For a small business owner, being seen in the community was an important part of their public relations plan. During the event, my father would field questions about new appliances and television problems; my mom would inquire about families and kids and both of their actions solidified relationships. There was no doubt that the majority of those they met at the service club event would visit State Radio and Television when it came time to purchase their next TV or appliance.
Times have changed. Service clubs hold fewer food-related fundraisers. My work with the Middleton Area Optimist Club has led me to believe that part of the reason is that it's not cost effective. By the time one purchases supplies and complies with food preparation rules supplied by the health district, the price of the ticket is likely higher than one would want to pay to eat pancakes on a parking lot. Not to mention, the one or two dollars that the club receives from each ticket isn't a big return on investment.
However, I must say that the way we socialize has changed as well. We text and email and reminisce with our friends on Facebook, making the annual pancake breakfast rather obsolete. That's why I was so heartened to see that the Optimist Club of Lebanon, Oregon finds its Strawberry Festival Breakfast to be part of the appeal to belong the club.
At the recent Biz Expo sponsored by the chamber of commerce, the Lebanon Optimist Club was there in force to explain what they do in the community. The Optimist Club Strawberry Festival Breakfast banner was there, front and center, publicizing the event; but more important, reminding visitors that when they support the community, they support each other.
I don't want to slow down technology. I'm all for advancing its power; but I would sometimes like to slow down time so that we are mindful of where we live and how a pancake breakfast put on by an Optimist Club has the potential to improve our relationships. Perhaps, coming together for pancakes could advance our community one relationship at a time. Perhaps some traditions need to be revived for service clubs and all.