Every year, Western Fraternal Life has the privilege of selecting a Fraternalist of the Year. This is someone who has exhibited leadership within the society, has served others, and been innovative. This year, there were many entries to select from. From those entries, Western is proud to announce that Gladys Ruha has been chosen as the 2019 Fraternalist of the Year.
Gladys Ruha has been a life-long member of Rip No. 144, Mosinee, WI. She has attended lodge, District, and State Meetings, as well as National Convention, for over 20 years. She helped to maintain the attendance level within the lodge by making phone calls and organizing carpools to help people stay involved.
"Our lodge would not be the same without her," summarized No. 144 Secretary Pamela Thompson.
Gladys was instrumental in putting together a YELL! group. She rallied the young people to try out some simple ideas, and now they take a special liking to playing games at the nursing home. No matter what the lodge is doing, she gets the children involved with tasks to keep them interested in coming, time after time.
She also had an idea for a presenter at our Christmas program, and it proved successful. One year the program was Honor Flight participants, another time it was a demonstration about owls in Wisconsin. To continue to get more members involved, Gladys suggested making meetings part of a field trip. The lodge has gone to the REGI Center and the Viking Long House. Even regular meetings have had something special that increased attendance, thanks to Gladys.
She has been responsible for the community picnic and Christmas organization since 1994. For those events, she comes up with the theme, decorating ideas, and games. She also decides what the lodge Join Hands Day activity will be with the preschoolers. She regularly attends lodge activities as well.
This past year, members sewed pillowcases and blankets to donate to the Fire Department to give to traumatized children. Gladys bought the fabric, washed, and ironed it to get ready for the work day. When everyone showed up, she worked during the five-hour session with six others to finish the project. She joined with other members to deliver the pillowcases, which were filled with a blanket and teddy bears.
Gladys organized materials needed for the YELL! group to make fire starters for Mead Wildlife to use for the fire place and to give away. The YELL! group spent three hours making and packaging them to give away.
Gladys has served her community through active volunteerism. She is a Stratford Historical Society member and organizer. She has been the primary person on the board for the society since the inception. This involves organizing what the display will be for the season. This past fall, she reached out to people to provide quilts and lessons related to the exhibit.
She has been involved with Mead Wildlife since inception as well. Gladys and her husband Arne, (who passed away recently), would organize fundraisers to help develop the Mead. Last year, she volunteered and provided an activity for Spooktacular and Winged Wonders. These two programs are regular events at the Mead. At Spooktacular, she helped with an art project for the kids to do and got volunteers to help with the art project and clean up after the event. There were over 30 volunteers for the event and over 200 people came.
Additional community service projects include working the hamburger stand at Stratford Historical Days, planting trees for Arbor Day, keeping bird houses cleaned out, decorating a Christmas tree at the cemetery, finding homes for stray cats and kittens, making cards for soldiers, and playing Bingo with residents of nursing homes.
Gladys Ruha was presented with an engraved clock (shown in the photo on the cover) for being this year's Fraternalist of the Year. The clock was presented to her by President Craig Van Dyke on July 18 at the National Convention. President Craig Van Dyke added, “We are very proud to have her represent Western as the 2019 Fraternalist of the Year. Congratulations, Gladys!”
Members of Western are welcome to nominate a Fraternalist of the Year each year, with nominations due May 1. For complete details and nomination form, please visit www.wflains.org under Member Benefits.
Western Fraternal Life thanks and credits No. 144 Secretary Pamela Thompson for nominating Gladys Ruha and providing this and much more information with her nomination.
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Call 877-935-2467 to speak with a Western Fraternal Life Representative.