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"Women’s Month"

There is an official Women’s History Month. Did you know that? Yep, it is coming up in March and it is a big deal. In the United States it can trace it beginnings back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911. Now it is celebrated in March in the USA, United Kingdom, and Australia. It is still relatively new. In February 1980 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8, 1980 as Women’s History Week. He was the first to give it a national spotlight. In 1987 the entire month of March was declared National Women’s History Month and the celebration has grown in size and influence ever since.

The original purpose was to highlight the achievements and impact of women in history. Even as late as the early 80’s no more than 3% of history texts were devoted to women. Clearly women’s roles in history were greater than their representation in our history books.

Each year a theme is chosen and for 2016 it is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” There are women right here in Van Wert and throughout Ohio that work in public service and government who are making our lives better and easier right now. Of course, tomorrow’s history is being acted out today. Perhaps something that one of you do today or something that a woman whom we know does today will be recorded in the history of tomorrow.

On a broader level this is an opportunity for us to honor women in our own lives as they are making history that will probably never be in a textbook. There are many women who make significant contributions here at StateWide Ford Lincoln and the StateWide companies. Here is a list of them and their titles or areas of responsibility.

  • Cindy Grubaugh - Office Manager
  • Jill Wood - Internet Manager
  • Tracy Bishop - Manager Easy Auto Credit
  • Denise Davis - Service Advisor
  • Amelia Wiseman - Collision Estimator
  • Natasha Moon - Fleet Sales
  • Patty Kinzie - Payables
  • Tina Waltmire - Inventory Clerk
  • Kayla Allen Quick Lane Service Advisor
  • Kendra Kauser - Fleet Office Manager
  • Cassie Martinez - Detail
  • Tabbetha Dixon - Detail Superior Collision
  • Makenzie Bowen - Fleet Office
  • Alyssa Bowen - Fleet Shop
  • Tina Eley - Easy Auto Credit

Women make up 50.4% of the U.S. population. Of the 123 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 72 million, or 58.6 percent, were labor force participants, which means working or looking for work. Women comprise 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force. Additionally, women are projected to account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018. Women in the labor pool are quite an important group. Are you making use of one of our county’s greatest resources?

The employees listed above are integral members of the StateWide team and provide many important functions. No doubt our customers have many interactions with them and are quite aware of how these women make the entire StateWide experience smoother and better for our customers. Our team could not exist without these incredibly talented women in positions of authority and making major contributions to our businesses.


"Welcome 2016"

Just a few days ago we said goodbye to 2015. People have been posting all over social media about the wonderful year they had with pictures, accomplishments, and brag-lists. The TV news ran all the usual year-end review segments. Even Barbara Walters did her "10 Most Fascinating People of 2015" show. It has been sliced and diced, analyzed and criticized. It was a good year for most. Now it is time to look forward. Welcome 2016! Here’s what we know and what we might hope for.

  1. The economy continues to build steadily. We do not have a booming economy, but that’s probably okay. The boom times of the past couple decades have inevitably led to pretty serious downturns. Steady improvement is a very good thing. Interest rates have edged up slightly recently and even that isn’t all bad. Reasonable interest rates indicate a healthy economy.
  2. Our County and City are striving to form a Joint Economic Development team. The coordination of the two major local governing bodies for the betterment of our community is long overdue. It is an accepted Best Practice throughout the nation and it is now closer than ever. There would be a single point of contact overseen by the private sector with government representation.
  3. After more than 30 years at the helm of Van Wert County Hospital Mark Minick is retiring. The progress during Mark’s tenure has included Emergency Department improvements and performance excellence, successes in recruitment and investment, and exceptional leadership. Expect a capable and dynamic new leader to take over and continue Mark Minick’s legacy.
  4. The Van Wert Business Development Center, the organization that developed both industrial parks, continues to work quietly behind the scenes. With a successful capital campaign in the rear view mirror, they will renew their efforts to work with all entities to foster growth and successes for our community.
  5. The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce has much to be proud of. Membership is up, financial performance is greatly improved from a few short years ago, and this business led organization plays a vital role in the progress of our community.
  6. Another engine that drives Van Wert’s success since 1925 is the Van Wert County Foundation. From grants and scholarships to one of the biggest supporter of the arts in Northwest Ohio, this organization plays many positive roles in our community.

