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The Gift of Pancakes

Executive Director John Stauffer talks about the Gift of Rotary Pancakes

By John Stauffer, Executive Director of Helping Hands Respite Care and East Lansing Rotarian

East Lansing Rotary Pancakes in the Park is one of the things I look forward to every year. As a person who has spent most of their life in the marketing arena, and loves people, Pancakes in the Park is just a comfortable and enjoyable event for me. This year was special because the efforts of the committee included several new elements to the Pancakes event. If I were to summarize the committee’s work it would be simple.

Less work, more money, great job!

It is because of more than money that I stand before you today. In an effort to honor the “Service to Community” piece of Rotary, the Pancakes in the Park committee suggested this year to give a portion of the proceeds to a couple of the non-profits that they have associated themselves with in the past.

Helping Hands Respite Care, a non-profit that I have the honor of being the director for, was the recipient of a $2,500 check from the proceeds of the pancake event. We were given the opportunity to sell tickets, advertise the event on our website, and push the event to our friends on Facebook, and have a presence at the actual event. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. The committee invited me as the director of Helping Hands to be present at meetings prior to the event to share ideas and information as it pertained to advertising, promotion and the selling of tickets. It made the Pancakes event much more personal for me this year.

The Gift of Rotary Pancakes

Last week I walked in to the regular Rotary meeting and Amy (club treasurer) quietly handed me a check for $2,500, the commitment to Helping Hands that our club had made at the beginning of this process. The check was quietly folded and placed in my shirt pocket. It appeared uneventful, but it was anything but. I had a tear in my eye because of what that check represented. It was the culmination of a collaboration between the two organizations of which I am most proud to be a member.

This check represented the congruence of value and service between our two agencies – I believe everyone in this room is here because they see Rotary as a way to exponentially expand the things that we believe in and leverage the good work we want to see accomplished locally and globally. The check in my breast pocket last week was an acknowledgment from an agency I proudly serve, to an agency I proudly represent. An acknowledgment that you believe in the work we do.

Cathy Zell (president-elect) asked that I share a little about how our agency has or intends to use the funds received. What I say to you today is the fact that you entrusted the funds to our use without first requiring or directing what the use of the funds would be is so much more important than what we actually did do with those dollars. Thank you so much for your belief in Helping Hands, and for those of you who just have to know your funds are being utilized – they are being used to help us grow a new program at Helping Hands Respite Care where we use paid interns from MSU, students majoring in Kinesiology, Nursing, Family Studies, Social Work, Pre-Med and Psychology, to work directly in our programs and in the family’s homes of those we serve.

Helping to fund a program that will ultimately facilitate helping even more families who desperately need respite (a short break) from the intense responsibility of being fully present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for their loved one with a disability or failing health. For me…that is the Gift of Pancakes this year!