Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ten Blessings for Someone Else – ‘Tis the season!

My family and I are blessed.  We have a wonderful home and love.  We have friends and family who care.  God has provided a wonderful life for us.  Each year at Christmas time, we exchange gifts with one another to represent that gift that was given to us long ago in Bethlehem.  This Christmas, my husband and I looked for ways to give outside of our family.  These are some of the donations that we considered.

All of the following ways to better our world can be done by DAR members and non-DAR members alike.  Just remember, if you want to give financially, and you are in the DAR, you may want to consider giving through your state treasurer instead of directly to the causes to get chapter credit.  But let’s face it…it is the giving for the sake of others that is really the focus here.  Make your gift “In Honor Of” or “In Memory Of” someone special.

1.  Donate items to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center – When our active military duty are severely injured they are sent by medevac to this facility in Landstuhl, Germany.  They are always in need of healthy snack bars, chocolate, candy, iTunes® gift cards, lip balm, and deodorant.  Create a box of these items and ship them with a few thank you cards. 
You may send your donations with required custom forms to:
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
Attn:  MCEUL-CH/Chaplain’s Office
CMR 402
APO, AE 09180

2.  Donate to a local Women’s Shelter – Many of the women and children in local shelters have only the clothes on their backs.  Often times, they leave their homes in such a hurry to avoid more danger that they are in great need.  Contact your local women’s shelter and find out how you can donate clothes and toiletries.  I will make it easy for you to find the closest one to you.  Go to and choose your state.  Scroll down for a list of cities.  Click on your city and then scroll down for a list of the shelters and contact information.

3.  Adopt a Classroom at the Kate Duncan Smith DAR School – Have you heard what great things happen at the Kate Duncan Smith DAR School?   According to their web site, “The school serves grades K-12 and provides opportunities for the children of a large, rural area in the Appalachian foothills to develop a strong love of American ideals as they obtain a distinctive academic background.”  One year my chapter adopted a teacher at KDS and supported her math classes with donations of calculators and other general supplies.  All of the students were very grateful.  Consider adopting a class or making a donation to the school this year. 
4.  Donate to the Tamassee DAR School – This place changes lives!   According to their web site, “Tamassee DAR School is a private 501-c(3) non-profit children’s home and family services organization offering multi-faceted programs to serve children and families with a variety of needs.”  “The annual cost for a child to live in the safe and secure environment of Tamassee DAR School is $25,000 and no child is turned away due to an inability to pay.”  Consider making a donation to help a child have a safer environment and a better chance in life.   You can donate online.
5.  Make a Donation to Your Local Veteran’s Hospital – We live in a free country because of the many men and women who have sacrificed much for our freedom.  I may not know them, but I am thankful for them.  Why not donate to your local Veteran’s Hospital.  I will make it easy for you.  Go to and click on the map to find your area’s closest facility.  Then, once you find it, click on “Volunteer or Donate” on the right hand side.  You may find a list of volunteer activities or a list of ‘needs’ they have.  Either way, thank a Veteran this holiday season.

6.  Purchase and Donate an American Flag – Contact your local library to see if they have an American flag.  Perhaps your local schools need an American Flag for their auditorium or classrooms.  Remember to buy an American made American Flag.  Here is a site that sells classroom flags for $16.30 each. 
7.  Donate to the Indian Youth of America Summer Camp Program – During the summer the Indian Youth of America Summer Camp Program meets in several places in the US.   According to their web site, Over the past 34 years, IYA’s summer camps have provided thousands of Indian children between the ages of 10-14 with an alternative to spending the summer at home….often with no entertainment, recreation or job opportunities.  The summer camps have provided a variety of positive activities at a time when youth lack supervision and are most vulnerable to peer pressure, criminal activity, gang involvement and substance abuse.”  Consider sponsoring a child today by paying part or the entire $300 camp fee.  You can donate online.
8.  Donate a Book to Your Local Library – When I first joined the DAR, I was not a huge history lover unlike so many other Daughters.  I invited a colleague of mine who teaches US History down the hall from me to speak at our local meeting that year.  His portrayal of the men and women of colonial America was so real and tied to so much emotion that I instantly became a fan and wanted to learn more.  He recommended that I read “Liberty the American Revolution” by Thomas Fleming.  I went straight to the library and read it cover to cover within a week.  If it enlightened me by revealing the bravery that early Americans displayed for independence and democracy, then it will surely inspire many, many more.  Purchase a copy of the book and donate it to your local library.  Check to see if they already have a copy of it before you donate.