Those are just some of the things that are public and organized that will help us all have a successful 2016. Individually each of us can do our best and work our hardest to improve the lives of our families and loved ones. Many people I know learned to live within their means when times weren’t so good. Combining that frugality with better times, more hours on the job, a new position or a new career, and sensible budgeting will make for an easier life and a brighter future. When we all work toward those things the sum total drives our local, state, and national economies to steady growth and better times.

Welcome 2016, indeed! I’m optimistic! How about you?


"Month #12: People"

For those of you who are new to reading this article I write each month, I say WELCOME. I also need to tell you about the series that I have been involved in over this year. It started with November of last year. You know, The Month of Thanksgiving. I queried, "Why do we save our thankfulness for that one month that includes Thanksgiving Day?" I have heard about people who do a month of Thanksgiving in which they pick a different thing to be thankful for each day of the month of November. Yikes! That is thirty things in thirty days. Most start out strong and then start to waver in the second or third week. It is hard to do! So, I set for myself the goal of being thankful each month for something and to write about it here. A Year of Thanksgiving!

If you’ve followed along you know that I have varied things I am thankful for. Being thankful for a person or people in my life came up every few months. I guess that’s the lesson I learned, even though I think I already knew it. Sure, we’re all thankful for ice cream and prosperity, but those are material things. People are what we are most thankful for. And so here in this twelfth month at the end of the series I want to itemize what I am most thankful for and it is all people. Excuse me if there are a few repeats from earlier months.

In order of appearance in my life:

Johnny & Janet Czajkowski

My mother & Father for not only instilling in me the belief that I could be anything I wanted to be, but to aspire to be the best at whatever I chose. (at age four, I wanted to be the garbage man who compacted the trash. Hey, he got to push the button!)

Ernie & Eva Rickman

My maternal Grandparents

My Grandpa even under the toughest of exteriors was a passionate family man who worked hard to support his family and share life’s lessons. My Grandma, for the love and affection she had for her family, her church and her friends. As I young child, I would always ask him "what are you doing Grandpa?" and his standard answer was always "Milking a duck" whether he was mowing the lawn, painting the house or making me breakfast because Gramma was sleeping in. I use the same line on my daughter today.

Jim Shaw, 7th & 8th Grade English Teacher

Malow Junior High, Utica, Michigan

Mr. Shaw challenged young students to think on their own, to write with clarity and engage in thought provoking conversation. For a 7th grader to talk about State of the Union speeches, euthanasia, or Bachman Turner & Overdrive, a young progressive teacher who impacted 1000’s of lives in a positive way. He always referred to me as AnDREW, with emphasis on the DREW. His line, that I still use when greeting people today, was, "Gentlemen! And I use the term loosely."

Clem Young, Owner

Young’s Garden Mart, Warren Michigan

When I was fourteen, Mr. Young was my first employer. What an experience! I pulled weeds, I swept up, I helped customers, I planted seeds that turned into thousands of flats of petunias, marigolds, and begonias. I learned to drive a forklift, a front-end loader, a pickup truck. I assembled lawn mowers, snow blowers, and roto tillers. I helped when they erected a "Coal Frame" greenhouse. I learned how to make "clean" dirt, tuned up lawn mowers, and ran galvanized pipe from the boilers to the greenhouses. I will always remember telling Mr. Young that a customer in the lawn mower section needed help with purchasing a mower. Mr. Young said "Andy, you probably know more about those mowers than I do. Go sell him one" My reply was "But what if he asks me a question and I don’t know the answer?" "Andy, if you can’t dazzle him with your brilliance, you baffle him with your bullshit" I sold him the mower, and never looked back.

Don Warnock

Warnock Automotive, East Hanover, NJ

At 20, Don gave me my start in the automobile business. I started selling Dodge’s in 1982 when the prime rate was as high as 20% and Chrysler was flirting with bankruptcy. I received an advanced degree from Warnock University over the next 11 years. At each step of my journey Don gave me more responsibility. It was an expensive education but in retrospect it was worth it. It laid the groundwork for our move to Ohio and the dream of owning a dealership. With Don, everything was "Super, Handsome. Send it in!"

