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.

DIY Olaf costume

olaf“Frozen” is still a hot movie, especially the characters Elsa and Anna. Little girls are entranced by them and want to BE them, especially for Halloween. But what about the little boys? Or maybe the little girls who are not crazy about being a princess? Non-princess characters are limited to choose from and store bought costumes don’t always come in the best quality for the price you end up paying. So here is a fantastic tutorial on how to make a DIY Olaf the snowman costume for your child!
(costume idea from:

-plush white robe (you can find these for cheap at consignment stores or thrift stores)
-scrap black fabric/felt for buttons
-long sturdy twigs for arms

Step 1- sew small hem on bottom of robe and add elastic. This size of the hem will vary depending on your child’s height. It is best to have them wear the robe while you pin the hem.

Step 2- sew closed the front of the robe (leave enough room in the neck to get it off & on).
The front of the robe will actually end up becoming the back.
*the belt from the robe is perfect for dividing the snowman- just tie tightly in the back

Step 3- sew on fabric buttons

Step 4- cut the sleeves off of the robe, then gather and cinch the hole together with elastic. Your child will be able to hold the stick arms from inside the robe with them poking out of these holes, but will also be able to push their own arms out if needed.
– white crochet/knit beanie (these can be found for rather cheap at Wal-Mart and similar stores.)
-orange fabric felt for nose
-black felt fabric for eyes & eyebrows
-twigs for hair
-white felt fabric for teeth
-cotton fiber fill

Step 1- cut triangle (long carrot size) of orange fabric, sew long edges together (inside out) but leave short end unsewn, turn right side, stuff with filler, & sew on to beanie using the unsewn short edge.

Step 2- cut & sew on eyes & eyebrows

Step 3- attach twigs by poking through the hat then securing them on the inside with hot glue, sewing, or duct tape. Then use some spare felt to cover the ends so they do not hurt the child’s head.

Step 4 – Draw and cut out teeth, then sew them onto the front bottom edge of the hat (below the carrot).