The Gift of Kin
***SPECIAL TO THE ATLANTIC TIDES***
When I joined the Kin family 27 years ago, you used to frequently hear about the Gift of Kin, which from my understanding meant what each and every member received from their participation from being an active member of the Kin family. In other words, what Kin gave back to themselves for their participation? We used to hear testimony from many Kin what they considered to be the Gift of Kin. In the last ten years or so we have not heard much about the Gift of Kin. Needless to say with such a diverse group of individuals the Gift of Kin means many things to many people. I intend to discuss a few of the gifts that I have heard about and close this essay with what I consider to be the Gift from my own personal experience.
For many, it is the camaraderie and fellowship that being a member of the Kin family gave them. I experienced this first hand when I attended my very first Spring Zone in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The lads certainly knew how to party and enjoy themselves. However, when I was asked by my sponsor what I thought about the weekend, I responded that over the years of going to university I attended many parties and during my employment as a bartender there were not too many parties that I missed.
For others, it is the personal development that they achieve by holding various offices such as President, Treasurer, Secretary, etc. at the Club, Zone, District or National level. This was not the case for me since I had spent three years on the Student’s Council in High School followed by my years in university where I was the commerce representative on several committees, as well as the student representative on the Senate. I was also co-chair of my graduating class which organized many functions including the first grad Ball to be held off campus.
For some others, it was the ability to be involved in a project from start to finish. At first being a committee member and ultimately being able to chair the project. Basically one learns through doing. While this is very rewarding and over the years I have worked on and chaired many projects at the Club, Zone and District levels I had done many successful projects in my life prior to my joining Kinsmen.
For many others, it was the opportunity to develop the ability to stand up in front of a crowd and speak publically by expressing their views in a clear and intelligible manner. This was not my case since I had developed the skill during my years on the Council and at university long before I became a Kinsmen. I honed these skills as a Kinsmen. Today, I still have the ability to speak in front of a group though perhaps somewhat long-winded; my fellow club members would tell you that someone needs to flash a red card when I speak on an issue at a club meeting.
That is my review of some of the benefits that many would consider to be their Gift of Kin which did not apply to me. I will now share my experience on what the Gift of Kin means to me.
It was during the week prior to Christmas in December 1989 and the Kinsmen Club of Dartmouth had just completed its Christmas Miracle Project. The club received a number of names of underprivileged children with suitable suggested gifts. The public would pick a name and buy gifts and return the unwrapped items to us in order that we may deliver the items prior to Christmas. There were always some packages which could not be delivered and we would attempt another delivery during the week. It was either a Monday or Tuesday evening and I packed my car with a number of gifts to be delivered and left the Kin House to make the deliveries.
However, I needed gas and at the station the young female attendant began to fill up my car. Oh! Yes there were Service station attendants back then. While she was doing her job she asked what I was doing with the gifts in the car. I briefly explained the Kinsmen Christmas Miracle Project to her and that I was making some final deliveries. She thought that this was wonderful and asked if she could make a donation and I replied yes. She gave me a $5.00 donation. Which for her was substantial since the minimum wage was only $4.50 per hour at the time.
I made several deliveries and then made my last delivery. I found the address and proceeded up the outside stairs to deliver the bags filled with gifts to the second floor. I knocked on the door which was opened by a young teenager perhaps about 15 or 16 years of age. I told him who I was and he let me in. I was greeted by a single mother with four children from ages 5 to the boy who had opened the door. I left the packages and she thanked me gratefully.
In closing, this is what I recall when I think of what the Gift of Kin means to me, especially every year during the Christmas Miracle Project which is now in its 46th year. I remember the look of genuine gratitude from the mother with four children when I delivered the packages to her door. It was clear to me that without the generosity of many people like the young attendant and the work of the Kinsmen Club of Dartmouth to accept, gather, package and the deliver the gifts to many families, it would have been impossible for that mother of four to have anything to put under the tree for her children. It is wonderful to be a member of the Kin family and continually enjoy the Gift of Kin through our ongoing work in serving the communities greatest needs!
Respectfully submitted by Joe Doucette, Kinsmen Club of Dartmouth