Mary & Alex Czajkowski

Words are difficult to come by for my wife and daughter. Let me just say, they are always protective of me, always looking out for my best interest, and always willing to go into battle to defend me. They were there for me during my battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. At any time while undergoing treatment Mary would remind me of the line in The Shawshank Redemption that Red uses "You’ve got to get busy living, or get busy dying" I would have traded anything but them for the opportunity to live.

Dr. Mark Kaminski, Director

Lymphoma Program at University of Michigan

Diagnosed in 1994 with NHL, average life expectancy 7 years from time of diagnosis, I first met Dr. K. in 1997. He and his clinical partner, Dr. Rich Wahl, held the patent on a Radio Labeled Isotope conjugated to a mouse anti-body. The drug would become known as Bexxar and I received it during a clinical trial that year. During the depth of my disease, at any time I was depressed about my situation, seeing Dr. Kaminski and receiving therapy (mental as well as Chemo) always lifted my spirits. Always willing to answer any and all questions, a gentle man with a gentle soul, if you were to dream of the perfect doctor to be your partner in this fight, he is the guy you would want on your side. I owe my life to this man, and will be eternally grateful.

I am thankful for all of my associates, the team members of Statewide Ford Lincoln, Superior Collision, Easy Auto Credit, Quick Lane Tire & Auto, and Statewide Emergency Products. The Van Wert Hospital, the Van Wert Rotary, the Van Wert United Way, the Van Wert Business Development Center, the Van Wert County Foundation, and the NPAC. To my friend and business partner Al Matarese, to our customers, to the rest of my family and friends, I could not have done this without your help in some manner. I am thankful for the role each and every one of you has played in my journey. I look forward to the rest of journey and relish each and every day.

So, there you have it! Twelve Months of Thanksgiving! This is the last one, so I might have run over my normal length. If you’ve been playing along, you know how rewarding it can be. It has made me realize what a lucky man I am. If you haven’t been playing along, give it a try. And next month is the real month of Thanksgiving just in the nick of time.


"Month #11: Together"

I sit here on Labor Day 2015 writing my thoughts about what I am thankful for and how can I not be thankful for the laborers that make up this great nation. Historically, of course, but even in the present our lives would be drastically different if it wasn’t for all those who get up each day and clock in and clock out to keep the world’s greatest economy going.

Labor Day! A holiday that as a child I never really understood beyond it being the end of summer, a three-day weekend, and the start of school. I always had mixed feelings about it. As an adult I’ve learned to understand its importance and, I gotta say, I am thankful for it.

Though not very popular these days, if evidenced only by declining membership, Labor Unions had a tremendous positive influence on the incomes, safety, and status of millions of Americans. My grandfather worked at Chrysler in Detroit at the beginning of the Union movement and his rise to the middle class was directly attributable to it. That led to greater opportunities for my parents and eventually for me. It showed us that hard work could pay off and improving one’s station and status in life was not only for the privileged.

I believe there are lessons about teamwork to be learned from unions. How can we work together to achieve mutual goals? By together I mean two things. If there are opposing views on any subject, the opposing parties have to get together and find common ground. Creating an atmosphere of distrust and loathing will never accomplish anything. Finding that common ground and compromising to reach agreements is the only way we’ll get close to our individual goals. Each side may need to give up something to get something. It is not likely that each side will get everything they want, so getting to shared objectives has got to be the goal.

And there are plenty of things we need to negotiate win-win deals on. We (all of us) need to fix our health care system. We need to have smart but realistic goals for banking oversight. We need to protect our environment while being allowed to utilize our natural resources. And regulation of all industries in general needs to accomplish good for the masses, but not stunt growth or be onerous.

There is a lot of work to do and we have to do it together. The second "together" is what unions do. They organize people (workers) into groups (unions) to have the strength of numbers and to speak as one voice. That is what we need to do. Those of us who feel a similar way about issues or objectives need to organize as a club, church, not-for-profit entity, political party, or just a group of concerned citizens. As one voice speaking for hundreds or thousands we can then have more influence over the discussion and get more of what we want in the quest for mutual goals, common ground, and shared objectives.

No one will get everything they want. We will need to meet somewhere in the middle to make our country great. Together.

So, for month #11 on this Labor Day 2015 I am thankful for Labor Day, all the workers across our nation, and for the lessons Labor Unions teach us and the opportunities they afford their members.


