Thursday, June 7, 2012

One Year After Retiring

It's been a year since I retired. But I will have you know, we have been plenty, busy, continuing, our efforts with Syracuse Children at the Police Center. I apologize for not keeping up on our blog but a lot of changes have been occurring since Mom passed away. We were so, busy preparing for my retirement, moving from Syracuse to St Lawrence County, totaly replacing a new roof on our home (here on Black Lake), continuing our programs with Police Center children and working on new programs with children up here in St Lawrence County. We still have a lot of work to do on our home and our work on Ropes Challenge Courses / Team Building Workshops is starting to pick up. So, don't expect to see me much on the computer. But I will try to get some posts up,starting with the Spring Fishing Trip; we recently brought Police Center children up for the weekend May 18th-20th. Things are going well with my retirement though, I am a bit more busy than I would like to be. Although the lake is part of my front lawn (as you can see from the photo), The only times I spent fishing was during the children's Ice-Fishing Trip, the Spring Fishing Trip and another evening or two when Retired Police Officer Charlie Nelson (A.K.A. TUNA) came up for a few days visit. I am guessing by October I may be done with our home repairs and may be able to begin enjoying my retirement. Upcoming programs for our Syracuse Police Center Children are "Putting blinders on the pheasants to assist with the Pheasant Stocking Program" (July), "The Annual Summer Camping Trip" (August, "The Pheasant Release Days" (September/October), "The Pumpkin Carving Party" (October at the Police Center). We will also be assisting the Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department with a Pumpkin Carving Party up here in the north country. For those of you who support us financially with these programs a GREAT BIG THANK YOU! Our funds are extremely low right now. We will need to build them up before these coming events.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas 2010 Mailing

December 1, 2010

Dear Supporter,

As I was going through my pile of mail the other day, I was reminded of how many organizations ask for monetary support. I thought about how people decide which organizations they will support with their hard earned money. I looked at my own giving and was reassured that most of my contributions go to my local church and to organizations that I know help children and families who are in need, such as the Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, the Food Bank, and others. I also give to a number of organizations with a mission I agree with, such as Ducks Unlimited--increasing wildlife habitat, and Rails to Trails--converting old railroad right of ways into trails for public use such as bike riding, running and walking. I enjoy duck hunting with my wife and two labs, and thus, I know firsthand the need for maintaining wetland habitats which are home to so much of our wildlife. Likewise, my wife and I traveled on a week-long bike ride with Rails to Trails and enjoyed riding on some of the beautiful rail trails. Still, I sometimes find it tough to determine which organization to support. During these difficult financial times I am extremely grateful for you folks, who continue to support our Police Center Programs. I am well aware that there are more choices than funds when it comes to your money. Thank you for making us one of your choices.

I know I cannot adequately explain the importance of helping families during the holiday season. I think Charles Dickens did a good job in his portrayal of Mr. Scrooge. We don’t need to be frightened by ghosts to recognize our responsibility to give some of what we have to others who are truly--and sometimes desperately--in need. But I do believe we sometimes need to take an honest look at what we have, compared to those who have nothing. As a Police Officer, I am constantly reminded of poverty and the families who are affected by it. I have been called into homes where a bed in a child’s bedroom is not a piece of furniture but a wad of blankets on the floor. There are no curio cabinets, fine dining room tables, or artwork on the walls. The bathtub is the washing machine. The cupboards and refrigerators are bare. At times it seems hard to believe that families live like this in the U.S., but they do. At times, it is frustrating to watch celebrities pump millions of dollars towards making people’s lives better in other countries when we have so many families in need right here in our own country. That doesn’t mean that those countries don’t need or deserve it, because they do. It simply means we have a lot of work to do for families in our own communities--families that many people don’t even acknowledge exist. This Holiday Season I would ask that, rather than look away from the poverty around us, we look for the people affected by it. They are here in our midst. They may be in our middle class neighborhoods, but they are here. We see them but often look right past them. Many we do not see because their transportation is their feet, which means they buy their food at the closest corner store, not the big supermarkets where we shop. They eat at home or soup kitchens, not in the nice restaurants we are accustomed to. They shop for their clothes at thrift stores and only after wearing out their current clothing. From time to time we have to stop and take a genuinely honest look at what we have, compared to those who have nothing. I, for one, know that I am blessed. I have a job, a roof over my head, a big queen size bed, plenty of food in the cupboards and the refrigerator. God has richly blessed me, and I have a responsibility to share some of what I have with others.

I encourage you to take at look at how blessed you are and spend this holiday season sharing your blessings with others. Locally there are many great organizations that serve needy families who could benefit from your support. This year I challenge you to give both your time and your money. It’s easy to give our money; it’s much more difficult to give ourselves. Take that extra step and get yourself and your family involved. Imagine the fun you could have with your family and some friends by dressing up in costumes and ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. Volunteer to serve food at the Rescue Mission or stock shelves at the Food Bank. Come help us with the preparations for our Children’s Christmas Party. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with any number of worthy agencies. Please don’t let this year pass without getting involved.

