving refreshments at the crippled children’s clinic, organizing Hip Hip for Gray, a Domestic Violence campaign, or producing events like Cenla KidzFest, the Junior League has reached out to those in need.

 

Since the League was established, it has opened and continued to operate the New to You thrift shop, established the Charity Hospital Auxiliary, sponsored an Art Appreciation Program in area schools, developed the Meals on Wheels program, initiated a Drug Awareness Conference, and conducted Heritage Trunk Tours at the Kent House. We are long time patrons of the Friends of the Alexandria Zoo, Central Louisiana Food Bank, Alexandria Museum of Art, and River Oaks Arts Square. Programs such as Hip! Hip! For Gray!, Bedside Buddies, Helping Hands grants, Mini-Grants for Teachers, and What are Hands For all began at the planning table of the League. Recently our League has evolved the VOA Pregnancy Closet, Foster Care Family Fun Day, Jumpstart to Success, Girls Rock!, and the mini market at the T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum.

 

JLA hosts the Inspiration Village for the Fall and Spring Girls on the Run Celebratory 5K and has incorporated Kids in the Kitchen with the event as well, providing healthy snack for the participants after the run.  The JLA also awards five $1,000 scholarships to female high school seniors who have participated to an exceptional degree in volunteer activities. The award is based on the number of volunteer hours as well as the quality of the service performed.

 

The JLA Grants Program supports other nonprofit organizations in the community who are working in the League’s focus area by awarding them direct financial assistance. The League’s community focus area is to educate children in grades 3 through 8 on healthy lifestyles in the areas of fitness, nutrition, and internet safety. Organizations who have received grants include the Alexandria Museum of Art, Food Bank of Central Louisiana, Rapides Parish Library, Manna House, T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum, Girls on the Run Central Louisiana, Fostering Community, Fit Families for Cenla, and A Perfect Fit Foundation, just to name a few. In 2017, $9,000 in grants were awarded. That increased to $10,000 in 2018.

 

Another program of the League is the Done in a Day (or Meeting) projects. The League has donated hand soaps and sanitizers to the Central Louisiana Homeless Coalition, filled supply packs with new school supplies for Cultivate, and donated supplies to Girls on the Run and the Family Justice Center.

 

For more information on the Junior League, visit jlalexandria.com.

 

Lions Clubs International, is a service membership organization of over 1.4 million members worldwide operating under a motto of, “We serve.”  Founded in 1917 by Melvin Jones, the Lions have striven to maintain a legacy of integrity and transparency as a well-run organization with a steady vision, a clear mission, and a long–and proud–history. Melvin Jones asked a simple and world-changing question: “What if people put their talents to work improving their communities?” Over a century later, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with more than 46,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let’s improve our communities.

 

Lions Clubs International extends its mission of service every day–in local communities, in all corners of the globe. The needs are great and services broad, including sight, health, youth, elderly, the environment and disaster relief. The Lions international network has grown to include over 200 countries and geographic areas.

 

Lions Club members are  changing lives and improving communities by engaging in service programs all over the globe, tackling large-scale humanitarian challenges with the help of grant funding opportunities.  The group also builds on a tradition of supporting youth by developing new ways to engage them as partners and leaders in service. Local Lions Clubs provide eye care and screening for those who cannot afford it, including eyeglasses and surgery.  Through the “Cub Sight” screening program, free vision screenings are conducted year-round for preschool children.  Most visual problems can be treated successfully during those ages, and so early detection through the program at local day care, Head Start and similar organizations is crucial.

 

The Lions Club also sponsors Lions Camp for handicapped children. The Louisiana Lions Camp is a non-profit, American Camp Association-accredited residential summer camp, owned and operated by the Louisiana Lions League, Inc.  The League is funded by the Lions Clubs of Louisiana, Multiple District 8. The camp, located in west Central Louisiana on 173 acres, 6 miles north of Leesville, is free for boys and girls with qualifying Special Needs, Diabetes, and Pulmonary Disorders.  The Lions Clubs across the state sponsor youngsters in their local areas to attend one of seven weeklong sessions during the months of June and July at no cost. Although their handicaps remain, they leave with a more positive image of themselves.

 

For more information on how to get involved with the Lions Club International, visit www.lcif.org.

 

Opportunities to foster a sense of community through service abound in Central Louisiana.  These are just a few of the great ways to get involved and help to change all our lives for the better.  If you’re not already involved in a civic or service organization, consider giving of your time and talents.  When we come together for the common good, everybody wins!