Preconceptions, Surprises and Passing it On
SPECIAL TO THE ATLANTIC TIDES
The first time someone mentioned the prospect of joining Kinsmen to me, the thoughts that circulated through my head were ones that I look back on now with some humour and, admittedly, disappointment in myself. Really? Kinsmen? Aren’t those the old guys that wear the silly hats and drive the little cars in parades? Yes, I was way off the mark and, in all fairness, I’m sure the Shriners are also a great group of people who do great things for their communities. I had a preconceived notion about this group, even though I had no real knowledge of its composition or purpose. I can now look back on those thoughts as the error they were. Kinsmen hasn’t just completely shattered my preconceptions of a bunch of stodgy, old men sitting around discussing topics that I, in my spry days of my early 30’s, had no interest in, but I also now recognize the silliness of believing I would have nothing to gain from spending time with people older than myself.
Just before I was recruited to join the Kinsmen Club of Bible Hill, I was actively involved in a group looking to promote the area as a great place for young people to live, work and be entertained. The group was, unfortunately, going nowhere. There was very little cohesion, motivation or action from the few members that we had other than to have a couple of drinks before the meeting and discuss the latest happenings around town. Neither of those things is terrible, but I aspired for something more. I wanted to be part of a group where the social network was strong and we were involved in activities that made a difference. Another member of the organization was having similar issues with it and had recently started attending local Kinsmen meetings. After we discussed the lack of action from the movement, he started talking about Kinsmen and how, while they were small in number, they were having a major impact in the community. After some discussion, I agreed, with a sliver of reluctance, to attend an upcoming meeting to learn more about Kinsmen and to see whether it was the right fit for me.
Right from the get-go, I was intrigued by the relaxed atmosphere of the meetings and how everyone was simply having a good time. Being involved in political and other community meetings through my line of work, I was used to very stuffy, uptight gatherings where joking and merrymaking were frowned upon. The people attending them often had ulterior motives that usually involved political aspirations. This was completely different. The people were personable, welcoming and were at the meeting because they wanted to attend, not because they had to be there. This was foreign to me and most definitely refreshing. I left feeling I had made contact with a bunch of guys with no political agenda or aspirations, but instead a desire for fellowship and to do some good within the community. They were real, genuine people with no underhanded motives. I felt like I had finally found a home. There was never any real debate in my mind over whether I would attend another meeting or become a member. It was a given almost immediately.
Since that first meeting, I’ve never looked back. I’ve served on the club executive as Registrar and Club Secretary. I’ve chaired committees and have been involved in more projects than I can count. Everything from trivia nights to Santa Claus parades, canteen projects, community barbecues, dunk tanks and everything in between. I’ve watched, with great pride, over the last five years as our small club has doubled its membership. We’re renowned for being a club with a great mix of younger guys with energy and enthusiasm and older men with experience, wisdom and the ability and desire to be mentors. We’ve never come up against a task or initiative that we’ve thought we weren’t capable of doing and doing well. The unique and varied skillset of our members is invaluable in taking on a broad range of initiatives that raise thousands of dollars each year for local, provincial and national charities. The biggest shift in my life since joining the Bible Hill Kinsmen is having a child. My daughter is just seven months old at the time of writing this essay. I’ve already had her at Kin events and plan to take her to many more. I want her to see that helping the community is important and to instill in her a sense of pride in being involved in something bigger than her. I want her to see that I do this not because I feel obligated to do it, but because I want to do it. It’s the right thing to do and it’s a lot of fun! It has become more difficult to be involved in as many projects or to take on as much within the club as I did before her birth. Not a worry though. There’s never been an unkind word said to me due to this. There’s never been anything but a sense of understanding from my fellow Kin. I can’t wait for her to get older so she can roll up her sleeves, pitch in and help us serve the community’s greatest need.
Tim Tucker was born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador. He moved to Nova Scotia in 1999 after spending some time in Alberta. He’s been a member of the Kinsmen Club of Bible Hill since 2012. Tim is a Project Manager with Futureworx, an organization specializing in employability programs and services throughout the province.