America’s Service Club
Exchange is known to millions as America’s Service Club, and with good reason. From our organizations earliest days, Exchange Clubs have been unselfishly serving their communities and improving the quality of life. The diverse array of Exchange-sponsored programs and projects has made a considerable impact on America, thus enhancing the lives of countless men, women and children across the nation. In a very real sense, Exchange exists for the simple purpose of serving others.
This page is a guide to the many activities that make up the Program of Service of The National Exchange Club, activities that are being successfully implemented every day by clubs across America.
Exchange’s Program of Service is divided into the categories of Americanism, Community Service and Youth, with Child Abuse Prevention emphasized as our national program. These activities have been carefully designed to meet the needs of our communities as well as to preserve and strengthen the principles that make our nation great. In addition to being tried and tested throughout the nation, many of these projects have been honored with national awards and all have received community acclaim.
While Exchange Clubs are encouraged to participate in as many of these outstanding programs as possible, clubs are not limited to these activities. Every club should annually survey the needs of its community and determine what it can do to more effectively address those needs, either through the Program of Service or projects developed and implemented exclusively at the local level.
As always, The National Exchange Club stands ready to aid and assist every Exchange Club in its effort to bring the Program of Service to greater numbers of Americans by providing informative how-to booklets, official supplies and other materials. Call 800-XCHANGE or e-mail email@example.com.
During the 1940s, Exchange had organized its club activities around seven areas of service that included: education; agriculture; aviation; citizenship; commerce and industry; federal youth rehabilitation; youth and geriatrics.
Today, three Programs of Service and Exchange’s National Project, the prevention of child abuse, are lenses through which local clubs focus their energy and attention on their communities’ specific needs. The Programs of Service are Americanism, Youth Programs and Community Service.
To help uphold Exchange’s Mission of inspiring communities to become better places to live, we have partnered with Veterans Matter, another national nonprofit. Veterans Matter is solely dedicated to providing deposits/first month’s rents for ready, waiting veterans who can use can use HUD-VASH vouchers to cross the threshold into safe, permanent housing. Veterans Matter has a 100% success rate in getting veterans housed in a government program that has a 91% success rate in keeping veterans housed. There are veterans waiting now; so, the urgency is immediate!
Have you ever passed a homeless person on the street and wondered if they were a veteran? Have you ever seen a homeless person holding a sign declaring he/she was a veteran? Has your heart ached as you passed by – knowing what you could give would hardly impact his or her situation? Do you know that veterans account for approximately one (1) of every four (4) homeless people living on the streets – streets within the very communities they served to protect? Did you know that it’s not only veterans who are homeless, but their children and spouses as well?
The reality that any veteran is homeless, let alone nearly 50,000 of them, is a stain on our nation’s honor. But, we don’t have to be powerless; working together, we can make a difference.
The National Exchange Club believes there’s no better way to show gratitude for our freedoms than to thank a veteran; and, there’s no better way to thank a veteran than by taking care of those left vulnerable by homelessness. That’s why your local-level Exchange Clubs are committed to helping Veterans Matter raise the funds needed to get veterans housed, as fast as possible. At a national average of $750 for a deposit, we can do this!
America’s young people are its most precious natural resource. This is why, for many years, Exchange has sponsored an impressive selection of activities designed to benefit and encourage our nation’s youth. Not surprising, many of these richly rewarding programs are among the most popular and well supported of all Exchange Club endeavors.
Exchange’s youth projects include the Youth of the Month/Year Award, the Young Citizenship Award, the A.C.E. Award and EXCEL Clubs.
One of the most popular of Exchange’s youth projects, the Youth of the Month/Year Award recognizes industrious high school students who attain high levels of scholastic achievement community involvement and leadership. This proven program not only rewards outstanding young people, but also provides an incentive for other youngsters to strive for equally high levels of achievement.
Cooperation from school authorities and youth leaders is easily attainable. As a result of the favorable publicity which the program often generates, the sponsoring Exchange Club enhances its own community image.
Once a Youth of the Month program has been successfully implemented, the groundwork for conducting an annual Youth of the Year competition is already in place. Selection of the Youth of the Year is simply made from among the club’s Youth of the Month recipients for that school year. Then, the club’s Youth of th Year advances to district competition, and ultimately, an opportunity to vie for the prestigious National Youth of the Year Award.
Specially designed plaques and certificates, along with a detailed Youth of the Month/Year information guide and application, can be obtained from National Headquarters.
While the recipients are selected by classroom teachers, the Exchange Club is responsible for providing the awards and promoting the program in the community.
