Altrusa International published a note.
Linda K. Valeck Davis
A #100years100Altrusans profile
How did you first become involved in Altrusa?
While completing my degree in Vocational Education/Business, I worked as an Officer Manager for a home health care agency. The Director of our office was a member and often sold me raffle tickets, invited me to fundraisers, talked about the club activities and so forth. Once I'd earned my degree and took a new position in my field, I handed my personal resume to my boss and said "Since I buy the raffle tickets, go to the fundraisers and enjoy myself, I'd like to be a member. Would you recommend me?" When I was initiated a few months later, I was just 23 years old; I was told that at the time I was the youngest member of District Five.
What is your fondest Altrusa memory so far?
There are too many to choose just one! However, my many friendships with Altrusans not just from Saginaw, MI but throughout District Five and the world are at the top of the list.
Attending several International Conventions provided outstanding opportunities to visit different locales and make many new friends. When the International Convention was held in Rapid City, SD three New Zealand Altrusans stopped here in Idaho for an overnight stay. What fun!
Prior to attending the convention in Chicago, I began corresponding with an Irish Altrusan who was a contact for our sister club. During the opening ceremony, I sat at my table watching and wondering if Christine had come to the convention. I turned my head, read a name tag and there she was . . . sitting right next to me at a nearby table!
How has Altrusa changed you, personally and/or professionally?
Since I was so young when I became an Altrusan, it was a tremendous benefit to me to have so many other, accomplished women as role models, friends and in some cases, mentors. Wonderful, wonderful women who took me under their wing and helped me grow not just as a professional and woman, but as a volunteer leader.
What has surprised you the most during your time with Altrusa?
Sadly, that this wonderful organization seems to be sliding into oblivion. When I became an Altrusan in 1978, there were nearly 21,000 members in almost 500 clubs. Now, fewer than 8,000 active members participate in 326 local chapters. Perhaps it is a "sign of the times," but Altrusa has given me so much, its decline over the last 39 years does, indeed, surprise me.
Why do you choose Altrusa over other service organizations?
Variety. Eventually, my degree took me into a classroom and I spent many years as a high school teacher. Schools are, by necessity, pretty regimented places and an arena where there are always opportunities to "volunteer." I wanted to give my volunteer time outside of my job but not to just one entity. Additionally, I enjoyed meeting other professional, adult women in other career fields.
Through Saginaw Altrusa I was able to volunteer in so many different ways, in so many different capacities with many different organizations and learned so much about my community that I would not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.
I've cleaned an exhibit at the Saginaw Children's Zoo, helped remodel a kitchen at a women's shelter, polished the brass at a century-old theatre, met international exchange students by giving them a tour, given bingo parties in an assisted living home and more. In addition, regularly scheduled program meetings took me inside the local waterworks building, the inside of Saginaw's oldest home, behind the scenes in local hospitals. Speakers enhanced my view of the area; local t.v. personalities, a judge, historian, directors of various social agencies. My experiences and interactions through my local club were a myriad of wonderful opportunities.
Needless to say (but I will), as I "advanced" in my membership, my travels throughout lower Michigan and Ohio (District Five) expanded my horizons even further.
Tell us about the people that you've met through Altrusa.
I've alluded to this in a prior question, but just wonderful people, primarily women. It has been a humbling and enlightening experience to call them colleagues and, in many cases, friends. Women who are just good people with whom I've shared joys and sorrows, fun and fellowship, all while advancing Mamie L. Bass's admonition "It is not enough to be good; we must be good for something."
What do you wish other people knew about Altrusa?
When I became Governor of District Five, I gave all of my board members and chairs a children's book, "It's Not A Box" by Antoinette Portis. Altrusa is a structured organization in that the international organization and foundation provide a framework for club and district operations and the tools necessary to do so. Yet, it allows -- in fact, encourages -- each chapter to find the unmet needs in their individual, local communities and to meet those needs; just supply hard work, determination and a creative, supportive spirit!
What do you do when you aren't volunteering with Altrusa?
In 2008, my husband and I moved to SE Idaho to be near our daughter, son-in-law and soon to arrive first grandchild. Now I am an affiliate located about 115 miles from the nearest Altrusa club (Ogden, UT - District Ten) and about 375 miles from the nearest club in District Twelve (Missoula, MT). I am no longer active in an Altrusa chapter and I miss it, still, terribly!
Since the birth of our grandson, we've provided daycare for him and now his little sister as well. Now they are both in school and those responsibilities are dwindling. We have them all summer and our new tradition is taking them back to the "Mitten" where we visit family, spend time at our cabin and introduce them to the joys and wonders of the Great Lakes.
In terms of volunteering, I am a member of the local Friends of the Library group.
Hubby and I also like fishing, primarily ice and fly . . . now located just three hours from the west gate of Yellowstone NP means we enjoy that park and fishing there a few times each year.
Linda K. Valeck Davis is currently an affiliate Altrusan who was previously a member of Altrusa International of Saginaw, MI, USA in District Twelve. She joined Altrusa in 1978 and has held leadership roles as pretty much all Chairmanships and Officer titles at the club level. As an active member of District Five she was Program Coordinator (twice), many committee chairmanships, Director, Treasurer, First-Second Vice Governor, Governor-elect and Governor.
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