When Midwest District Governor Penny Hall met with District Leadership Coordinator Sue Grant over dinner last summer, ideas began to percolate. What could be done to bring a geographically wide-spread group of 12 diverse Pilot Clubs together and promote Pilot, too? The creative duo left the table with preliminary plans for “A Day of Service”– a single day in which all Midwest Clubs could perform a service project in the name of Pilot.
One small glitch: when plans were unveiled, the chosen Saturday in October turned out not to be the best day for all Midwest clubs. The idea was too promising to drop; every club had been enthusiastic. So, why not stage a “Week of Service” instead? Governor Penny and the talented editor of the Heartland Herald newsletter, Pilot Jane Driscoll, and other leaders sprang into action, heavily promoting the plans to Midwest Clubs. Pilots were curious about what others would be doing during the Week. Jane even ran a Special Edition of the Herald to communicate some of the clubs’ proposed service projects in advance. At the district’s Fall Workshop in September, more service ideas were shared, plans were finalized, and Midwest clubs became even more enthusiastic about the possibilities before them.
The week of October 1 marked the inaugural All-Midwest Pilot Week of Service event, involving all 12 clubs and approximately 300 Pilot members in 4 states. One of unexpected perks of the Week’s success was the publicity and increased visibility the clubs gleaned from their respective communities.
Governor Penny said, “I was thrilled at the positive and cooperative spirit demonstrated by our clubs. I think this event had a great impact on our members and definitely united our district.”
All these projects were conducted by Midwest Pilots during the week of October 1-8, 2011:
- Pilot Club of Muscatine, IA gave BrainMindersTM presentations for preschoolers at the local library and various at tutoring and other sites in and around Muscatine– seven total. Each child who enjoyed the presentation received a coloring book and new box of crayons. Pilots also helped with registration and refreshments for the CROP walk.
- Pilot Club of Iowa City, IA sponsored and participated in the local Alzheimer’s Walk on Oct. 1, and volunteered at the University of Iowa MedFest for Special Olympics athletes. Pilots escorted athletes from one activity center to another, and one member helped organize the event that included health screenings offered to Special Olympics athletes. Members also participated in the city’s Fall Highway CleanUp project on a stretch of highway on the east side of the city, and held the club’s Annual Breakfast and Bazaar fundraiser.
- Pilot Club of Jacksonville, IL supports the local HELPS Ministry for needy families. Members also sported Pilot colors of green and yellow in the Illinois College Homecoming Parade to celebrate the club’s 60th Anniversary.
- Pilot Club of Milwaukee, WI members volunteered at the Milwaukee Catholic Home Holiday Bazaar and held a Pilot Brain Power Walk in the midst of the Alzheimer’s Walk, where they carried the club’s banner. They also made fleece security blankets and donated them to Milwaukee Children’s Hospital.
- Noon Pilot Club of Johnson County, IA members hosted a reception for the representatives of community organizations receiving grant funds from the club and for sponsors of the “Men Who Cook” fundraising project held on October 4. Several members represented the club in the Alzheimer’s Walk and in the Mind Matters Trivia Event with proceeds contributed to the Community Mental Health Center for Mid-Eastern Iowa.
- Pilot Club of Omaha, NE sponsored a Brain Power walk (its third walk this year!) to kick off the MidWest District’s Week of Service. Thirty people participated in the event by walking, riding bikes, and working puzzles to exercise their brains. The walk was held at the park that the club cleans for Keep Omaha Beautiful. Omaha Pilots had donated sewing machines, fleece, and thread to a special needs classroom to be used to teach students to sew. The students in the class made 17 fleece dog mats with these materials to be donated to a local vet who works with rescue dogs. The mats keep the dogs warm in the often cold, concrete kennels, and are sometimes given away with a dog if it is adopted. Some Omaha Pilots were on hand for the proud student presentation to the rescue personnel. The Omaha Club also assisted the Angel Guardians, a group that helps adults with special needs to participate in creative and fulfilling projects for the benefit of their community. In addition, Omaha Pilots teamed up with a solo volunteer (a brain tumor survivor), helping with her fundraiser titled “Tie One On for Brain Cancer.” This is an auction and sales of hand-knitted items. The club has decided to hold several “Knitting Nights” to help her build the knitted inventory.
- Pilot Club of Peoria, IL participated in two walks, one for for Juvenile Diabetes and one for Alzheimer’s. Members helped with registration and clerical tasks at the Alzheimer’s Walk. Peoria Pilots also provided and served lunch at The Peoria Blind Center.
- Pilot Club of Galesburg, IL hosted a concessions tent and project display at the Scarecrow Festival where they showcased BrainMinderTM Buddies, sold baked goods (including popcorn balls on a stick and scarecrow witches made of Tootsie Pops), and presented information on this year’s club projects. The club’s scarecrow entry at the festival was the popular character, “Bob the Builder,” which won a $25 2nd place prize in the “Heroes” category. At the festival, members recruited two potential new members who attended a Share Pilot meeting later that month.
- Pilot Club of Moline, IL put together tray favors for the American Legion to be used at the legion’s Vets Luncheon on Veteran’s Day. Moline Pilots did this last year as well and it was appreciated by all who came. On each favor, Moline Pilots placed a sticker reading: “The Pilot Club of Moline appreciates the veterans and their service.” Members of the Moline Club also walked and otherwise participated in the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk, hosting an informational booth with displays promoting Project Lifesaver and BrainMindersTM. At the booth, the BrainMindersTM puppets were a big hit with the children who were given crayons and coloring pages. The club also donated a basket of Fall and Halloween items for the Memory Walk’s Basket Raffle.
- West Central Illinois Pilot Club, IL collected household items, games and puzzles at the Midwest District Workshop to support Pathway group homes in Jacksonville, IL. They also collected 400 pairs of shoes from clubs in their district for the Shoeman Water Project in Kenya. The shoes are exported to retailers in Kenya to raise money to build desperately needed water wells there. In addition, West Central Pilots donated 30 homemade fleece “Linus Project” blankets to comfort children in a local hospital and at the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery.
- Cedar Rapids Metro Pilot Club, IA helped Dr. DeAnn Fitzgerald’s “Iowa Safari” fund raising event, a trolley tour to see and learn more about Iowa animals. The club continues its ongoing support of Dr. Fitzgerald’s foundation, which helps children in Africa and people in Eastern Iowa through her Vision in Motion Clinic. The clinic serves those who had had strokes, car crash survivors, Alzheimer’s patients, and others with brain injuries. Cedar Rapids Pilots also attended the Iowa City Pilot Club’s Fundraising Breakfast and made a great show of inter-club support by wearing their bright MidWest District t-shirts.
Bend of the River Pilot Club, IA assisted Moline Pilots who created tray favors for the Veteran’s Day Vets Luncheon, sponsored by the American Legion. Bend of the River Pilots also gave BrainMindersTM presentations.