The Words of the Yakawich Family

Community to the power x

Mike Yakawich
September 21, 2012

'The savior is the one who saves this world, not just a certain nation or religion.' (John 3:16)1

On August 23, 2012, a note came to our mailbox from MT Gov. Brian Schweitzer. He wrote, "Thanks for the book. Best of luck with the gazebo project. Sincerely Brian" The book he referred to was As A Peace Loving Global Citizen, by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. It is an amazing book, an awesome way to share about the life of a great man and an excellent way to start this article in honor and respect of Rev. Moon, a peace loving global citizen. Rev. Moon has been my role model for community service and in being a 'tribal messiah'. He has always inspired me to get involved with the South Side Task Force, which helped revitalized the Billings South Park by assisting with the Magic City Blues Festival.

Community happens on many different levels, including big public festivals to private hospital visitations. I have found fond kindness and inspiration this summer in spending time with my dear friends as many were in the hospital or shut in spending time alone. Demiteria had knee surgery, Tami heart surgery, Steve a collapsed lung, a few in convalescent homes, Jerry with kidney stones and Walter in the ER with a heart attack. How we love them all and find just a visit can brighten up their day. They do not forget such action in their time of need.

In this essay I wish to offer a community perspective to building a better society. When the community is involved, committed, energized, passionate, and committed to moral principles, the community has unlimited potential, up to the x power. We certainly need passion. Passion gives us the willingness and desire to serve and give of one unselfishly. It drives us to think about the greater good and not just what we want to do personally, but what will help all of us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The test of your courage comes when we are in the minority". When we are in the community, often we begin by being the minority and creating credibility with consistency, courage and compassion.

"If you sacrifice your private life for the public, you will be respected by people around you," stated Rev. Moon. "God is always public." In these words I believe the true value of home church/tribal messiahship, treating your entire community as your own family, living for the sake of others, is where the kingdom of heaven begins.

Earlier this summer, I was on an IV. However, I was not receiving but rather giving plasma. Giving this blood and plasma helped me ponder about how we are each called to give of ourselves. As the nurse too commented many burn victims need such plasma for their recuperation. Thus, we can give in many different ways.

When we talk about rebuilding, I take it in the literal sense. As chair of the South Side Neighborhood Task Force along with our committee and community partners, we took upon our self to rebuild the gazebo in our local park. Over the past two years, it has been a great lesson in planning, organizing, working with city government, architectural firms, contractors and community citizens.

Missey, Mike and the Mayor,

In the book, Gracious Space, by Patricia Hughes, Hughes defines "Gracious Space as "a spirit and a setting where we invite the 'stranger' and embrace 'learning in public'." (11) There are many businesses and organizations that have much to offer and teach us in the community. There is much to learn from listening and including those outside our circle.

To understand our community, we cannot change what we do not know. We have to get involved, join a club, volunteer. Then we can understand the challenges in our communities by addressing such issues as suicide, family breakdown, and crime, gangs, and/or drug and alcohol abuse. Understanding begins with engagement. You need to walk and talk with people in your neighborhood.

This summer I had the opportunity to present with my colleagues and the Billings Police Department staff on Suicide Prevention. This was part of training for businesses to explain approaches and techniques to address a suicidal customer. Here is a great website for suicide prevention by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We had tremendous support for the Suicide Prevention Awareness Day.–169252536.html

How do you evaluate if you do not understand and interact. To understand your community is to inherit from it. You need to build upon what is there. Evaluate, contextualize, learn and develop. Know the players in the community and cooperate, collaborate, network and connect.

To understand the government is to understand your own government. How much are you engaged? Attend local government meetings, study the charters of that city and get involved in local and state government. Join local groups and learn how to run boards, attend city council meetings, read Roberts Rule of Order. Here is a link which shows the working with Billings City Parks and Recreation Department.

Chuck Tooley, former Mayor of Billings, and now running for Public Service Commissioner sent me this photo. He has been a good friend and mentor over the years. You can meet amazing leaders in your community as you reach out.

Even to understand business you need to work with those who know business. Engage in business, form a business and run it, work with someone else. Understand the handling of money, books and book keeping, taxes, contracts and etc. I have a humble business, Yakawich Gifts. Yet, I have had amazing customers and learned a great deal about business, bookkeeping and management.

The world is in my community. To change the world I first need to change myself. To build peace in the world I must start in my neighborhood. You can survey, engage, research and discover the various needs in the community.

What will the future be like? I believe it may hinge on you and me. What am I doing to make change? Our youth are watching us. They will not do what we say but what we do. Our goodness will be written upon the stones of life and our short comings on the sands of time. To believe in change is to work on change and to be willing to personally change.

We find as Rev. Moon commented in his autobiography, (288) we need to respect cooperate and work together. As many faith based service projects we are involved in Angela's Piazza, a Catholic Outreach Center to the local Baptist Friendship House. Last week, our family volunteered many hours in the local park for a community project. These are all wonderful opportunities to embrace and serve community.

Learn from what others have done

Be humble to the good of what others are doing

Build upon this foundation and support each other

Edward Thorndike commented "An adult who ceases after youth to unlearn and relearn his facts and to reconsider his opinions…is a menace to a democratic community." I find myself always having to learn and change my attitude, learn and grow from others. As I work in the community, I realize there is so much more to learn and many good people to learn from. Recently, our Chief of Police attended a local meeting where he pointed out many practical points to avoid burglary and other crimes. It was a great learning experience.

It does take a community to support our youth. We have learned this by working with the Boy Scouts. It too has been a privilege to help several other youth in the Troop to achieve Eagle. One recently flew from Seattle to work with our Troop for one month and achieve the rare rank of Eagle. His projects included, planning, organizing fundraising, and implementing the sanding and varnishing of 17 doors, office wood trim and cabinets plus patching three holes in the walls. Mark Sevier, our Troop Leader wrote after this project, "It does take a village to raise a child. I am blessed by having you and your family living in my village."

At a recent Crow Fair sponsored by the Crow Tribal Nation, we participated in a recognition ceremony for Dustin, the first Crow Native American Eagle Scout. During this event, the family honored those of us from Boy Scout Troop #7 who encouraged, supported, and assisted this young man's achievement. Indeed, it was a special privilege to be invited and also acknowledged by the Crow Nation.

I believe with God all things are possible. We can achieve great breakthroughs. In the book, Robert Lupton, Return Flight Community Development through neighboring our cities, Lupton explains that "Healthy families, the fundamental unit of social order, are reinforced by healthy communities." (91) He also mentioned: "Any sound strategy for community development must recognize the importance of the human spirit, acknowledge the need for the cultivation of spiritual and moral values, and include religious involvement as an integral part of its planning. (21) These words touch my heart acknowledging the value of and including God in our community work.

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do."

Johann von Goethe


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