Helping Hands – Volunteering in Today’s World

Over the years I’ve been involved in a number of not-for-profit organizations.  Rotary, Lions Club, Job’s Daughters, Scouting, musical organizations, political organizations, and a rock club (I’m sure there are more but they don’t currently come to mind).  Over time, they all come down to some type of political/power struggle.  I volunteer to do something, and later on wonder what was I thinking?

I was thinking I want to help.  I want to assist their progress in some way.  I want to see them succeed. How can I help?  With my take-charge personality I end up the chairman, the president, the leader.  I find myself pulling away from those decisions more and more.  Would I be Secretary of the Rock Club. No thanks.  How about the Membership Coordinator? Grant Writer? Publicity Chairperson?  NO, NO and NO.   I’ll help where I can, but I don’t want the board meetings, the distraction to creating, the politics.

So how can I help?

I’ve been knitting for years.  As my little sign says, “knitting keeps me from unraveling”.  I can create something useful and keep hands busy.  I’m a much nicer passenger when I knit and don’t watch Tracy drive.  I’ve gifted hundreds of blankets over the years both knit and crochet.  I’ve taught both my youngest daughter and grand-daughter how to knit and they also have “busy hands”.  So what do we do with all that stuff?

When we had our art/gift gallery we sold well over 100 scarves to travelers looking for something useful to offer that would remind them of their trip.  Grandmothers love the scarves as gifts for grandkids.  And some locals bought them on a regular basis as gifts and for their own families. But now that the store is closed what happens to them?

One day on Facebook an ad showed up for an organization called “Operation Gratitude”. They provide “Care Boxes” for our active military, veterans, first responders, and wounded warriors.  They take only scarves made of acrylic fibers – check;  4-6” wide – check; in masculine colors – check.  If you go to their website you can download their donation form to see all the other ways you can help.  They recently had a “service day” at their base of operation in California and created 3,000 “care boxes” for the first responders in Dallas.  This is an organization I want to give to.

I’ve put together a box of scarves with the labels as requested and will send them off this next week.  They also ask for letters to the care box recipients.  It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what to say, and how I might help take their mind off where they are.  I wrote a letter using pictures from our previous time in the heart of the Grand Staircare Escalante National Monument.  I hope it will give them something else to think about.

It also reminded me to add their service as volunteers to my gratitude journal.  I’m grateful they believe our freedoms are worth fighting for. My grandmother, mother, father, and 1st husband all volunteered for the Marine Corps.  They each had their own reason for that service, and each contributed in a unique way.  They wanted to help in some way.  I guess it’s in my blood.

Until next time – – –

 

Millennials – Story of Supply and Demand

Millennials are beginning to get the blame for everything in our world that is changing. Whether it’s god or bad, it’s their fault. Change – isn’t that a four letter word?

Sales of cereal are down over 30%, so it’s the millennials fault. That’s according to a recent blog report I read. They’re too lazy to put cereal in the bowl and eat it. The post didn’t take into account that over 70% of the cereal available is sugar coated garbage and they won’t eat it or buy it for their children to eat. They want whole grains and natural sweeteners, that’s the demand.

Another journalist reported that Bernie Sanders didn’t do well in some states because the millennials didn’t vote. Perhaps they weren’t socialists and chose to not vote at all? Again, no demand.

When I tried to by jelly beans for an Eater Basket there was only one choice. 90% of all the offerings for sale were chocolate covered or filled somethings. That must be the demand because small manufactures supply what people demand.

That leads me to Trump vs. Clinton. What the media and GOP old-timers want is someone other than Trump. They’re trying to create demand for someone else, because they don’t want him as President. But the people re demanding something else. The millennials want an outsider that doesn’t represent Wall Street or Washington D.C.

Yet here’s Mrs. Clinton. As crooked as the Clinton’s are, the demand for the social programs they support is greater than honesty. If Trump wants to win he’s going to have to create a path for safe removal from social programs not punitive solutions. The demand for big brother taking care of them won’t go away and without educating the on where the money comes from and where it needs to go is where the demand should be. Otherwise we can continue to supply their demands for socialism without the label.

Until next time – – –

3 Reasons Towns Die

Consistency – Reliability – Fairness

These are the cornerstones of a three-legged stool that constituents look to government to uphold on a daily basis.  They count on fairness to every member of the community no matter their religion, age, or family connections.  They rely on their knowledge of government and how it works that it will be reliable every day.  They depend on consistency in order to establish their own lives.  In turn they agree to abide by the rules and laws of the place they live.

Government has failed to provide all three pegs of that stool and thus citizenry are reacting.

They are moving out of towns and cities that don’t balance the stool to places that do.  And if they can’t move because of age or finances, they are demanding changes be made to once again balance government and the elected officials seem to have no clue how to fix it.

In our own town of Escalante, Utah, the stool is totally out of balance and the town council and mayor, for whatever reason, haven’t righted the stool.

First, the county school district is concerned about the declining enrollment of the schools.  Long-time residents look to blame the creation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument for the decline in the communities.  Yes, it has impacted the cattle grazing and logging and that has resulted in several cattle raising families moving to places where they are welcome.  And yes, the sawmill has closed and all those family wage jobs have gone away, and the children they supported. But that’s just one leg of the stool.

