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For more than two years, Western has been blogging about financial advice, family fun crafts and  events, member activities, historical archives, and more. We are happy to say we will continue this on our new website To go to our new blog home, visit

You can see all our archives on this site as well as our new blog home. Thanks for reading!

– The blogging committee

Kelsey L., Darcy, Kelsey C. and Erica

JoAnn Parks: Fraternalist of the Year 2014

good FOTY 2Joann Parks is a volunteer extraordinaire. From holding numerous positions – local, district, state and national, she is also lodge secretary, on both Lodge and State Scholarship Committees, on the 2014 Pre-Convention Committee, the lodge’s advertising person for events and articles, and is the go-to compliance person for meeting lodge and Association criteria. Best of all, with her help the lodge received the Outstanding Leadership Award and the WI Fraternal Alliance Impact Award.

However, she also does extensive community service. She has been active in her church – teaching Sunday School and serving on church council while raising her children. She helps with kolacky classes and provides Bohemian history at nursing homes, for the Cadott Historical Society and for bus tours at her lodge. She has helped make and serve traditional meals for the museum, the Univ. of WI History Dept. (which offered a 1-day class at the hall), and has helped with Czech Genealogical Society events.

Annually, she has represented the lodge at two ethnic fairs (UW and Portage County Festival) with a booth of maps, food and kroj, to raise funds for the lodge’s scholarship fund, which now gives two scholarships. She organized JOIN HANDS Day with students to volunteer maintenance on the Ice Age Trail. She organized the Long Live the Squeeze Box musical program of accordion/pushbutton volunteer players from WI and MN who perform on the hall stage. She also started the 50’s sock hops sponsored by the lodge – many of which were free for kids. She applied for Western’s Matching Funds for victims of house fires. She currently serves as Arthur Town Treasurer and is on the town’s Land Use Committee. She organizes an Art Tour, sponsored by the Yellowstone Art Trail, making a map for the tour brochure which features the Bohemian hall. She provides tours and history of the hall. When does she find time to breathe?

According to her lodge, her innovative leadership continues to be awesome also! She develops financial solutions for kids to do special activities, such as a pancake breakfast for two students to go on a band tour of Europe. She involves high school and college students who create plays and perform at the hall, having them help with Halloween Haunted House and Christmas Around the World program – where proceeds are shared between actors and hall and community benefits. She has worked with students of Eastern European Geography and Immigration History at the UW as well as Musical Heritage of Central Europe, guiding them on lodge tours about Bohemian history. Perhaps one of her best activities has been helping organize the YELL! group in her lodge including some of her extended family members.

According to one lodge member (Randy Meyer), she is a member that WI Lodge 144 is proud to claim, because her accomplishments are many, and her involvement in Western Fraternal Life is endless. She has exceptional goals, a wealth of ideas, and the energy to carry them out. JoAnn’s compassion for family, community, youth, education, and charity is reflected through her personal and lodge activity, as well as in her volunteer and civic efforts. Her commitment to the Association stems from her background and work ethic. Her parents, grandparents, and relatives were members of the lodge. Since joining the lodge with a love of history and ethnic ties in 2003, her grandchildren are now members, and she encourages other family members to join.

JoAnn has been married to Greg Parks for 37 years, with a daughter Jamie and son Justin. Her two grandsons Skylar and Hunter and granddaughter Harlow are her pride and joy.

According to her lodge, JoAnn Parks has the drive and resolve to be the best she can be. It is easy to treasure her as a friend, but her exemplary commitment to Western is worthy of this award. She has clearly been a benefit to the Association at all levels. She is a shining example of the kind of member and volunteer that any society could wish for.