Our Children’s Christmas Party is always our biggest event of the year. Each year we serve almost 1,000 children. It’s not only the gift for each child that is needed. We also need wrapping paper, name tags (self-stick), tape, snacks, drinks, coffee, cups, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, ink cartridges, and photo paper for photos w/Santa (Polaroid film is no longer easily available).

The Christmas Party is planned for Thursday, December 23rd, from 2:00pm-7:00pm. We need numerous volunteers for various jobs on the day of the event as well as prior to the event. On two separate evenings (the weekdays before the party) we will be bringing gifts to Senior Centers to be wrapped--one night from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Salina School Apts., and another night 6:00pm-9:00pm at Franklin Square Apts. Volunteers are needed both nights. Also, if you have children who would like to help before the event, I need help picking out the gifts. We usually do this over several evenings once we begin receiving toys. On the day of the party, volunteers are needed to sign children in, serve food, wrap gifts, take photos w/ Santa, print photos w/ Santa, give out gifts, manage trash receptacles, and answer phones. If I know in advance the number of volunteers I have coming for the party, I am able to break the day down in shifts and offer volunteers the opportunity to rotate assignments. Please call me if you would like to volunteer.

As the cold weather arrives, we see an increase in the number of homeless folks who stop by the Police Center to pick up clothing. Anyone who has some used clothing, coats, hats, or gloves, and would like to drop them off, I am sure they will be useful for these families. I am once again searching for a pair of size 13 boots for someone in need. A good warm, insulated, rubber-type boot that can stand up to wet and snow would be best.

I have been making notes of families who sign up for the party that I believe could use a little extra help. It’s sometimes heart wrenching to see some of these families. We will do what we can for them. For anyone who wants to add some canned goods to their donations, we will use them for food baskets to help these families.

Donations of any of the items listed above or monetary donations to help us purchase the items will help make the Christmas Party possible. I would like to thank you for your continued support of the Police Center Programs. You make a tremendous difference in the lives of the families we serve.

Wishing you a safe and happy Holiday Season,

Officer Clarke

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Wedding September 25, 2010

God has blessed me in a multitude of ways. On September 25th I tied the knot with my lovely bride Renee. I am not sure why it is sometimes called "tying the knot," but I did it anyways. Many of you know Renee from her volunteer work at the Police Center. If you drop by the Police Center, it is likely you will find her answering the phone, assisting someone, or preparing for our next event. I rely heavily on her for all of the Police Center operations. To say "I couldn't do it without her" is an understatement.

In the photo, we are outside the First Congregational Church in Brier Hill (Renee, Mom, my daughter Makenna and I). My sister is holding a blanket (I think it might be from one of the Clint Eastwood cowboy movies) that she just pulled off of my mother. Due to Mom's health, she was dressed in a housecoat (she looked worse in the blanket). She would swat me with the fly-swatter for posting this one. I may look a little better than her this time (unlike the fishing photos). At this time, Mom was very sick, but she still made it to our wedding. I was blessed to have her there. We just put up a 42'x60' pole barn at my camp on Black Lake. It was there that we held our reception, finishing our evening around a campfire with family and friends.

My past five months have been very busy and emotionally draining. I will attempt to get refocused on our blog and post news and photos from our past few events. Thank you for your support and understanding during these difficult months.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

October 13, 2010 Mom went home to be with the Lord

As many of you know, Mom has been fighting liver cancer for the past two years. For those of you who don't, Mom had Cirrhosis of the liver and the cancer was discovered after required testing for the possibility of a liver transplant. Mom was not a drinker, and it is believed the Cirrhosis may have resulted from a fatty liver--another health risk to those of us who are overweight.
Two years ago, doctors encouraged Mom to go on Hospice and give up her fight with the inevitable. Mom refused and insisted on living her life to the fullest until the Lord Jesus decided to take her home. I found it troubling how much Mom's health care providers attempted to facilitate giving up the battle (especially at the hospital).
During the past two years Mom went on her first cruise (which was my first also), spent many days up to my camp fishing and even helping out with children on our camping and fishing trips (the children loved when she made waffles). She also spent hours of her time sharing her wisdom and building memories with her 12 children and over 40 grandchildren. I am grateful to Doctor Kittur who always encouraged Mom to keep fishing and enjoying life and to Doctor Fiacco who helped treat some of the symptoms from which Mom suffered.
On October 13, while surrounded by family in my sister's home, Mom went home to be with the Lord and family members who have gone before her. Mom's love and Godly wisdom will be greatly missed. Thank you for the many prayers, words of support, cards, and notes I have received during the past two years. They have been an encouragement to me.

Every Spring Mom would spend hours fishing from my dock on Black Lake. She especially loved bullhead fishing. In the photo above, I was cleaning a basket full of fish we had caught the night before when Mom yelled for me to come out and net this pike.

