Sunday, Dec. 14, was the 13th year that the Rockford Association of Clubs and the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association sponsored a Christmas party complete with individual presents for the residents of Milestone.
Lunch is served to approximately 150 residents, after which Santa makes a guest appearance to pass out the presents. Helen Foster and Dave Jacobson also donate their time and efforts to provide Christmas music throughout the day.
Volunteers from all the social clubs that belong to the Rockford Association of Clubs and members representing the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association work together to make this event possible. As an added bonus this year, several students from the Belvidere High School newspaper volunteered to assist with the party. The Harmony Singing Society graciously donates the use of the hall every year, and other clubs have collection bottles set up throughout the year to help fund the expenses.
The volunteers who worked to make this day a success were:
LLL Society: Scott Mishmash, Dave Corcoran, Jack Mann, Ron Lanquist, Brad Muzzarelli, Cliff Johnson, Helen Foster, Dave Jacobson, Dick Hobart (Santa), and Mark and Pat Lewis
SM&SF Club: Larry Gustafson and Mark Schwazlow.
Lyran Club: Gary Tubbesing, Fred Whitney and Frank Schier
Ellida Lodge: Ray Knutson
Baltic Lodge: Bill and Helen Whippler
Eagles Club: Gene Shelton
Illinois Licensed Beverage Association: Jim Colombi, Stanley Stroud, Mitch Summer, Terry Flosi and Bob Parvin
Belvidere High School Newspaper Students: Diane and Nicole Giamarese, Matt Liporata, Josh Skaar, Jesse Woolman, Jason Rusk, Lindsey Ramon, Merry and Karis Morrall, Ashley Rollins, Kyle Bears, Ashley Garlanger, Candy Ramirez and their faculty advisor Mike Doyle.
Also during the summer, Milestone residents are treated to a trip to the RiverHawks baseball game. Once again, volunteers from both these groups team together to sponsor the ball game and assist wherever they are needed that night.
Editors note: The charity work of the many fine social clubs in Rockford goes largely unheralded in the local media. Regardless, the clubs and the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association continue their good works. Hopefully, the media will take note in the future to encourage more to participate.
The residents of the Milestone facilities responded with joy to the efforts of the enthusiastic volunteers and superb Milestone staff. All those smiling faces conquered disabilities and brought everyone into the real meaning of Christmasgiving and love.
Staffer Tonia Phippen noted how the residents will also enjoy the upcoming Snowball Dance at the Moose Club. Call Milestone to help.
Staffer Monica Young said of the party at the Harmony Club and the interaction between the volunteers and the residents: I think this is really good because many of the individuals dont have visitors who can see them on a regular basis. It helps the volunteers to be exposed to this population, so the community can see it benefits the residents as well as the volunteers.
Most encouraging in this regard was the volunteers from the staff of the Belvidere High School newspaper, The Buccaneer. Many of the Milestone residents were the same age as these young journalists. Their natural interaction was graceful and touching.
Their teacher and faculty adviser Mike Doyle said of his second, third and fourth year students, Im really blessed with some high school students who were willing to give up their Sunday to help in whatever way they could. One of my kids 18th birthday was that day, so he gave up part of his birthday to help kids in need. I was also impressed with how they worked. I dont think they expected that, but they stepped up.
Everyone, including the media, can learn a lesson from these studentswhen you step up for those less fortunate, everyone is elevated.
To volunteer at Milestone, call Helen Pyfer at 966-8722. Merry Christmas! Frank Schier, editor and publisher.