Second, the federal agencies that promote tourism are providing some jobs that could help replace the others, but they can’t replace them all and tourism based jobs are not family wage.  The same employee that worked at the sawmill now has two jobs to replace the one at the sawmill.  In addition, Payment In Leiu of Taxes (PILT) has not been increased in many years.  The town is expected to provide emergency services, water, sewer, trash without the federal government paying their fair share of the costs.  The county Sheriff is now the only  response to 911 since the city police position was removed due to finances. The lack of reliable funding for services puts the total burden on the property owners.

Third, city and county ordinances are not enforced with any consistency leaving people to conclude they don’t wish to move here until they are.  Case in point, the City of Escalante uses the State’s abandoned road facility and the state offers little or no incentive to keep it updated and in good repair.  When the wind storms of last summer took out one of the sheds the debris from was removed and the fences repaired by the state.  However, the contents of the building remain on the ground (pipe parts, old buckets, etc) to this day. The weeds are now growing up amongst them and the highway frontage lot does not say “we care about our City”.  If you drive the streets, there is no enforcement of a number of ordinances and vacant houses “For Sale”  might sell but the neighborhood is in such disrepair it reminds a lot of them of what they’re trying to escape from not a lush, small town where everyone works together.  And the disproportionate number of absentee owners because of “Holiday Home Rentals” is removing the “home town” flavor because of City Government.

The stool needs righting and placing blame elsewhere is not the answer.  The answer is here in our National Historic District Town of 750. Demand the city, county, state and federal government agencies rebalance the stool.  How?

  1. The Federal resource management agencies need to pay their fair share for upkeep and management of facilities their visitors use without cost. Fairness.
  2. The State highway department needs to find a way to transfer management of the old highway dept. facility to the city or enter into an agreement to allow the city to make proposed improvements and help pay for them. Reliability.
  3. The City needs to place a limit on the number of Holiday Homes as a percentage of the total number of homes available in the city. And they need to enforce the building codes, and other ordinances on a regular basis with the same answers for all. Consistency.

It wouldn’t solve all the problems, but it would get this small town well (and many others of all sizes) on its way to re-balancing the three-legged stool.

Until next time – – – – –

Learning To Say No!

11 years as a Congressional Field Representative taught me a very valuable life lesson – How to say No!

Constituents wanted a speaker, a ribbon cutter, a grant writer, coach, project coordinator, and problem solver. And why not the Congressman’s aide? During those eleven years I helped individuals and groups, cities, counties and special districts with every conceivable problem. We built bridges, found a bridge to buy, dedicated wildlife refuges, saved U.S. Coast Guard Services, got special funding for docks, ports, dams, and parks. Each project had one specific characteristic – it matched the Congressman’s goals.

During those eleven years I read a number of excellent books on management, leadership, and time management. I don’t remember which one had the magic phrase for me, but it’s stuck after all these years. When someone calls, writes, or drops by and has a request for some use of your time go ahead and use the phrase I’ll have to check my schedule, but instead check your goals.

Does the event, project, time, speech, etc. further your goals, and in that case it was the goals of the Congressman? When the answer was yes I took the project on personally. If it didn’t I found someone or agency to help them meet their goal. It wasn’t so much that I needed to help them, just getting them help when they had no idea where to turn was the answer.

This week’s theme is “Don’t be afraid to say no”. The power of establishing boundaries is critical to everyone’s well being. Don’t let people talk you into doing things you don’t really want to do. Conversely, when you take on a project to help others, don’t let them down. Put all your energy into helping them achieve their goal. You’ll find your time is better spent and you won’t feel guilty because you learned to say no.

T-Mobile – Please Port My Phone

After many calls, emails, and letters, I think I understand why T-Mobile won’t agree to port my phone number, even though Congress says it shall and the small phone company who has the number can’t refuse and doesn’t have an exemption.

Problem: I live in a remote section of southern Utah where cell service is all roaming and T-Mobile does not have a porting agreement with the local carrier. Why? Because we are not in their service area. Okay, but you provide me and others in town with cell service. In fact, it’s the most reliable of all the carriers.

Solution: I need T-Mobile to initiate a porting agreement with South Central Communications in Escalante, Utah.

Background: South Central Communications used to provide cell service but shut down their system and sold their tower in 2012. This co-op based company is “locally owned and operated” but forgot what local meant when they shut off the tower.

When they quit providing cell service they told us they “sold that portion of the company to Verizon”, then it was they recommended you transfer your cell service to Verizon. However, Verizon could not provide the same level of service because they wouldn’t buy the tower and couldn’t provide the service. After they got us roped into expensive agreements you could not rely on having phone service, including our Ambulance/EMT providers.

I filed an FCC complaint requesting Verizon let us out of our contracts without buyouts and we’d find another way to solve our phone needs. They argued with us until I finally asked the man from corporate to log on to their own website and click on the page that allows potential customers to get service and put in our zip code of 84726. What did it tell you? Sorry, we don’t provide service in your area. No duh, nor does anyone else, because of the tower issue, we’re all on roaming. We understand that, so a large number of us went back to landlines.

We’ve closed our brick and mortar retail operation and gone mobile but I can’t take my phone with me. T-Mobile will not port my business phone from South Central because there is no agreement. The suggested resolution from South Central Staff – get a number with Verizon and port it there and then port it to T-Mobile. Sorry, that still won’t solve the problem.

South Central Dir of Sales and Service told me it is not in their best interest to port numbers and won’t without an agreement but it’s T-Mobile’s responsibility to initiate an agreement. The staff in the Number Transfer Center at T-Mobile slipped and told me I’m not in their service area so they don’t have an agreement, but South Central must release the line.