Exchange’s Young Citizenship Award honors pre-high school students who daily demonstrate good citizenship both at school and at home. It does not necessarily seek to salute star scholastic or athletic performers. Instead, the program is designed to recognize and encourage youngsters who, although perhaps not at the head of their class, are honest, hard-working, helpful and fair.In practice, the Young Citizenship Award provides class-room teachers with an effective tool to further motivate promising students. It also provides Exchangites with an enjoyable opportunity to supply the encouragement that can be so vitally important in shaping the characters of youngsters at an impressionable time in their lives.
This program recognizes high school students who have made a dramatic change in their attitude and performance sometime during their high school years. These changes have enabled the students to overcome their adversities and prepare for graduation. Hence the award’s name, A.C.E., which is an acronym for Accepting the Challenge of Excellence. The A.C.E. Award may be presented to several deserving students over the course of a school year, or limited to one especially outstanding recipient. The scope of the project is determined by the sponsoring Exchange Club. Clubs may also submit their top A.C.E. Award winner to the district competition. Winners at the district level then have an opportunity to compete for the new National A.C.E. Award. Additional information on the A.C.E. Award can be obtained from National Headquarters.
Each EXCEL Club is sponsored and mentored by a local Exchange Club. All high school students are welcome to get involved. EXCEL Clubs can be formed in any secondary school, including public, private, parochial and vocational schools. The two basic requirements are to recruit young people who are willing to take on the challenge of becoming charter members of a youth organization, and the sponsoring Exchange Club must have the dedication to advise and guide the EXCEL Club to fruition.
EXCEL Clubs are groups of high school students dedicated to improving their schools, communities and country through volunteerism. As members of EXCEL Clubs serve their communities, they also develop valuable leadership and networking skills. EXCEL Club members learn by doing. The students, with the help of a school advisor, lead the club, decide on how to serve their school and community and then get actively involved in doing just that.
Adopted by the National Exchange Club in 2006, the KAP Mural Project challenges churches, synagogues, schools, and social organizations to have their youngster talk about peace and peaceful living, then design and paint their mural on a sheet of plywood. Participating organizations display their mural in front of their building in May, Peace Month in Massachusetts, and keep it on display through Labor Day. Locally the KAP organization supplies the sheets of plywood with the Kids As Peacemakers header across the top, to tie all of the murals into a community-wide program.
Promoting pride in country, respect for the flag and appreciation of our freedoms are the primary purposes of Exchange’s Americanism programs. These time- tested activities afford every Exchange Club the opportunity to create greater community awareness of the privileges of American citizenship, and all clubs are urged to actively participate in them.
The Americanism projects include the Freedom Shrine, One Nation Under God, Proudly We Hail and Project GIVEAKIDAFLAGTOWAVE.
The Freedom Shrine is an impressive, permanently mounted collection of 28 of the most important and historic American documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Gettysburg Address.
These remarkable documents serve as windows to the world of America’s proud past. They show our nation’s youth the strength and courage of their forefathers by allowing them to read, with their own eyes, the immortal words of inspired Americans who so decisively changed the course of history.
The objective of Exchange is to install a Freedom Shrine in every junior and senior high school in the nation. However, Freedom Shrines have also found places of honor in universities, libraries, state capitols, airports, city halls and other public places where they can be studied and admired.
While Freedom Shrines may be presented at any time of the year, Exchange Clubs are especially urged to conduct at least one presentation during the month of May-Freedom Shrine Month. For more information on the Freedom Shrine, visit the Virtual Freedom Shrine Web site.
An outstanding companion to the Freedom Shrine is the Milestones of Freedom program. Consisting of special quizzes based on the Freedom Shrine documents, the program encourages youngsters to gain a deeper understanding of these documents and their importance in the development of the American way of life. The Milestones of Freedom program is conducted in cooperation with local schools. Students posting the top scores are presented with distinctive Liberty Bell Medallion awards by the sponsoring Exchange Club.
Just as its tongue-twisting title suggests, this popular projects involves the distribution of small American flags to youngsters at parades, fairs, picnics, school events or other community happenings that generate large crowds. The flags are absolutely free to the children and can make a great souvenir of the occasion.
This is an easily implemented and effective program designed to cultivate a deeper sense of patriotism and to heighten young Americans’ appreciation and admiration for our country’s flag. Flags with National Exchange Club identification are available from the supply department.