"Month #10: My Favorite Things"

I am not a huge musical theater guy, but from time to time I appreciate and take note of a really good production. As many of you are aware this year is the 50th Anniversary of the release of the movie, "The Sound of Music." Arguably, it is the most beloved musical of all time. It is sweet and redeeming, has marvelous scenery, features Julie Andrews at her peak, has the ultimate villains (Nazis), it turns out well in the end, and it is based on a true story. Amazing! And it is told with music of engaging melodies by Richard Rogers and clever lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein.

What does that all have to do with Ohio in the second decade of the 21st century and my quest to fill a year with twelve months of thanksgiving? "My Favorite Things." The title of the song that the character Maria sings is what I am thankful for this August. If you recall, she sang to the children who were afraid of a thunderstorm in the middle of the night about her favorite things and how the thought of them made her feel better when faced with challenges, "…I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad." Maria’s favorite things included "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, Brown paper packages tied up with string…." and so on.

Certainly Maria’s list of favorite things was rather silly, but that is not the point. The point is we all have a list of favorite things and it is part of what gets us through the day. For me the list is very appropriate for the month of August and it probably changes throughout the year with the seasons. Add "My Favorite Things" to the list of things I am thankful for. Summertime! Especially here in NW Ohio it is a time filled with fresh, ripe local produce, busy schedules, plenty of daylight, and lots of fun activities. Hot Dogs! Yes, the much maligned tube-steak is one of my favorite things. Load it up with all the fixins you like and enjoy the All-American summertime food. Baseball! Talk about All-American! It doesn’t get any All-American than baseball. My team is the Tigers and, though several games out of first place, they are in the middle of the pack for the American League Central Division. There’s still time left, but as much as we all love a champion the real pleasure is in the game and watching the boys of summer. Vacation! We are not like some countries that take off the entire month of August, but it is still the most common vacation month in America. And, oh, isn’t it a pleasure to take a vacation, unplug, and get away from the hub-bub of the 24/7 connectedness of the modern workplace. Swimming! Cool, wet, weightless fun with people you like hanging out with. Swimming circles back to Summertime, no doubt, as they go hand in hand. Barbecues, Wine, and Ice Cream! I am going to group those together because they’re all so tasty and represent three of the four major food groups. To quote people smarter than I am,

  • "I’m a man. Men cook outside… That’s the way it is and always has been…" – William Geist
  • "Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." – Benjamin Franklin
  • "I hope your only rocky road is chocolate." – Amanda Mosher

So, for month #10 I am thankful for the "My Favorite Things." I suppose my list is silly, too, but "The Sound of Music" has got nothin’ on me. Think about your list of favorite things. Makes you smile, right? I bet it makes you thankful, too. I guess Rogers & Hammerstein had it right.


"Month #7: Ultimate Sacrifice"

"Ultimate" . . . it is the most superlative of superlatives, right? I mean what could be more of anything than ultimate. For that very reason, the word should rarely be used to describe something. And when it is used we should view it with skepticism in an attempt to decide if the thing is worthy of the meaning.

Webster’s Dictionary defines ultimate as EXTREME or UTMOST. These are words that we toss around with little regard for their actual meaning. Overused and perhaps somewhat diminished because of it, the word ultimate has a particular meaning this month that is perfectly appropriate. You see, May is the month we celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day is the day set aside to remember and honor those who have died in service to our nation. The men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedoms and American way of life. Certainly, ultimate is used most correctly here.

Sure it is a special day on which we get out of work and don’t have to go to school. It is the day that has to come to represent the unofficial start of summer. It is a holiday whose meaning has become tangled up with other holidays like Veterans Day and maybe even Flag Day, as they are both rather patriotic, too. Veterans Day is important but it celebrates all Veterans, living and dead, for their service to country. Memorial Day is about those who gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, in service to country.

And so I am thankful, so very thankful for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice down through the centuries. Every life was precious and was a brother, daughter, friend, mother, and/or even a grandparent to someone. Over 1.1 million U.S. men and women have given their lives in the nation’s wars. That is a lot of ultimate sacrifices. Though we will observe their selfless gift to our nation on Memorial Day, we should be thankful for every one of them every day of the year.