In this photo, Mom landed a nice Bass on another day during our same trip. Mom loved to fish, and I loved to sit next to her, baiting her hook and taking off her fish. I think it's appropriate to post these photos of Mom even though she always worried about her appearance in photos. Besides, I look much worse than she does.

Please note: when Dad passed away 3 yrs ago September 11 with liver cancer we were blessed with the assistance of Hospice for several weeks. They were absolutely wonderful to Dad and helped us through the passing of a loved one. We also were assisted by Hospice for the last few days of Mom's life on earth. They are such a blessing and a great help to families in similar circumstances.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Firearms Training

Some words of advice to anyone who has ever thought about becoming a criminal:
Do not wear this mask while committing a crime.

If you have been wondering why I am just getting around to putting up blog posts from Easter Events, this guy is the reason. I have been a Police Department Firearms Instructor for over 20 years. Due to Departmental Needs, I was instructing on the Firearms Range for eight consecutive weeks. Although I attempted to keep a day a week open for Police Center operations, it didn't always work out that way. Now that I am back, I am still chasing my tail, but I am slowly catching up.

In addition to qualifying on a paper target course, the training included "force on force training." This scenario based training involves the use of handguns (same make as ours) that fire a non-lethal paint-loaded projectile. Officers are presented with scenarios where they engage adversaries that think, move, and shoot back. This type of training allows officers to participate in realistic training scenarios where mistakes can be exploited and corrections made with out the loss of life.

The mask in the photo is the one I wore while playing an adversary who, most often, used deadly physical force against a police officer or citizen in the scenarios. Needless to say, I got shot, wrestled to the ground, and handcuffed a lot.

Although, the eight weeks of instructing firearms training put me behind at the Police Center, I find it very rewarding to belong to a Police Department committed to providing its officers with the highest quality of policing skills. Such skills equip us to serve and protect the citizens of our city.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

Our Soap Box Derby Racers

Four of our kids from the Police Center had the opportunity to experience, for the first time, racing in the Soap Box Derby. Thanks to the generosity of one of our most fervent supporters, the two sets of twins from the Daily family (Hunter, Takota, Nevada and Sam Daily) each had the chance to drive down the S. Geddes St. hill in a Soap Box Car.

In the weeks prior to the race the boys attended their practices held on Grant Blvd. into the Alliance Bank Stadium Parking lot. This gave the boys their chance to closely examine these strange looking cars and take them for a test spin. Gaining confidence from their practice drives, the boys were ready for the race. Although the the boys were not top place finishers in the race, the entire Daily family enjoyed the event, and plans are already in motion for next year's race.

All-American Soap Box Derby History
Taken from the 2010 Soap Box Derby Program, pg 36:

The Soap Box derby is a youth racing program that has run nationally since 1934. It has been called "The Greatest Amateur Racing Event In the World." The Soap Box Derby started when a Dayton, Ohio Photographer, Myron Scott, was covering a race of boy-built cars in his community. He was so impressed with this event that he acquired a copyright for the idea and began development of a similar event on a national scale. the race became an annual event and expanded throughout America.

The goals of the Soap Box Derby are to encourage close youth-adult activities while building and racing the car. The construction of the gravity racecar reinforces the importance of setting and completing goals while developing such traits as self-confidence, perseverance and craftsmanship. Regardless of the outcome of the race, each youngster is a winner, as they have shared a memorable experience with their advisor. I especially like this quote from pg 5:

"It's better to build children than to repair adults"
~Fredrick Douglas

A big thank you to all the people who work so hard to bring the Soap Box Derby to Syracuse Children. A lot of hard work is required for this event. If you would like to learn more, help out, or donate to the event, visit
Congrats to all who participated.

Officer Clarke

Volunteer Fire Department Training (burning down the old farmhouse)

It was time to say goodbye to the old farmhouse I lived in for a short time as a baby. The Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department along with some Hammond VFD folks utilized the structure for a training. How wonderful it was that the training coincided with our fishing trip. The farmhouse is across the street from the lake. We all piled onto my trailer for a safe place to watch the training.

The Firemen and Firewomen did a great job providing the children with an up-close look at firefighting. As you can see from the photos it was an impressive fire. For us city-folk it was a lesson in all the extra work that needs to be done to fight a fire without the assistance of fire hydrants. Trucks ran back and forth to the lake to fill up with water, returned to the yard, emptied the load into the holding pool, which was then sprayed onto the fire. It was a fun and exciting experience for the children. Now they all want to be Firefighters rather than Police Officers.

Mom and Jim were up for the weekend. It was a bittersweet time for her to watch the house burn as she reflected on memories of us living there 50 years ago. My grandfather purchased the land in 1957. I sold my camp and purchased my Dad's place when he was fighting cancer. Last week I bought out my aunt and uncle's interest in the farm. I now own 10 acres in all and can accomplish some things that need to be done before I retire and move up there.

Thank you to Brier Hill and Hammond VFD for getting the job done and the great learning experience for the children. I admire all of our VFD families who volunteer their time and efforts for our communities.

Officer Clarke