The powerful program not only aims to increase appreciation of our rich religious heritage, but also seeks to remind Americans that we must always trust in a higher power for guidance, protection and strength. The famous words of the program’s title are, of course, taken from the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. One Nation Under God Month is observed annually during November. Exchange Clubs can implement this program in a variety of worthwhile ways, such as organizing community-wide prayer breakfasts, distributing pamphlets describing the American Flag’s history and proper display, sponsoring One Nation Under God essay or poster contests in schools and encouraging attendance at religious services.
No symbol better signifies our nation’s greatness or inspires respect and love of country than our American flag-the Stars and Stripes. That is why The National Exchange Club encourages all Americans to properly fly the flag as an ongoing, highly visible expression of that respect. To accomplish this simple goal, Exchange has an effective program known as Proudly we Hail. It encourages regular display of the flag by individuals, commercial establishments and industries by honoring them through the presentation of a specially designed plaque. Every club member can participate in the program because it is the individual member who watches for and nominates potential recipients. This outstanding program promotes Americanism as well as community recognition by the sponsoring Exchange Club.
The real political power in this country lies with people who have never used it-the people who don’t vote. The National Exchange Club has developed this project to encourage Americans to “Get Out the Vote.” Americans are given the freedom of choice-to choose which candidate to elect or whether to vote at all. An alarming number of citizens are choosing the second option, leaving only a handful of people to decide who will run our country. Through this exciting program, clubs will educate and encourage people not only to register, but to cast their vote on election day.
All the activities that make up the Program of Service have a common goal of serving and benefiting our communities. Why then a separate category called Community Service? Because while the programs listed under Child Abuse Prevention, Youth and Americanism focus on specific areas within the community, the following projects are more broad in scope and are designed to benefit every community member.
These projects include Crime Prevention, Fire Prevention, The Book of Golden Deeds Award and Service to Seniors.
To help stem the rising tide of crime, The National Exchange Club established a powerful program to heighten public awareness of the many ways average citizens can help prevent illegal activity. Since its inception, Exchange’s Crime Prevention program has been endorsed by nearly every President of the United States as well as leading law enforcement officials. Because of its undeniable importance, the program is supported by the vast majority of Exchange Clubs. They can choose from a large and varied assortment of proven activities, including Child Fingerprinting, Junior Police, the Blue and Gold Wounded in Service Award, My Day in Court and many more.
While any of these vital activities can and should be carried out throughout the year, clubs are encouraged to kick off their anti-crime campaigns during National Crime Prevention Month, observed annually in October.
Each year, National Headquarters develops a complete promotional package for Crime Prevention efforts, including a slogan, a colorful, attention-getting poster, a placemat and a Personal Crime Prevention Action File. National Crime Prevention Kits, distributed to clubs well in advance of the October observance, also contain step-by-step instructions for the suggested projects, news releases, brochures and other useful items that enable Exchange Clubs to help lessen the menace of crime in their communities.
Also observed during the month of October are Exchange’s Fire Prevention activities. Year after year, fires in the United States claim thousands of lives and are responsible for countless injuries and vast amounts of property damage. But in many cases, those deadly and destructive fires could have been easily prevented.
Through such Fire Prevention activities as the presentation of educational talks, the distribution of information and the sponsorship of poster and essay contests for children, Exchange Clubs can help citizens to recognize and eliminate potential fire hazards, as well as teach them how to protect themselves if a fire does occur. In addition, clubs can support efforts to improve and expand fire fighting units, install smoke alarms in the homes of needy families or participate in a variety of other beneficial projects.
This exclusive Exchange Club program honors the quiet, good deeds of America’s unsung heroes. The woman who regularly donates her time to care for disadvantaged children-the man who voluntarily instructs disabled persons in some skill or craft- these are the kinds of exceptional individuals that the Book of Golden Deeds Award aims to recognize. These uncommon men and women exist in every city and town and, if not for this project, might never receive the acclaim that they deserve. This program is easy to implement and extremely satisfying once accomplished.
Finding and screening nominees can be done in a number of ways and, if necessary, with the help of others in the community who are eager to cooperate in such a rewarding project. For some clubs, an annual awards banquet has become the social event of the year because the honored recipient is truly a hero of the community.
As this segment of society continues to grow, so does the need for programs that assist older Americans, enabling them to continue leading productive lives.
That is the positive purpose of the activities that comprise Exchange’s Service to Seniors program. Exchange Clubs can choose from projects such as Adopt-a- Grandparent, the Golden Key Latchkey program and the Senior Citizen of the Year Award. These activities that clubs develop to address specific needs, can help make a lasting difference in the lives of a community’s senior citizens.