Written by Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
Thursday, 01 December 2011 15:20
Imagine needing help and there is none to be had. Picture a place where its people were too busy or simply stopped caring about making their town a better place to live. Imagine a community with no Lions Club, Rotary, Kiwanis or other community-minded groups.
Although it hasn’t reached that level of concern, these groups, who help make life a little better, have been seeing an exodus of members over the years, a trend that mimics that of groups nationwide.
As a result of this, one would think these beacons of hope in the community would dim and the community would pay the price, feel the pinch, or notice their hometown was not like it used to be.
Instead, volunteers already saddled with responsibilities and work have picked up the slack, making sure there is unity in the community.
One of those dedicated individuals is Rich Kramer, of Edwardsville.
Since 1971, Kramer has given his time and energy to more than 15 community-minded organizations, and among his current duties is being involved with an organization close to his heart– the Kiwanis Club of Wilkes-Barre.
“It’s sad to say, but it’s a sign of the times with groups losing members,” said Kramer, whose day job is a CPA. “This has been going on for some time in pretty much every sort of club or organization. There are many reasons why this is taking place. People are busier than in the past, with work and family issues, and just the commitment of being in a club. With the way the economy is lately, it’s not uncommon for people not to have the money it takes for dues, even though they are small, if they’re just getting by on their bills. Every penny counts.”
So it has landed on folks like Kramer to keep giving their time instead of taking more time for themselves after decades of service.
Kramer continues to be involved with many aspects of the Kiwanis.
Upon leaving the Army Finance Corps in 1971, Kramer returned to the Wilkes-Barre area and wanted to take part in the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program. The only thing was the organization did not exist in the area. Instead of forgetting about the idea, with the help of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Jaycees, Kramer founded a local chapter that continues to thrive 40 years later. In the process, the BBBS has enriched the lives of hundreds of youths in the area.
“I’ve always been a believer that if you see a need in the community and you can help change that, you should try and make it happen,” Kramer expressed.
That need over the years has included serving as president of the Jaycees, as a two-term president of the Kiwanis Club of Wilkes-Barre, and two years as president of Jewish Family Service of Greater Wilkes-Barre, an organization that serves clients of all faiths and traditions throughout the area.
“Over the years, I have been very fortunate to have worked with some amazing people in the community who have worked hard to make changes in our town, whether with issues that face children or our town’s history,” he added. “With the Kiwanis, we’re focused on improving the lives of children in the area through a multitude of programs.
With membership not as high as it once was, we try and continue to provide the same amount of services to the area, and in some cases, that means helping out a little more. It can be hard finding a balance of work, community service, and family, but you make it work and in the process, you hope you’re making a different in the community for children and people of all ages.”