9.  Give Someone a Gift Subscription to American Spirit – Any history lover would love this magazine.  Six issues a year will showcase our American History in unique and relevant ways.  Check it out at .  You can also donate a copy to your local library.  You can purchase it online.
10.  Adopt-an-Object or Sponsor Camp at the DAR Museum – The DAR Museum is one of the most prominent American decorative arts museums in the country.  Located a few blocks from the White House in Washington, DC, it is open to the public.   It offers educational programs to schools, families, Scouts, and children during summer camps.  Consider donating to the “Museum Camper Buddy Program” to help run their programs.  Perhaps you would rather adopt an object at the museum.  Just contact the Museum Office at 202-879-3241, or email for more information.  
I like the quote by Albert Einstein, “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”  I hope you and your family find a way add value to your life and to make the world brighter for someone else this Christmas.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

“I’m a Collector” – 5 ways to make a postive impact without leaving your home

If you collect stamps, you are known as a philatelist.
If you collect books, you are known as a bibliophile.
If you collect coins, you are known as a numismatist.
If you collect postcards, you are known as a deltiologist.
If you collect teddy bears, you are known as an actophile.

There are names for almost anyone who collects almost anything: umbrellas, shells, thimbles, cheese labels, ties, corkscrews, bird’s eggs, pearls, autographs, sugar packets…

I used to collect dolls from around the world when I was a child.  That would have made me a “plangonologist”.  Now, my daughter plays with them, so it isn’t much of a collection.  I began a new collection within the last 20 years.  I collect periodic tables from around the world.  I wonder if there is a word for this other than “nerdy”?  I doubt it.

Most recently, I have been collecting other things, quite ardently I admit.  The funny thing about my most recent collections is that I don’t keep them for very long.  I find them and then give them away.  Let me tell you about them.

1.  Box Tops for Education – Each time I cook a meal, I seem to find one of these labels on a can or box.  It is easy to remove the label.  Most of the time I am taking the label off a can or cereal box anyway to recycle it.  I take off the label and collect it in an empty canister.  Today, as I made lunch, I found one on my Progresso Soup Can.
My soup can had a Box Top$ for Education label on it.
Both DAR Schools gladly accept the Box Top$ for Education from DAR members.
They can be used to purchase computers, books, playground equipment and much more.  If you don’t know much about the DAR Schools, take a look:  and .  They positively change the lives of children every day.  Ask your DAR School chapter chairman to start collecting them at your meeting.  She can then send them once a month to either school.  Don’t forget, they have an expiration date, so be sure to send them soon.  Here are the addresses to make it convenient for you.

Kate Duncan Smith DAR School
6077 Main Street
Grant, AL 35747

Tamassee DAR School
P.O. Box 8
1925 Bumgardner Drive
Tamassee, SC 29686
2.  Labels for Education – The DAR Schools also accept the UPC labels and lids from participating Campbell products.  The KDS DAR School uses them to purchase computers and software.  The Tamassee DAR School hopes to purchase needed vans for student transportation.  Collect them at your meetings and send them to either of the schools at the addresses previously shown.
My lunch today also used a product that had a Campbell’s Labels for Education, and it wasn’t soup!  It was my bread.  Keep an eye out for these labels…they are everywhere it seems. 
My bread has a Campbell's Labels for Education label on it.
3.  Plastic Bottle Caps – Our State Conservation Chairman started a contest last year.  The chapter that recycled the most plastic caps would be recognized at state conference.  I have been a ‘recycler’ for almost 10 years now, rinsing my bottles and cans and taking my newspapers to the community ‘bin’.  However, I didn’t understand the need to recycle the plastic bottle caps separately, so I did a little research.  Apparently, the tops to my water and soda bottles are made of a different plastic than the rest of the bottle.  This means that all the tops that I threw into the regular recycle bin probably ended up in the landfill.  So, now I have a separate canister for my caps.  If you want to find out where to recycle your plastic caps, just go to and enter ‘#5 Plastic Caps’ for Find recycling centers, and for near, enter your zip code  and click ‘Search’.  This will give you a listing of places that recycle plastic caps within a 25 mile radius of you.   

