I recently returned from our National Conference 2019 – Energize, Inspire, Advance! where representatives from chapters across the country came together to chat, learn and share on a national level! I am always so energized when I leave with new ideas and new friends. I was reminded that, sometimes during our program year, we may need a little help to keep that energy going.
I don’t know about you, but I draw energy from our chapters and what they do on a day to day basis. Every time I read a newsletter or see a Face Book post, I am reminded of the boundless energy that our members possess. It’s not easy to collect items, pack and distribute 1600 layettes, or even 150 for that matter. It takes energy to go week after week, to read to a class or individual student. Manning the clothing distribution centers, not only takes time, but energy so that each child is given the time and attention they deserve to pick out that special outfit, shoes, and coats. The program planning, knitting, fundraising, donation drives, book deliveries are repeated year after year. Of course, the smiles and thank yous received are all that are necessary to reinvigorate us and get us excited for the next time or the next year! I have to share a couple of thank yous that came to me via the Pasadena Treasures Program. One lesson is on how to write thank you notes and the 5th graders are given their own monogramed stationery too! They practice with a note to the National CC President.
From Ivy – “Thank you for choosing our school and for having ladies teach us manners. I especially like Mrs. Crabtree and Mrs. Reaume.” Those two CC members certainly made an impression on one little girl!
And from Kenneth we get – “Thank you for giving us the nice Treasures program. Thanks for helping us teach manners. I can’t wait for the lunch trip. My favorite class was the boys got to tie a tie.” It’s the little things that can really make a difference!
Now I know it’s not easy to keep that energy up never mind instilling it your members. But I hope we can draw off one another remembering that we are not alone in this mission. We all recognize that if Mary Virginia Merrick was able to lay a foundation for this great organization with all of her difficulties, we can certainly do our part.
Funny thing happened as I was writing this…I looked at Face Book and saw this post from our Fort Wayne chapter “Great job ladies today! There were about 35 women who worked hard unpacking, detagging and repacking over 1500 coats in 2 hours’ time. Snacks and laughter were plentiful. We are all so excited to welcome the little children of our community and provide them with a brand-new coat in a couple of weeks.” It appears I may be preaching to the choir…
And now what keeps us inspired each and every year. We can, once again, go back to Mary Virginia Merrick, her life and her writing. Or, we can just, once again, follow the current happenings in our chapters. South Bend recently received some great media attention for the opening of their clothing center distribution cycle.
I am sure that everyone watching this clip will want to start a clothing center! We have other large undertakings such as the Christ Child House in Detroit and Girls on the Rise, here in DC. And our smaller scale programs are just as impressive and inspirational.
Let me tell you about Tucson. The principal at a school the chapter supports told Angela Schneider that one of the biggest needs he had was for a washer and dryer. Kids were coming to school in dirty clothes and, of course, did not feel good about themselves. Well Angela took action and contacted a local appliance shop and received a refurbished washer and dryer in about a week. Of course, what happens often when we find a need…we find another need. The school did not have the water and electrical hook ups for the appliances. Angela is now on a mission to get outside assistance to make that happen. Eventually, and I predict very soon, the kids will have their clothes laundered at school and oh what a difference that will make in their everyday lives.
We also have members as well as non-member volunteers that year after year lovingly make countless hats, blankets, bears and other items making sure that each layette recipient has something homemade…something that shows we care that much more!
Members in Atlanta tend to Elizabeth’s Garden as if it were their own, just to watch kids experience the wonder of God’s creations. And speaking of God’s creations…this is probably the only inspiration you need…these faces…
And just a reminder – these types of pictures and videos tell the Christ Child story.
Please remember to take good photos (and get releases) so that you can use them in future campaigns or PR. We would love to have them too in the National office. We like to highlight what our chapters are doing and the impact you all have in your local communities!
Finally, let’s talk about Advancing our mission. This year saw 3 new provisional chapters, which is a great achievement! In order to grow our impact, we need to add members and, more importantly, add chapters. We were lucky to get 3 individuals, along with their family and friends, to take the lead in establishing these new chapters. We know that there are more people just like them out there! This is where you all come in. If you know of a chapter member that has relocated to an area without a chapter nearby, or a relative or friend that loves our mission, please let them know that we can help them bring Christ Child to their community. They don’t have to do it alone. Chuck Alfano, from our provisional chapter in Western Mass, found us through the Vatican website. His chapter has taken a different approach and has actively recruited women and men as members. This is a new look for Christ Child that Mary Virginia Merrick would embrace as we adapt to current needs and situations. Patricia Gonzalez took her inspiration to start the chapter in Dallas Forth Worth, from her mother, Geri, who relocated from Pasadena where she had been a member. I hated to see Geri leave Pasadena but somehow new that she wouldn’t leave Christ Child too far behind. And Rebecca Smayda came to know about Christ Child after her aunt passed away. Her aunt was a very caring and humble individual and after reading about Christ Child, Rebecca knew that Binghamton would benefit from having such an organization in their community. Of course, it really doesn’t matter how you all came to Christ Child or what the look of our membership will be in the future. All that matters is that we continue and carry on the legacy of Mary Virginia Merrick. Last week, Dallas Fort Worth had a Face Book post that says it all – “We started in April 2018 and have grown to almost 40 members. Tonight was our new member orientation and I’m both humbled by how many folks are out there who want to make a difference, and motivated to grow our programs to bigger and better. These ladies are my friends and inspire me to throw myself out of bed at 5:15 to check emails…life is good”.
On the membership issue – at the National level we continue to brainstorm ideas and share success stories and methods. Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story, if we have energized and inspired members to carry out our mission. One woman with one wagon started this organization for one child! We continue to fight poverty, one child at a time. I am proud of the work we do and hope that you all leave this conference with a renewed sense of energy and inspiration that you will share with the rest of your chapter! Remember that you are not alone! We are unique chapters of a National organization. Let’s talk, share and draw strength from one another. Let us move forward together!
Thank you to all members who attended Conference 2019! We opened with a presentation on “The Legacy We Share” from Patty Myler (lots of great history on Mary Virginia Merrick). Our keynote speaker, Meghan Cox Gurdon, was quite inspiring in her presentation of “The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud” followed by a book signing session of “The Enchanted Hour”. We continued with a very informative talk on “Finding Grants & Proposal Writing for all Sized Chapters” by Elizabeth Madjlest of CANDID. Our education portion of the weekend was concluded with a Membership roundtable and a seminar on “Nurturing the Seeds of Success in the Children you serve”. If your would like any information on any of the above topics, please contact our National office.
Convention 2020 will be held at the Lowes Ventana in Tucson, on September 17th – 20th. We encourage all members to make plans to attend. A perfect time for a little getaway with your spouse, family members or friends!