In our country the first Memorial Day was held three years after the Civil War. An organization of Union veterans decided to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and declared that May 30 should be known as Decoration Day. The date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom across the entire country by May 30. It developed over the years to include Confederate fallen soldiers and then finally those from all wars who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It also evolved from Decoration Day to the broader, more inclusive Memorial Day.

Special services to honor those who die in war can be found in ancient history, as well. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago when he said: "Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men."

So, for month #7 I am thankful for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Intentional thankfulness for twelve months. A year of thanks. Have you joined the gratitude gang, yet? "How Thankful Are You?"


Month #6: "Twenty-Five Years!"

I looked at the calendar at the start of the month and it hit me that almost everything that is notable, nearly everything that is worth celebrating, and, yes, just about everything there is to be thankful for are on the calendar! I know your first inclination is to ponder what’s in the month of April and all you can picture is Tax Day. Now, you’re thinking I am going to say I am thankful that I have the honor of paying taxes and how that privilege helps fund this great nation of ours, blah, blah, blah… No, that is one I am not thankful for. However, my April holds several other special days.

This month my daughter is celebrating her 22nd Birthday. Anyone who knows me knows what a proud Father I am. Oh, I am not saying that every moment has been perfect over the last 22 years, but in so many ways every moment has been special and rewarding. And with each passing year it just seems to get better. So, to my 22-year old daughter I say Happy Birthday. I am so very thankful for you and all that you bring to the world. I love you more with each passing year. Thank you.

April has another day in it that I am very thankful for. The 25th Anniversary of my wedding day is in April. It has been two and a half decades filled with joys and sorrows and challenges and successes and it was all made better because we were together. The lows were not as bad as they could have been and the highs were best they could have possibly been because we were married. I am thankful for my wife and our 25 years of married life together.

We are all healthy. We are all happy. We are all blessed to live in this community in this wonderful country where we are free to speak our mind, worship when and where we’d like, and have control over our own lives.

So, for month #6 I am thankful for my daughter and my wife. Thank you both for filling my life with love, laughter, and meaning.

Halfway through the year of thanksgiving. I was not really sure, if I’d have enough subjects to fill 12-months, but now I’m feeling pretty good about it after my calendar discovery. If something does not come to mind, all I have to do is look at the calendar. How about you? Going to take a sneak peak at May to see what might be coming up to be thankful for? Whatever method you use, please join me in making it twelve months of Thanksgiving. "How Thankful Are You?"


"Month #4: Liberty"

Twelve months of thankfulness. Phew! Some might consider that a tough assignment, but I am learning there is a lot I am thankful for. Doing something intentionally makes one aware of it rather more intensely than just going along and letting it flow across the day or week or month unnoted. Sure we’re all thankful day in and day out for a multitude of things, however, saying it aloud or writing it down crystallizes it making it stand out against what can be the humdrum of everyday existence. For those of you playing along at home, you know what I mean.

And so here we are in February. It is the month of Valentine’s Day, Ground Hog Day, Mardis Gras, and even International Condom Day. Mostly worthy events to be thankful for. It would surely be easy to talk about my Valentine with great reverence and thankfulness, but either I have already done so or I will do so before the year is up. February is the birthday month of some great Presidents and that reminds me of our founding fathers and the legacy of liberty they have left us. For that I am so very very thankful.

I just finished watching the "Sons of Liberty" on the History Channel and it reinforced what I already knew. Our founding fathers were quite an amazing group of men that came together and stood up for what they believed were unjust policies of a far away government. Not only were their ideas and objectives radical at the time, their actions were brave and dangerous. They put forth an idea, brought it to consensus, and risked their lives to bring forth a new nation. For those who have not seen it, I recommend it. See a replay of it or hunt it down somehow. It brings alive the early history of our nation and what allowed the liberty we enjoy in our modern day. It brings our school textbooks alive with drama and humor and believability that we don’t get on the page. Watch it and be amazed.

It also reminded me that I want to go back and re-watch the HBO series on John Adams. It was based on a book by David McCullough, one of our greatest historical novelists. It is amazing and tells the same story plus much more from a different angle, that of John Adams. It is a greater commitment of time and effort, but well worth it.

So, for month #4 I am thankful for the liberty we enjoy here in the USA and for those founding fathers that made it all possible. This is not political. Everyone benefits from their efforts of nearly two and a half centuries ago. All parties, all creeds, all religions, all persuasions of any kind should join me this month in being thankful for Liberty.