4.  Ink Cartridges – Did you know that several of the DAR Schools accept empty computer ink cartridges as donations?  You DAR Schools Chairman may contact each of the schools to determine how to submit these ink cartridges.  They will submit them to companies that give them cash rebates.  It doesn’t cost anything to ship these cartridges, either!   

Kate Duncan Smith DAR School
(256) 728-4236

Tamassee DAR School
(864) 944-1390

Recycle your ink cartridges.
5.  Cell Phones – This is my smallest collection, but it is nonetheless, an important one.  There is a nonprofit organization that was started by two teenagers.  They collect used cell phones.  They sell them to a recycling company and then use the money to purchase phone cards to give to soldiers.  According to their web site: “Cell Phones for Soldiers is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing deployed and returning troops cost-free methods to communicate with family while serving in the United States military.”  Do you have any cell phones to recycle?  You can check this organization out at
If your chapter would spread the word,
I am sure you could get quite a few to donate their old cell phones.
So, as DAR members, we say we want to make a positive difference in the world around us.  These are five ways for you to start making a difference, whether you attend a chapter meeting or not.  Become a collector, and make a positive difference in your world today.  Oh – and there’s a word for this kind of collector…“Daughter”. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Junior Membership - How to Gain and Maintain

Today was Pennsylvania’s Fall Meeting where everyone in the state is encouraged to attend and learn from educational workshops.  As state Junior Membership Chairman, I was asked to present a session on “Sweet Success with Junior Membership”. 

(Thank you to Becky Osbourn for the title slide.)

The goals of the workshop were simple:
1.      Understand the role that Juniors have in the longevity of our organization.
2.      Describe ways to gain new Juniors into a chapter.
3.      Develop a strategy to make your current Juniors more active members.

1.  The role of Juniors
Having this opportunity to present this workshop supported my belief that this organization needs to grow in order to continue the great work that our ladies do on a daily basis.  This venue afforded me that platform to stress our state Junior Membership motto, “Juniors are the KEY to the future of Pennsylvania DAR.”
It disturbs me to know that there are chapters that have fewer and fewer meetings each year due to a lack of interest while other chapters are thriving.  What is their secret to success?  How can we spread some of this ‘magic’ around to all the chapters?  Well, it isn’t magic, it is just a consistent effort to gain the younger members and to help them become active.

2.  Gaining new Juniors
There are several ways to gain Junior members into your chapter.  Be sure to do the obvious – enroll your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, or family members.  I joined just to honor my grandmother and then look what happened…I fell in love with the great things our organization does for the world around us.  Another opportunity to find Juniors lies in your co-workers, neighbors, or even the friends of other Juniors in your chapter.  Go ahead and tell those around you about the great things we do.  Invite them to a meeting.  You would be surprised how many people have never really understood our organization and want to find out more.  You can also begin by forming a relationship with your local C.A.R. society.  DAR is the next logical step after C.A.R. and too many girls don’t realize they can continue serving their community as women.

3.  Making your Juniors active
This is where we spent the most time in our discussion.  I narrowed it down to a three-fold process:
A.    Make it convenient!
B.     Make it worthwhile!
C.     Make it fun!

