Hello Auxiliary Members-
November is a busy month for American Legion Auxiliary programs. Our members are planning projects for: Veteran’s Day (November 11th), American Education Week (November 12-16), Christmas Gift Shops, and Gifts to Yanks who gave to name a few. As you work on these projects remember- you are the American Legion Auxiliary brand! Wear your emblem, and explain who we are, what we do, and why it matters. Most importantly remember that being the American Legion Auxiliary brand is not just a visual image of our emblem; it is the way your words, actions and behaviors make people feel. Please keep this in mind when you are doing ALA work, if we enter our meetings and projects with clear individual intentions to be kind, respectful, and open to new ideas we will have better successes and strengthen our Units, Districts, Divisions, and ultimate-ly our entire Department. We are leading our organization into our second century and it is our obligation to preserve and conserve it!
What is your Unit doing to remember our Heroes for Veteran’s Day? Honoring our eligibility is one of the most important ideals of the American Legion Auxiliary. I hope every member of our organization sets aside time for reflection of the sacrifice of our service mem-bers this time of year. As we also celebrate Thanksgiving and reflect on our gratitude, it is a great time to give back to those in our community who are less fortunate. Whether you are making mats for homeless veterans, serving a meal at your local shelter, having a social event at your local Veteran’s Home or VA Hospital, you are making a difference and improving lives around you. Remember to report your year to date projects to Department Chairman by De-cember 1st, they need to include these in mid-year reports.
Have you begun thinking about nominating a Unit member for the Goodwill Ambassa-dor Award? This is a new initiative from National to recognize members who embody the spirit of goodwill for our organization and fellow members at the grassroots level. Units can find the nomination form, rules and judging rubric on the Department website. Nominations will be judged by each District and then at the Department level. All District nominees will be honored at the Past President’s Parley/Gold Star Dinner at Department Convention with the Depart-ment Nominee included in our head table guests.
In closing, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! As you celebrate this month hold close these words from Theodore Roosevelt; “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips and shows itself in deeds.”
“Respect, Preserve, Conserve”
Debra Lewis is a 42-year member of the Craig-Reed Unit 1181 in Cisco. She has eligibility through her Grandfather, Michael Vannote, who served in the Navy and Air Force. Her passion for the American Legion Auxiliary started through her participation in the Junior program under the loving encouragement and mentorship of her grandmother, JoAnn Shafer.
Deb is active in her Unit where she continues to serve as President. She served as District President in 2011-2012 and has held multiple district chairmanships and served as Chaplain, Historian and Vice President. Deb has served as Division chairman for Legislative, National Security, Illini Girls State, Leadership and Community Service programs. On the Department level she has served as Illini Girls State Dean of Education, Director of Illini Girls State, Americanism Chairman, Historian, National Security Chairman, and Legislative Chairman.
Deb’s other interests include working with animals and children. She is a supervisor for youth with emotional and behavioral disorders in residential treatment at Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana. Deb is alumni of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a Masters Degree in Animal Sciences and is in the process of completing a Masters Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Leadership and Social Change. She adores spending time with nieces; AudreyAnn, Rachael and Lauren, who are Junior members of the ALA, and many pets including dogs Taz and Joey and ninja-assassin cat Ty.