Have you been intentional about being thankful for something in February? One-third of the 12-months of thanksgiving has been recorded. Only eight more to complete our Year of Thanksgiving? "How Thankful Are You?"


"Life Itself"

In November I committed to being thankful more often than just around Thanksgiving. Spending a few words here each month talking about what I am thankful for will surely make for an entire year of thankfulness. This is only month three and since it is the anniversary of something dear, this will be easy. I am thankful for life itself.

You see January 10, 2001 I got a "new" birthday. On that day, after my stem cell transplant, my counts increased for the first time. The medical team that had worked with me so hard and for so long refers to that event, that turning the corner on the return journey from near death to life as my new birthday. So, this year of 2015 will be my 14th birthday.

Obviously I am thankful for my recovery. And I am so very thankful to the team that saved my life. You may think the immense difficulty suffered by the patient is the worst of it. As I have told everybody who will listen, the hardest jobs and the heaviest burdens are borne by the caregivers. My team of caregivers included my parents, my mother-in-law, my daughter, and most importantly my wife Mary. It cannot go without saying they all played a huge role in my survival.

The professionals that made it all possible, I refer to as my medical team. The team was headed by the incredible Dr. Mark Kaminski at the University of Michigan. His staff, the nurses on the transplant floor, the Residents, the Pharmacist, Housekeeping, and the medical Specialists all played an important part of my eventual survival. Each one played a critical role in winning the battle. It really was a team effort. Today, I still see Dr. Kaminski and his staff about every 18 months as I am still in a "durable" remission. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I found the folks that saved my life and gave me a "new" birthday!

Here’s a favorite poem I’d like to dedicate to the folks on those teams and those that are personally fighting the cancer battle.

"What Cancer Cannot Do" (version 2, anonymous)

Cancer is so limited that:
  • It cannot cripple love
  • It cannot shatter hope
  • It cannot corrode faith
  • It cannot destroy peace
  • It cannot kill friendship
  • It cannot suppress memories
  • It cannot silence courage
  • It cannot invade the soul

So, for month #3 I am thankful for my 14th "new" birthday. I am thankful for life itself and all those who made it possible for me to continue living. Thank you each and every one.

Have you been intentional about being thankful for something in January? Have you joined me on the 12-months of thanksgiving? You only have to come up with nine more things that you are thankful for to complete our Year of Thanksgiving? "How Thankful Are You?"


"How Thankful Are You?"

November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. Themes like the first Thanksgiving in America with the Pilgrims and Indians decorate store fronts and classroom bulletin boards. Cornucopias with produce spilling out are pictured on the front of church schedules and corn shocks and pumpkins are displayed on the steps of public buildings, representative of our bountiful harvest. All these things we are thankful for and so many more. Heck, even social media has become a way to demonstrate our thankfulness.

Did you notice last year there were many Facebookers who posted daily what they were thankful for during the month of November? It was called 30-Days of Thanks, I think. Most started out pretty strong and went along quite well for a couple weeks with obvious increasing difficulty. Then several days before the actual Thanksgiving Day they seemed to run out of steam. Wow! Is it that hard for us to come up with 30-things we are thankful for? It’s easy to recall one thing each of us is thankful for at the table before we cut the turkey. But, should 30-things be that difficult? If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Or check out Facebook. There aren’t that many posters doing it this year. I guess they learned how hard it was.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no better than most on Facebook, even though I have a multitude of things to be thankful for including life itself. Family, plenty to eat, a peaceful place to live, good friends, good business associates, and on and on. However, someplace around twelve I start to run out of steam, too. I mean being thankful for a hot beverage in the morning might be a stretch…maybe not. Anyway, I have decided that I should just pick one thing each month to be thankful for and concentrate on that all month long. It is somewhere near my threshold and perhaps yours too. Plus, the process will make me mindful of being thankful all year long rather than just in the month of November. If you all like the idea, I will start out each month’s entry here with what I am thankful for that month.

Next month will be month two. Since month one is the official month of Thanksgiving and I’ve been giving this some thought already, I am going to start with more than one.