A.   Make it convenient! – Juniors lead such busy lives these days with school or work on top of family.  If being a member is not convenient, it places a burden on the member.  So, to make it convenient for a Junior…
·         Offer a ride to the meeting.
·         Have a “$20 off your first year’s dues” offer.   Someone suggested free first year’s dues… but with a very successful chapter, this can be a large investment.  We will have a total of 7-8 new Junior members this year in my chapter, the Jacob Ferree Chapter.  That would be a lot of money.
·         Hold your meetings on Saturdays.  Ladies, no one wants to hear this one since no one likes change.  But having your meetings during the normal work week is like the kiss of death.  No working woman, which most of your Juniors these days are, is going to take a day off of work once a month to attend a DAR meeting.  Those days off are reserved for family and special needs.  Our chapter used to have about 10 members at a meeting with about 70 total members – on Tuesdays.  Now that our meetings are on Saturdays, we have close to 40 at a meeting with a membership approaching 130.  Rip it off like a Band-Aid, ladies, and just make the change.  People hate change, and many members will hate this change, but it is an investment in the future of your chapter.  Trust me.  Just do it.
·         Have a family inclusive event (potluck, picnic, benefit, cemetery clean up…).  If they can bring their kids, they are more likely to come.
·         Arrange for a babysitter.  Perhaps another member has a teenage daughter that would be willing to come and watch all the younger children during the meeting. 
·         Pass a “We love our Juniors” can to help support your pages.  Juniors are usually on the low end of the pay scale in any business.  So, to have that financial support to attend your state conference or Continental Congress will go a long way in encouraging them to take that step and volunteer.
·         Add a line in your chapter’s budget to support your pages.  Many of the pages I meet tell me they never would have paged if their chapter would not have paid part of their way.

B.  Make it worthwhile! – As a Junior once told me, “I feel valued and can add value.”  If your Juniors feel like they are in integral part of your chapter, they will help your chapter flourish.
·         Assign committee leadership aligned with her interests.  Find out what she loves…is it gardening?  Bam!  There’s your new conservation chairman.   Is she descended from an American Indian?  Wham!  There’s your new American Indians chairman.
·         Ask her to help lead a program based on her talents or skills.  Too often we see our Juniors as “young” and inexperienced, but they often have talents and skills we don’t possess and it goes unrealized. 
·         Create programs that are of interest across age boundaries.  Don’t have a program on “Dealing with your retirement.”  How about a great Women’s Issues program.   We are all women.  We all have issues, right? J
·         Mentor your Juniors so they realize the value of their time investment.  This one is huge.  More experienced members need to keep in contact via phone, email, or Facebook with your Juniors.  Share your magazines with them.  Get them an invitation to page and help them complete their paperwork for it.  Sit with the Junior you are mentoring at your meeting.  Introduce her to everyone. 
·         Show them that they are important…value them.  Why not recognize one of your Juniors as your Chapter Outstanding Junior?  Give them a KEY lapel pin to tell them they are the KEY to the future of DAR.  Take them to the next fundraiser in your area as your guest.
·         Foster friendships for them with other Juniors…friendships that last a lifetime.  Encourage them to page at your local state conference and then Continental Congress.  A Junior that pages is a Junior that grows into a leader.

C.  Make it fun! – This applies to maintaining all membership.
·         Plan a “Ladies Night Out”.
·         Connect your Juniors with other Juniors in your chapter or in the state.  Let one of the active pages in your state know about your new or inactive Junior and the connection will be made.   It sometimes takes a Junior to entice a Junior.
·         Talk to your Juniors!  Get to know them and their interests.
·         Be open to new ideas.  We recently marched, in colonial costume, in the local Memorial day parade for the first time in decades.  We had a large Junior turnout.  I am trying to convince my Juniors in my chapter to get the local news to do a story on us skydiving while holding our DAR banner!!!  (I am pretty sure this has never been done before.)

I believe today’s workshop was successful.  The three goals were fulfilled.  Now, having every member in PA support their Juniors is a job for the membership.   I gave everyone a “Commitment Card” with a list of all of these ideas.  I asked the ladies to commit to at least one, if not many, of the concepts presented.  Only time will tell.  Let’s see how we do.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Continental Congress - See you there!

