When young boys in the scouting program and their parents become part of a Royal Neighbors chapter, amazing things happen.
With a true love of their community, members of Chapter 20125, Phoenix, Arizona, spread their volunteer spirit across many local organizations. Led by Tonya Meise, president; Orvell Franklin, secretary-treasurer; and Dakeitha Rivera, event planner, the chapter is continually looking for ways to make a difference.
One of the scouts’ favorite projects is working with the Diamondbacks professional baseball team. They gather at a game to complete hundreds of lanyards that are needed for guests attending an event called Faith & Family. This event provides families in need the opportunity to enjoy a major league baseball game and a concert that follows.
For the past two years chapter members have come to the aid of the team to complete this two-hour task. They also tour the facilities and get free tickets to the game. “It’s the best of both worlds,” noted Orvell. “They get to do something they may have never done before, but also are able to give back to others.”
The chapter also enjoys its annual Veteran’s Day dinner. The older scouts and their parents host the guests, seat them, serve them drinks, and food if they need assistance and then help clean up. The veterans are very appreciative and congratulate the youngsters on a job well done. “The kids light up with that recognition,” said Orvell.
Feed My Starving Children benefited from the chapter’s volunteerism, too. More than 20 members and friends created hundreds of food boxes for countries around the world in need of nutritious meals.
During a campout at Camp Geronimo, not only did chapter volunteers help the youth of the Arizona scouting community learn leadership and outdoor skills, they completed a clean-up on several acres of land surrounding the campsite. Due to wild fires it took many volunteers to accomplish the project, but the group was up to the task.
According to Orvell, the secret to the chapter’s success is planning and motivation. “We have a yearly planning meeting where parents come together for a barbecue or some type of dinner for 2-3 hours and talk about Royal Neighbors, who we want to help and how to raise funds,” he shared.
The leaders also do a talent survey with the parents to determine the best place to utilize their skills. For example, are they sports-minded, is anyone an engineer, are they camping enthusiasts, do they bake? This facilitates the process of finding the right volunteers for the right events.
“When we think volunteerism, we think short-term rather than long-term,” said Orvell. “Parents and kids are busy with work, school, sports, band, dance, and other activities so time is always a factor. We share project information with parents 90 days ahead so they can plan their families’ volunteer hours accordingly.”
Orvell says the scouts play a large role in the volunteer projects, too. “We want to know what they like to do and how they want to go about doing it. If they don’t like an event, it’s off the table. We’re also interested in knowing what it is about a certain event that makes them happy. We want to ensure they feel like their ideas are heard.”
Motivation is key and Orvell and his fellow leaders can definitely motivate. “I’m a unique character, I’m always go-go, positive, and always chipper,” said Orvell. “Our enthusiasm translates to the kids and their parents.”
Orvell is a strong believer in Royal Neighbors. “Everyone wants their community to be the best, and Royal Neighbors helps us make that happen by supporting our efforts to give back,” he said. “We are bringing our communities together, which in turn, will help us come together as a nation.”