  1. Health: Those who have good health know how important it is. Those who’ve lost it strive to get it back and those who’ve regained it give thanks over and over daily.
  2. Family: (number 1 & 2 go together in my mind) Good family helps maintain one’s good health, both mental and physical. I treasure my family and I am not embarrassed to state out loud to anyone who will listen how thankful I am for them, each and every day.
  3. Community: I just returned from visiting friends and family in New Jersey and that state North of here whose name will go unmentioned. I found the traffic unbearable, which made the amount of time to get a short distance around town unbelievable. It is a blessing to live in a small community that is affordable and easy to traverse. Additionally, it is situated in the Heartland of the Greatest Country in the World and for that I give thanks.
  4. Country: This great nation in which we have the privilege of voting. We just exercised that right and whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent you have got to be thankful for it and for the representative government we have here in the USA. Win or lose your voice is heard. Do not let any pundit or cynic tell you otherwise.

Health, Family, Community, and Country. Seems like a good start to "12-months of Thanksgiving." What do you think? Want to join me in listing eleven more things that you are thankful for? Or do you only show gratitude in November? I mean, really, "How Thankful Are You?"


"Artsy-Fartsy!"

A phrase that rhymes, ridicules, sort of celebrates, and is just plain fun to say out loud. Okay, let’s concentrate on the celebrating part of artsy-fartsy. The definition of artsy-fartsy is someone or something that tries to show their knowledge about creative works such as painting, sculpture or other artistic pursuits. Sure there can be some pretense involved, but it has been my experience that folks usually have some the knowledge and chops to back it up. In Van Wert there’s a lot going on with the arts for a town its size. Strike that, there’s a lot going on with the arts in Van Wert for a town ten-times its size. If we get called artsy-fartsy from time to time, it is a badge we should wear proudly. It’s a positive we should accentuate.

Many, many people and organizations over the years have promoted the arts in Van Wert. They laid the foundation for the luxury of arts we enjoy today. The Niswonger Performing Arts Center and its management have increased our opportunities for exposure to the arts by leaps and bounds. StateWide Ford Lincoln and the StateWide companies are proud to be the 2014-2015 Season Sponsor at Niswonger ( www.npacvw.org ). This year, right here in Van Wert at a state-of-the-art venue you can see amazing performers like Peter Yarrow of the iconic 60s folk group "Peter, Paul and Mary," Country Music star Josh Turner, "The Nutcracker" performed by The Ballet Theater of Toledo (a must-see Holiday treat), the legendary Kenny Rogers, comedian Sinbad, the traditional Broadway musical "Anything Goes" by Cole Porter, and the funny, touching play "Love Letters" with Hal Linden and Barbara Eden. And that is just a few highlights.

Whether you visit Niswonger this year for one of the many events, take in a showing at the Wassenberg Art Center, encourage a youngster to pursue her love of sculpture, listen to a rendition of "The Messiah" at a local church, support an area school band, take a local pottery class, or enjoy your own artistic endeavor, please get out to celebrate and promote and support the arts in Van Wert. Your life and the lives of those around you will be all the richer for it.

Other Goings-On this month include the Van Wert Rotary Club’s 27th annual Benefit Dinner/Charity Auction on October 11th. Held at the Willow Bend CC there will be plenty of opportunities to bid on amazing auction items. Expect interesting categories like Travel & Entertainment, Sports & Activities, Dining, Services, and more. Seriously valuable stuff like four tickets to see Fleetwood Mac with overnight stay and dinner, casino packages, four tickets to the Detroit Tigers, tickets to Ohio State vs Michigan football game, Collins Fine Foods cook out for twelve, His & Her wristwatches, Pie-a-Month for a year, so much more, and, of course, some surprises. Plus, there’ll be a Silent Auction with over 70-items. Oh, and the food will be superb with first-class service and amenities at Willow Bend. It will all be for a good cause that celebrates the arts with a lasting benefit. This year’s auction proceeds will improve Wassenberg Art Center by creating a walking path connecting the art center to the Town Creek footbridge. The Wassenberg staff and board expect the path will improve accessibility to the facility, as well as add interest and beauty to the property. Tickets for the dinner and auction can be purchased from all Rotary members. Be sure to get yours today and practice your auction strategies so you can win the bid on what you want.

By the way, did you know October is National Arts & Humanities Month, the largest annual celebration of the arts in the nation?And we are part of it right here in Van Wert. Now, that’s what I call artsy-fartsy!


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