Every year, thousands of daughters from around the world travel to 1776 D Street NW in Washington, DC for what I consider to be one of the best weeks of the year – Continental Congress.  It is a week-long celebration of the DAR’s annual accomplishments and positive impact we had upon our communities.  It is held at the DAR complex that takes up an entire city block.  There are workshops, forums, luncheons, and dinners that one may attend to learn more about committees and awards.  Each state regent gives inspiring reports of her state’s highlights of the last year.  Every committee chairman also gives a report, praising members, awarding prizes, and urging daughters to ‘do more’ in the coming days.  It is truly a learning experience that motivates all of us to aspire to do greater good through our chapters.

At our most recent chapter meeting, Continental Congress was discussed.  Having attending this event for the past five years in a row, I urged my chapter members to make plans for 2012.  The more members that attend, the more active our chapter will become.  The DAR reserves rooms at the JW Marriott Hotel, only a few blocks away from the DAR building, for a low DAR rate.  They then open up the rooms to the members on October 23, 2011, at 4:00PM for reservations…and they sell out fast!  Only an hour or so later, and you may be staying at another hotel nearby, away from all the action. 

The JW Marriott is bustling with DAR ladies attending dinners and events.

The DAR owns an entire city block, just a few blocks from the White House.  In fact, if you walk from the hotel to the hall, you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, taking photos along your way.  Inside this historical landmark, is a plethora of unique rooms and hallways.  History is everywhere, on the walls and in every nook.  You should choose to visit the award winning DAR Museum and the 31 Period Rooms, showcasing American furnishings and decorative arts prior to 1830.  Be sure to make a trip to the Americana Room, displaying early American manuscripts and imprints.  Many Daughters spend countless hours in the DAR Library, one of the largest genealogical research centers in the United States.

The DAR Library is a great place to find your lineage. 
I took this photo during Continental Congress two years ago.

The DAR Library houses over 25,000 compiled and published family histories on several floors.

When you aren’t doing research or touring the building, many women find time to shop and learn.  There are many booths set up for our enjoyment to purchase patriotic items, support the President General’s Project, and learn more about the DAR Schools. 

Some of the items for sale are almost irresitable.

The majority of your time will likely be spent attending the official meetings in Constitution Hall.  There is no way to describe the intense patriotic feeling one gets when “Stars and Stripes” is played for opening ceremonies and the hall is full of excitement!!!  I know women who have been attending for decades and it still sends chills through them.  The evening sessions are formal, so the glitz and glamor is quite a sight!   

The historic Constitution Hall was built in 1929.  This photo is during one of the day sessions.

I have made plans already to attend Continental Congress June 25-July 1, 2012.  In fact, I believe that we may have a total of seven women from our chapter attend.  This includes three ‘first-timers’ and three pages.  Can you imagine the motivation our chapter will have upon the return of these leaders?  The possibilities are endless.

So, the time is now to make your decision.  Are you IN or are you OUT?  To really get the fullness of the experience, you need to start making your plans today.  I suggest that you volunteer for something while you are there.  Perhaps you want to serve during the day on the House Committee, helping the ladies outside the main hall find what they need.  Another option is to serve inside the hall in tiers, seating everyone for the events.  During the formal processions, daughters are needed to line the hallways as a corridor hostess, sealing off the processional line.  Make plans to attend the Junior Luncheon, the largest attended meal, or the Overseas Luncheon with their international bazaar.  Don’t forget…if you are under 41 years of age, you can page.  That is another experience in itself that is wonderful!!!!!!!!  You make lifelong friends.  If you are in this age category, ask your regent for more information (and I will see you there...I page, too!) 

If you have any questions whether you should attend or not, feel free to contact me: . 

Everyone should plan to go at least once.  It is an experience that you won’t want to miss and might just change your life and ultimately, the lives of those in your community.

Feel free to share this blog with anyone you may think is interested in attending Continental Congress.  I really hope to see you there!

