Former Pekin Mayor John McCabe can sum up how he is filling his time as a private citizen in one word: volunteering.
“(There are) a number of different things I’m doing,” said McCabe “I’m still working with (Pekin Township) when they serve their senior luncheons. I’ve been doing this since I retired from (teaching at Pekin Community) high school, which dates back to 2013. They serve senior luncheons on Thursdays twice a month.”
Since stepping down as mayor last month, McCabe has stepped up his community service efforts by volunteering at the Tazewell Animal Protection Society. His family has owned several dogs over the years, and all of them were adopted from TAPS, so he has a special affinity for the organization.
“I volunteer at least once a week to do dog-walking, help clean things, fold laundry,” he said “We’re animal lovers. We’ve always thought (TAPS) was a great place, so I told (my wife) Susan if I get the time, I’d start volunteering out there as much as I can.”
Being a private citizen has also given McCabe more time to work with Midwest Food Bank as a driver, donate platelets to the American Red Cross, volunteer as a driver for the annual St. Jude Pekin to Peoria Run, and help his wife, a master gardener, with work on gardens around the community. As a member of the Pekin Kiwanis Club for several years, he has started working with the group’s Aktion Club, which helps people with both physical and mental disabilities.
“I think that volunteering fills a void,” he said. “You get out and do things and you help other people. At the same time, you help yourself as well. Volunteering to me is both a spiritual and mental lift. If you’re not volunteering after you retire, what are you doing?”
McCabe has also established a lawn-mowing service in his immediate neighborhood to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“I’ve been doing one yard for a few years because the (next-door) neighbor was born with juvenile arthritis,” said McCabe. “He can’t get out and take care of his yard so I started volunteering to do that a few years ago. A couple of others are in the immediate area. One of them, the house is now empty because the (resident) has died. I told the family that I’d take care of their yard and asked them to make a contribution to St. Jude. A couple houses down, the gentleman can no longer get out and do the yard himself. They were paying a service to do it and his wife didn’t like having to pay all that money. So, I told them the same thing. ‘I’ll mow your yard and you can just make donations to St. Jude.’”
Unfortunately for Pekinites hoping to have their lawns mowed by a former mayor, McCabe has no intention to expand his service to the rest of the community.
“I’m not looking for more,” he said. “For one thing, I don’t have a trailer or anything to take the mower around town.”
Including his term as mayor, McCabe served on the Pekin City Council for a total of eight years. He has had to adjust to being a private citizen, but has found some relief in making that adjustment.
“There’s a mental relief. I don’t have to worry about getting ready for council meetings all the time,” he said. “It’s only been a month, so it’s really hard to tell (what I miss about being mayor). I can’t say there’s anything in particular I miss yet. That might sink in later. (I don’t miss) all the phone calls and emails. I used to get a lot of them.”