AMBUCS is a national service organization composed of a diverse group of men and women dedicated to creating independence and opportunities for people with disabilities by performing community service, providing AmTrykes to children with disabilities, and providing scholarships for therapists. There are 5,600 members currently in AMBUCS in 15 states across the country. The AMBUCS “Big Hat Club” is a club within the association restricted to those AMBUCS who have, by their own efforts, secured three or more new members in existing chapters or newly chartered chapters during any twelve-month period.
Haskell Conkle, an organizer and charter member of the Griffin Chapter of AMBUCS, received his Big Hat, an award for membership recruitment, on charter night, August 20, 1948. He has served in all chapter offices, sometimes two and three times, through his years as an AMBUC with total commitment. This year, after serving on the Board of Directors for many years, he has been elected Parliamentarian. During his chapter presidency in 1960-61, 42 new members joined the Griffin Chapter and in 1990-91, as Club President, 25 more members were added.
Conkle served on the committee that started the AMBUCS School classes for handicapped children in 1951, which was taken over by the State and Federal Governments in 1964 and as Chairman of the committee that started the Putt-Putt Golf Course in City Park in 1957.
In 1961, Conkle formed the committee to attain AMBUCS Park consisting of a basketball gym with meeting rooms upstairs and six Dixie Youth League Baseball Fields where the state playoffs are held. The park grosses more than $50,000 annually and the monies are contributed each year to the baseball league for scholarships for children who cannot afford registration. The original idea for building a wheelchair accessible playground came from Conkle and he chaired the committee that made his dream a reality. There are now two wheelchair accessible playgrounds in the area.
In 1993-96, as Southern Regional Director, he provided the leadership to charter a new chapter in Spalding County and the North Georgia chapter in Dahlonega, Georgia. Conkle is the only member of the Griffin chapter in 52 years to be Regional Director.
Not only is Conkle busy in AMBUCS, but he is dedicated to other community organizations as well. He has served as steward many times in his 58 years of membership at the First United Methodist Church in Griffin, Georgia. For more than 40 years, he served as Finance Chairperson for the Flint River District of Boy Scouts for three years raising more than $30,000. He was once Spalding County Commissioner and is a lifetime member of the Georgia County Commission’s Association. He is a Blue Lodge Mason and Past Master of Griffin Lodge #413. For 50 years, he has donated to the Masonic Children’s Home and for 40 years to the Scottish Rite Hospital.
In 1961, when the AMBUCS National Convention was held in Atlanta, Haskell Conkle was the Lt. Governor and planned with National for a “day out” in Griffin Georgia. Over all, he has attended 24 National Conventions, and at the 79th National Conference in New Orleans was named AMBUC of the Century.