The meeting started like many other civic group meetings: The president of the club rang a small bell to get everyone's attention and announced, "We call this meeting to order."
The crowd quickly got quiet and directed their attention to Cindy Bogart, the president of the Aktion Club at Hope Enterprises Inc. She is new to her elected position and is excited to serve her club and the community.
To begin the meeting, she directed everyone to rise and say the Pledge of Allegiance before addressing the agenda. Club members proudly stated the pledge with passion and sincerity beyond the typical routine.
The first announcement for the club included how much money was raised in their most recent fundraiser, followed by the presentation of donations to two local organizations.
The group erupted with enthusiastic applause and great joy when Cindy presented a check for $100 to Lycoming County United Way.
"It felt like a million dollar check," said Kate Pacacha on behalf of United Way. "The club members kept saying congratulations and thanking me for coming, when, in fact, I was there to thank them for their hard work in fundraising and choosing the United Way as one of the recipients for those hard earned dollars. They treated me like a rock star when they are the real celebrities."
"The mission of the Aktion Club is to provide adults living with disabilities the opportunity to develop initiative and leadership, serve their community, be integrated in to society, and demonstrate the dignity and value of citizens living with disabilities," said Dale Dunmore, co-adviser of the group since its inception. "Our core values are character building, leadership, inclusiveness and caring."
Kiwanis of Williamsport approached Hope Enterprises about starting an Aktion Club Chapter in 2006.
"Aktion Club is one of the service leadership programs that are sponsored by Kiwanis International, along with Circle K, Key Club, Builders Club and Kiwanis Kids. The Aktion Club was incorporated at Hope in June of 2006 with 35 members," said volunteer Mike Barclay. "We provide direction, serve as guest speakers, attend the monthly meetings, support the fundraisers and include the Aktion Club members in all Kiwanis activities."
Pedie McDonald was one of the "celebrities" at the meeting, and he was quick to make sure everyone around him was introduced to Kate either before or after the meeting.
"I like being in Aktion Club," Pedie told Kate. "We do fun projects and we get to help people."
Tina Beach, production manager at Hope and co-adviser of the club, asked for a show of hands how many of the members use company or public transportation to get to work at Hope and three-quarters of the group were quick to raise their hands.
"The club members wanted to show their appreciation for United Way's funding of Hope and demonstrate the importance of working together as partners," Tina said. "We all value the work of United Way and are happy to support the campaign."
As determined by community volunteers, Lycoming County United Way allocated $60,136 to Hope this year to be used for transportation. Many of the people who attend Hope use company transportation or ride the River Valley Transit bus, only a small percentage have private transportation.
Other topics for the meeting included a presentation lesson on animal rescue and then a discussion on the group's next two fundraisers - a fruit sale and the "adoption" of a local family in need to buy Christmas presents for.
"Hope's Aktion Club takes great pride in giving back to the community as a ways of saying 'thank you' for what they have received over the years," Dale added. "In the last four years, Aktion has raised and given back more than $3,000 to community groups."
"I like Aktion because I learn about different things," said club member Tim Steinbacher, who has attended Hope for 30 years. "We have meetings and we talk about who else we can help."
"It was a meeting I won't soon forget," Kate said.
"To see such genuine love for serving others was really heartwarming. The Aktion Club members are to be commended for their spirit and selflessness. We all could learn a lesson there," she added.
To learn more about Hope Enterprises, call 326-3745 or visit heionline.org.
To learn more about United Way or to help fund more than 40 human service programs like these, call 323-9448 or visit lcuw.org.