To look at photos inside DAR Headquarters, visit:

To take a virtual tour of parts of DAR headquarters, visit:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Program Ideas

Our DAR meetings are fun.  Really, they are.  I look forward to them each month.  Everyone who comes seems to laugh and talk and feels that it was worthwhile to give up time at home.  We get between 30-40 at a meeting, depending on the month.  We always have them on Saturdays in order to accommodate the working woman and hold them at a local country club.  We start off with the regular meeting and ritual.  We get almost all of our regular business done, and then we have lunch promptly at noon.  Just when the last of us are served dessert, we often start up again.  Through the clinking of the spoons, we finish our business and then introduce our program.  Having a program that will appeal to all the members is difficult but not impossible.  Over the years, our chapter has had some great ones.  One of the ‘rules’ that we obey is to “keep it short”.  No more than 20 minutes.  We are glad to give up our time for our chapter, but none of us want the day completely spent.  If you follow this rule, all your programs will in some way, interest your membership.

This may be too late for this year for some of you, but here are some of my favorite chapter programs that I have seen over the years:

·         Historical Preservation, “Show and Tell” – ask members to bring in an item they own that has historical significance.  They will stand and present their item and why they brought it.  One woman in our chapter is a mid-wife and she brought her antique ‘birthing chair’!  Another brought a family quilt that had been made generations ago with sewn signatures.  You get a different program every time with some amazing stories.  Everyone loves to show off a piece of their favorite history.

·         Constitution Week – ask a local high school teacher to speak about how the constitution is taught in the school system today.  Perhaps this U.S. History teacher may also be your next nominee for the Outstanding US History Teacher Contest.
·         Women’s Issues – ask a nurse to visit and talk about health care for women such as annual mammograms, healthy eating, staying heart healthy, and exercise.  Or perhaps you could have a stress management meeting with someone leading relaxation techniques.  If you do this one after you eat, watch out – you may have some nappers on your hands.
·         Genealogical DNA Testing – ask a local biochemistry professor to speak about genealogical DNA testing, how it is done, and how reliable it is.
·         History of your Local River – ask a local steamboat captain to speak at your meeting about the history of your local river.
·         Conservation Luncheon – ask a local beekeeper to teach you about bees and how they are important to our agriculture.   The one we had even brought in some sample beehives (empty of course!).
·         Junior Membership – We are celebrating 75 sweet years of the Junior Membership committee.  Why not have a celebration at one of your meetings?  Invite a local bakery to show your group how to decorate cupcakes since Juniors are so “Sweet”.  Start off with just the cupcakes and then have an icing decorating class.  Fund raise during the meeting to support your juniors financially at the next state conference.
·         Junior Membership – Another ‘sweet’ idea…invite a local jeweler to talk about jewelry, which is like the sweet frosting we wear!  Fund raise during the meeting to support your juniors financially at the next state conference.  Perhaps you can auction off a piece of jewelry if you can find someone to donate it.

If you are looking for a program for your chapter, don’t forget to go to the Program Committee page on the Members’ Web Site to see a huge list of great ideas for programs.  You also have a Speakers Staff available, both national and state.  Check your directory. 

I wish you luck on a wonderful year!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Historic Preservation

I’ve been losing sleep lately.  I haven’t been sick.  I haven’t been stressed.  There hasn’t been any big changes in my life.  I have just been thinking about a house.  How can a building make me lose sleep?  Well, this isn’t an ordinary house.  This is the home of my dreams! 

Almost two decades ago, very good friends of ours purchased a house and barn that was in need of updating and repairs.  It sits on 10 acres of land with woods, fields, three ponds, and a spring house.  It is in Washington County, Pennsylvania, only 25 minutes from our current home.   The updates and repairs that they performed are incredible.  Everything is redone.  We have watched them pour their retired lives into this home, making it have every modern convenience while still keeping its original charm.  Last week they put this piece of paradise up for sale.  Sounds good so far, right?   Here is the part that stops most people.  It was built in 1790. 
This is the completely restored home built in 1790 by William Wolfe, a revolutionary war patriot.

This is thee completely restored barn next to the drive way.

The house I live in today was built in the 1960s, and on the days when the floors creak or the bathroom faucet leaks, I think “This house is old!”  Imagine the problems that could arise from a house over 200 years old.  But, I would have been willing to brave the difficult times of house repair and maintenance to have a small glimpse into the past and experience life like it was (with air conditioning and a dishwasher, of course).

