Welcome to the Illinois ALA Zoo where we aim to
“Respect, Conserve, and Preserve”. Each Division is a different habitat in our zoo and each District is a different animal found living in that habitat. It is important to remember every living thing in the environment contributes to the healthy functioning of that ecosystem. If you remove even what appears to be the smallest creature from an ecosystem the impact on the other animals in the ecosystem will be critical. We should think of our Units like an ecosystem; with each member contributing in her own unique way. We must work together in our mission of serving Veterans, their families and our communities for our individual Units to thrive and grow.
Since Installation I have hit the ground running! I’ve attended the SAL Detachment
Convention and Installation, Division and District Installations, and the 8/40 Departmental Convention and Installation. It has been an honor to bring greetings on behalf of every member of
the Department of Illinois at these events. Veteran’s Day at the State Fair was a wonderful day filled with love and respect for all Veterans in Illinois. The highlight for me was the Gold Star
memorial service; the mother of a service member killed in action during the war on terror
spoke and was truly inspiring. If you have never been to the ceremonies, plan to attend next
year, it is a great way to support veterans.
August 3rd and 4th were busy days for the Department of Illinois, we held the Fall
Board Meeting and Summer Workshop. Chairman; great job educating us all on the plans for our programs. Thanks to everyone who attended to learn about where our mission will take us this year. Special thanks to Angie Mulligan, Pam Ray, Karen Boughan, and Patti Williamson for presenting during the Summer Workshop. Please remember to share the information from these meetings with your Division, District and Unit members unable to attend. A highlight of the board meeting was a visit from Dana Engle, Executive Director of Bright Star Equestrian Center in Petersburg, Il. Bright Star provides equine groundwork and riding therapy to Veterans and children with special needs free of charge. They have been selected as the recipient of the President’s Special Project this year. A link to information about their program will be included on the Department Website.
In a few days, many of us will be heading to Minneapolis for the 98th American Legion
Auxiliary National Convention. We will celebrate our many Olympic achievements and learn
more about the activities our Illinois ALA Zoo can use to enrich our zoo animals. Delegates and
other attendees, please be sure to report back to your local members about the proceedings.
There is so much useful information shared at National Convention, we need to digest and
include these ideas into our day to day Auxiliary work.
Again this year, we will be presenting six Fall Forums throughout the state to help distribute information and helpful tips to mem-bers. The dates and locations are included in this ALA Today. We hope to make this day hands on and useful to you by addressing common challenges Units are facing. If you have specific issues you would like some help with, email me and we will work to in-clude it in our topics.
If you have projects coming up that you need help with, let me know. I love to roll up my sleeves and do mission work. Let’s work together and have fun! In closing, as we begin the 2019 year, remember our mission comes back to respect, goodwill and service. Ultimately, in the words of A.A. Milne from Winnie the Pooh, “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference”.
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.