The Best Thing We’ve Done


Planning—Key to Foothill’s Welfare Services Week

“We sat down and tried to figure out how many people we could get to snap off their televisions in the middle of the week and come out to a stake workshop on physical health and financial and resource management,” remembers Alan F. Toronto, high councilor in charge of Salt Lake Foothill Stake’s Welfare Week. “We tried to be realistic. If there were snow, it would whittle things down some more. We estimated three hundred—if we were lucky.”

There was snow. But between five and six hundred members of the stake snapped off those television sets and jammed the seminar rooms to learn about budgeting, investments, wills, physical fitness, and over-the-counter drugs.

The stake planning committee was delighted—and surprised. But if they’d looked at their planning and preparation—over a hundred man-hours—they might have found the reason for their success.

The project had started when Stake President Grant K. Fry got a late-summer “uneasy feeling that we just weren’t as involved as we should be in personal and family preparedness.” Most of his stake members have comfortable incomes; conventional welfare needs are rare.

So he gave his bishops a charge—what do we need to teach our members about the prevention aspects of welfare services?

His high councilors and seven bishops turned in lists of suggestions. By November, Foothill Stake was looking forward to a week of welfare activities slated for early January: a leadership session to train bishoprics, Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, and quorum presidencies; special Sunday School lessons; a consolidated stake Mutual session; and an evening of five rotating workshops—members to pick two.

There were two requirements: the spiritual should be emphasized, but the information had to be practical.

For the Sunday lessons, the ward and stake librarians prepared bibliographies of material that each Sunday School teacher and priesthood instructor could draw on for a lesson. The final bibliography totaled over 350 items—books, articles, posters, filmstrips, tapes, and pictures. Each teacher in the stake got a copy—and the assurance of the librarians that audio-visual material would also be available. Family presentations that Sunday were also themed to welfare.

Mutual-age youth—“more than we expected”—turned out to see Big Bird in passionate pink act as master of ceremonies for fifteen-minute skit/lectures on physical fitness, education, part-time work, and emotional control.

High councilors announced the workshops in all church meetings for two weeks ahead. Night Relief Societies for the week were authorized to attend the event. Stake-produced posters rotated from building to building for a fresh reminder every week. Two Sundays before the presentation, families received a program in Sunday School. One week before, sacrament meeting attenders received another. Hostesses were assigned to welcome people at each seminar, to call on someone for prayers, and to give the speakers five minute warnings so that each seminar would let out with the others. An elders quorum media expert was assigned to each room with clear instructions on what to do if a projector bulb burned out. All sessions were taped so that each ward library could have copies.

Did the planners overlook anything? “Yes,” Brother Toronto confessed. “Next year we’ll have a custodian standing by. We could have used some help salting down the slippery walks.”

The workshop sessions themselves, conducted by stake Relief Society president Geraldine Hanni, were the high point. Four of the six speakers came from Foothill Stake with one from a neighboring stake and another, a nonmember. John Reeves, a training specialist and consultant in personal money management, provided tips for “The Low Anxiety Budget.”

G. Blair and Lillie Ann Bradshaw, formerly of a savings and loan company, shared a long and specific checklist on how to develop such balancing skills as “computing the time value of money” and “the dollar value of controlling your wants.”

Kenneth J. Hanni, a tax attorney, CPA, and professor, worked through the hows and whys of will-making, using trusts, and selecting an executor. An enthusiastic endorsement of regular exercise and suggestions on alternative ways of achieving fitness came from Dr. Thomas D. Roseberg, a sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon.

Fred J. Kogan of the University of Utah’s College of Pharmacology peeled the label off nonprescription drugs to tell a standing-room-only crowd what was in them, what would best relieve which ailments, and what the difference was between popular look-alikes.

The results of this planning? Those five or six hundred members came anxious to learn. Some brought in their own tape recorders. Dozens complained at having to choose only two of the five sessions. Requests for the tapes and reports of the lectures came from those who couldn’t attend. Families often gave their next family home evening presentations on welfare services. Others reported reviewing their personal papers, updating wills, checking insurance policies, and cleaning useless drugs out of medicine cabinets.