2020 started with the AMLA’s 110 Initiative—Members were encouraged to perform 110 acts of benevolence in honor of the AMLA’s 110th Anniversary. These acts of service to our community are a part of the AMLA mission and an important part of what makes AMLA Membership special. With the onset of COVID19, it seemed that such an initiative would fizzle and fall flat. However, AMLA Members rose to the challenge, and carried out numerous acts to help those in need!
AMLA Lodges made charitable donations to organizations to help their missions. These included (but were not limited to) multiple donations to Providence House, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, St. Joseph House, and The Slovene Home for the Aged.
While many organizations curtailed volunteer opportunities due to the pandemic, AMLA Members found ways to volunteer to distribute meals to the elderly, hand-make masks, make no-stitch blankets, make knit afghans, assemble exercise kits for isolated seniors, and provide these to the AMLA and other organizations for distribution. Lodges organized activities for children to get involved themselves by assembling care packages, snack packs, and “thinking of you” packs for those who might be isolated by the pandemic.
Why is the 110 Initiative so important? When we recount the lives of AMLA Members who have passed on, we are often amazed by the manner in which they served the greater good. They were often active in organizations beyond that of the AMLA, and served in ways that are unique and amazing. In most cases, these people did their work out of the spotlight and avoiding recognition. Their motive was simply to do good for the sake of doing good, not for self-adulation.
This selflessness is admirable, but has a flaw: if no one knows the extent to which someone serves, how does this inspire others to serve? So, a secondary goal with he 110 Initiative was to encourage those who serve to share their service with others. Not for the sake of personal glory, but to teach the value of service to the community, and to share the warmth that comes with serving other Members.
It is difficult to say exactly how many acts of benevolence were performed by AMLA Members for the 110 Initiative. Not to imply that there were not enough to reach the goal. Instead, it is difficult to assign value to each (a rather unexpected, positive side effect of this project). For example, when a Member knits a baby blanket, we could easily count that as a single act, but when she knits three or four, should there not be more credit given? When three Members were coincidentally able to help a UPS truck dig out of the snow, we wonder if this should count; but when Members gather to play music outside for the elderly isolated inside a nursing facility, surely we must count that. Or, when a donation is made to help an organization carry out its charitable mission, we see it as a valuable act. When additional money is given because 2020 is such a difficult year, is that a second act, or more of the first?
In the end, assigning value to acts carried out be different Members and Lodges is not the important part of this. Whether we reached 110 acts or 210 acts does not determine the success of the project (my hunch is that we far exceeded the 110 goal regardless of how we count). The success is determined by the number of people who made the effort to think of others despite all that 2020 had to offer.
So, here we take a moment to acknowledge the amazing efforts of Members throughout the AMLA. From donations to volunteering, from simple to complex, acts of benevolence poured out of our fellow Members’ hearts. It was amazing!
What is even better is knowing that being a Member of the AMLA has helped to make some of these acts possible. If you were not able to participate part first-hand, your Membership made you a participant none the less. Let’s take a moment to relish in the achievement, then continue doing good—even if no one is counting!