Eat Healthy? — Already broke that one!
Stop Running Red Lights?– I’m sure that locally installed traffic cameras will help me with this one!
Organize my sock drawer? — Maybe tomorrow.
Change my underwear at least once a month? — Got a few weeks to go before I break THAT one!

How about… SERVICE?

 I was reminded recently about how little we give of ourselves in service to others (our friends, community, country) by the passing of Hall of Fame pitcher, Bob Feller (click here for his story).

Bob Feller began his baseball career in his teens and by his twenty-first birthday was one of the best pitchers to ever play the game. In the days before radar guns, his fastball was estimated near 100 mph. Also, in the days when the sport of baseball was king, he was one of its biggest and highest paid stars.

When the U.S. entered World War II, at the height of his career, Bob left baseball to join the Navy. Because his father was terminally ill, he was exempt from military service but his sense of service compelled him to abandon fame and fortune, and to risk career-ending injury and possibly death in order to answer the call of duty (click here for more). He was not alone; other sports figures and celebrities (Ted Williams  and Joe DiMaggio comes to mind) also put their successful careers on hold to serve their country.

Who among today’s crop of superstars and celebrities do you really think would make the same sacrifice (other than Pat Tillman)? These are our ‘heroes’; the ones our sons and daughters idolize; who ask us to buy their sports jerseys and endorsed footwear. I know that I am a cynic but I don’t believe any of today’s celebrity figures would do anything that required sacrifice. Gazillionaire celebrities donating money to charities or inner city sport programs does not count as a sacrifice; not when the donated amount pales in comparison to their net worth. Staged photo opportunity events (where celebrities and athletes “donate” time and talent) are not a sacrifice (at least not by me!).

Service involves sacrifice. There isn’t a mother or father among you that wouldn’t give up something you want so that your child can have something they want. This is the meaning of service… to your family.

The men and women of Westchester Optimist also serve… and sacrifice. They give their time and talent to this organization which is dedicated to providing a friendly and healthy environment for the children of our community. While some members volunteer to be near their children participating in the club’s programs, some members have no children in our programs or have children that have long outgrown them. They have no motive other than … to serve.

My first encounter with the Westchester Optimists was in the fall of 1988; the club had a Christmas tree sales tent at the Westchester Mall and we had gone to buy a tree. I bought a tree but I remember getting something of much greater value – the sense of community from watching fathers, mothers, sons and daughters working together under that tent. All the people working there were a family, and I wanted to be a part of it. Throughout the years, the club has not lost that sense of ‘family’. As in all families, sometimes we disagree (sometimes vehemently) but, our Optimist brothers and sisters never lost sight of our mission: to serve.

The Westchester Optimists have numerous ideas for programs beyond sports but we need members and, more importantly, we need members who will actively serve. The sacrifice of your time and talent is what is needed. Don’t think that you haven’t anything to offer. I thought that I had nothing to offer when I was called to serve in several programs and those programs managed to survive in spite of my ignorance and pride.

Please add SERVICE to your list of resolutions for 2011. We hope to hear from you.