Would my living in a house like this be considered historical preservation, one of the objectives of the DAR?  According to the Historic Preservation Committee web page,
“The Historic Preservation Committee encourages chapters and state societies to actively participate in historic preservation to preserve the past, recognize individuals or groups who voluntarily participate in historic preservation to enhance the present…”
If I lived there, I would certainly continue to maintain the quality of the home and repair things when needed.  I could see my family taking one week during the summer to “live like colonials” without any technology or modern conveniences.  We could drink from the spring and fish in the ponds.  All we would need would be a cow, and we would be set.  What fun it would be…we are adventurous! 

This may not be the kind of historic preservation that would win an award at Continental Congress, but it certainly is worthwhile.  Of course, I would have it easy.  I didn’t have to do the renovation, but I would have to maintain the house.  In time, I wonder how many dwellings like this will remain in our country?  I am glad we have people who care about preserving the past.

My husband and I discussed it for days.  To move to a new school district, and add 20 more minutes to his commute which is already over one hour, was too much for our family.  We would have to pass over this opportunity.  I felt like a stalker, though, constantly checking its listing, reviewing the photos over and over again.

I guess I have good news, though.  The house sold for their asking price today to someone who has loved the house longer than I have.  At least I will be sleeping better at night.

This is the view from the back that includes the spring house.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chapter Revitalization

In Pennsylvania, we currently have 99 DAR chapters.  A large number, compared to most states in the nation, I suppose.   Although it puts us just under the number 100, the required number of chapters to be classified as a ‘large’ state.  Since my membership ten years ago, I have been aware of a few chapters that disbanded or merged with other chapters due to decrease in membership or loss of interest.  I have only seen the creation of one chapter in my state during that time.  Looking back on our state history, we have had over 50 chapters disband, with the first one in 1908.  That doesn’t even count the ones that have merged.  When I discovered this statistic, I was shocked!

What happens to those daughters from a chapter that disbands or merges?  They may become Members At Large, they may transfer to another chapter, or they may resign.  Unfortunately, many of them end up resigning or being dropped from our roll due to lack of interest or a lack of feeling connected to a new chapter.    

This weekend was our annual district workshop, led by our District Director.  One of the sessions, given by our State Organizing Secretary, provided the participants a time to discuss how to revitalize our chapters to avoid these problems.  Here are some of the very good ideas that were shared.

·         Hold your meetings on Saturdays in order to allow the working woman, and often Junior, to attend.
·         Vary your chapter meeting location to hold the interest of your members.  Take field trips.
·         Promote your programs.  Get everyone excited to attend.
·         Use your chapter members’ talents when considering programs.  A member that presents is one that is involved.
·         Keep your chapter meeting dates the same for consistency.  For example, meet the second Saturday of each month.
·         Provide opportunity for members to participate in all three of our objectives: Historic Preservation, Education, and Patriotism.  Make your chapter have ‘Something for Everyone’.
·         Don’t neglect your older membership.  Create a hospitality committee to visit the shut-ins or the ones in a care facility. 
·         Gather a team of chapter members to help the Registrar.  Often times, prospective members are overwhelmed when asked to find documents to prove their lineage.  Not every applicant enjoys research.  If your team of genealogists can find the documents for the prospective member, it is more likely she will join before she loses interest.  Also take advantage of your Lineage Research Chairman in your state.  She may be able to help find proof as well.
·         Get your new members involved right away:  put them on a committee or make them a chairman.
·         Create a “Daughter to Daughter” program among your members, having an active member adopt an inactive member and keep in touch with her.  She should invite her to meetings and send correspondence to her via mail, email, or telephone.  Birthday wishes are also nice.
Your chapter does not have to do all of these suggestions to be successful.  However, you may want to adopt one or two of these strategies to begin your revitalization in membership.  Does my chapter do all of these things?  No.  However, we have made some positive changes recently.  We are growing with over 55 new members in the past two and a half years.  I have a feeling that my chapter, the Jacob Ferree Chapter, will be around in the far future.  Good thing, because I plan to pass my pins onto someone special someday, and I truly hope she will be able to wear my Chapter Bar.    
An example of a Chapter Bar...not my chapter, but someone's. <grin>