Friendship Force members and clubs around the world are doing spectacular work all the time! Look here for news, stories and information on upcoming FFI events worldwide.
Editor’s Note: In March 2018, the Friendship Force of Sacramento celebrated their 30th anniversary with a spectacular celebration, with many members, civic leaders, and FFI CEO Jeremi Snook in attendance. At the event, original charter member of FF Sacramento, Doris Schroeder, shared the following story. You see more photos and details of the celebration here on FF Sacramento’s website!
I stand before you today in place of my husband Helmut Schroeder who passed away in 2016. He established the chapter of the Friendship Force in Sacramento in 1988. He shared the dream of the Friendship Force that one day all people on this beautiful planet would be able to live in peace and harmony with each other.
The Friendship Force of Sacramento had humble beginnings with many meetings in our living room. The club of San Francisco was very helpful. They sent experienced members to assist with the first steps of establishing our club. My husband contacted the headquarters of the Friendship Force in Atlanta, and the founder, Wayne Smith, came to Sacramento to help in the planning on our club. You all probably know that the Friendship Force was started by Wayne Smith, a former pastor, who together with President Carter founded the peace organization in 1977. On March 1st of that year, the Friendship Force was officially introduced at the White House by President Carter.
Our first incoming exchange took place in 1988 with the club from Arnhem, Holland. Diny Goossens was the exchange director and brought with her a number of brave souls to Sacramento. It happened around Thanksgiving and of course we did our best to impress our guests with an authentic Thanksgiving Dinner. We had rented space at the library on Auburn Boulevard and we hauled many cooked turkeys and all the trimmings there. It was a successful exchange and many others followed.
In the fall of 1988, my husband and I flew to Holland and attended our first International Conference. King Leopold of Holland opened the conference with the Carters in attendance. We were thrilled when President and Mrs. Carter greeted us at the table with a handshake. The idea of inviting strangers, of course with the same peaceful mindset as ours, into our homes and introducing them to our own style of living, fosters friendship, understand and respect for one another.
In 1989, the Sacramento club participated in an exchange to Colombia. We stayed with a young family in Bogotá, then in Cali, and then from there onto Leticia. From there, the exchange director organized a most adventurous trip by boat on the Amazon river to a remote village. I will never forget this trip, where we fished for piranhas, shared a bottle of rum in the boat, and hiked through the jungle to our designated village, where we were greeted by the indigenous, friendly people with fruit juices and unusual food. I remember it was very tasty and we all devoured our meals.
The Sacramento Club hosted many exchanges over the years from all over the world. Thanks to all of our members, our club has established a very good reputation. My husband and I hosted guests from Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan, Holland, Germany, Russia, Colombia, Taiwan and Indonesia. We hosted two high school principals from Jakarta, Indonesia. One of the excursions took us to Plymouth and Calaveras Big Trees, where these two delightful gentlemen experienced their first snow in their lives. It was so funny to see them throw snowballs to each other and shriek with delight. We hosted a couple from Taiwan that did not speak English but we communicated with our gestures, facial expressions, and pictures. We parted as friends.
I am sure many of you have similar experiences with your guests. I know my husband would be very proud to see how well the Sacramento Club is flourishing under excellent leadership. So let us continue to be messengers of peace in the world. I would like to close with a motto of the Friendship Force: A world of friends is a world of peace. Thank you.
– Story written by Doris Schroeder, original charter member of FF Sacramento