“The coming year, oh my God, I give to Thee. I welcome all it holds and I am glad!”
Mary Virginia Merrick
A wonderful convention and a fond farewell
First I have to apologize for the gap between this blog and my last. On July 28th, I fell down one simple step and fractured my ankle in three places. Surgery followed a week later and that was followed by basically bedrest for 5 weeks then moving with the aide of a wheelchair for several more. As of today, I can still only partial weight bear with a walker. But that did not stop me from attending convention in Milwaukee in September!! My family thought I should stay home. My daughter and mom were so worried about me traveling but my husband knew how important it was to me so he did not give me any grief! So, my knee scooter and I traveled to Milwaukee and I am so glad that I did!
Convention 2018 was fantastic! The Pfister Hotel was such a perfect setting for our meeting and dinners! Truly beautiful (and very kind to handicapped individuals!) The Milwaukee chapter was so generous to us with the wonderful reception they hosted on Thursday evening, making Mass arrangements at the Cathedral and dinner plans at the Wisconsin Club on Saturday evening. Also, it was wonderful to see so many chapters represented and especially the large number of attendees from our Wisconsin chapters!
We wanted to make sure we were not all work and no play so once again an excursion was planned for all interested attendees-a Milwaukee sightseeing tour! Although I was not able to experience it first-hand (not handicap accessible!), from the pictures I saw and the stories told, everyone really enjoyed seeing the culture and breweries of Milwaukee!
The theme for 2018 was “Sustaining our Mission” and the seminars offered were all geared to helping our chapters do just that. Our seminars began on Thursday and centered around communications. Our Immediate Past President at the time, Anne Kelley’s seminar “What Makes a Photo Great” taught us how to take a great photo that will tell our story well and encourage action when people view them. This was followed by “Let’s Communicate” presented by incoming President, Carol Pickle and President-Elect, Molly Fanning. This seminar covered how to post to social media effectively and here is where those great photos you learned to take will come in handy! They also taught the attendees how to plan and organize more effectively using and a communications calendar.
After breakfast Friday, our day began with our Keynote speaker, Matt Deevers, PhD, whose seminar “Seeds to Trees: Cultivating Persistence in Ourselves, Our Chapter and Our Programs, was innovative, interactive and very well received. Our Program committee led by Beth Barrett, VP, presented “Beyond the Book Drive” which was geared to help chapters understand what a literacy program should be, how to start one or how to improve the one you have. Their workshop that followed used chapter representatives from the Sarasota, Albany and Washington, DC chapters to share with the attendees how their chapters took their literacy program to the next level and members just love hearing from other chapter members about their successes!
Friday evening’s reception is always highly anticipated due to the raffle display we always put on and this year’s raffle was no exception! Thank you, Past National President, Maureen Wesley and to all the chapters and board members who donated raffle items!
Saturday morning began with our Annual Business Meeting. Congratulations went to the Monterey Bay, CA chapter as they received their charter. The Monterey Bay chapter, led by Anne Kelley, has grown and become so much more impactful in their community in two short years! The first seminar of the day was “Don’t Stop Believing: Successful Strategies to Grow Membership” facilitated by Loretta Haugh and presented by the founding members of our three chapters in formation: Patricia Gonzalez of Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, Rebecca Smayda of Greater Binghamton, NY and Chuck Alfano of Western Massachusetts.
They were truly an inspiration to listen to and we could all tell that we have three very strong chapters forming that are doing all the right things to succeed and we wish them the best of luck! The membership committee led the next seminar, “Invite, Involve and Invest: Mobilizing Members to Get New Members”, facilitated by Mary Jo Dawson, Melanie Mbuyi and Jean Phelan. Again, it was a chance for chapter members to work in small groups, talking to each other, sharing what is working or what they need help with then sharing this information with the larger group. Always a great way to share ideas and learn from each other!
The last seminar of the day was “How to Fundraise Like a Pro” presented by myself and Carol Pickle. We aimed to address all the issues you need to be informed on when starting a new fundraiser or adding to an existing one. This was followed by a “Speed Dating” session with chapter representative from Akron, Denver, Pasadena, South Bend, Toledo and Tucson sharing information on their very successful fundraisers! I want to say thank you again to all our chapter representatives that presented at Convention 2018. We appreciate all the hard work you put into your presentations and we know that all the attendees loved hearing from you!! And just a reminder that all the convention seminar material is posted on our website if you were unable to attend the convention or if you want to use any of the material within your chapters-which we hope you do!
Saturday night was the culmination of not only our convention but of my presidency as well. Bittersweet to say the least…we attended a beautiful Mass at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist. I must say thank you again to the Milwaukee chapter’s spiritual advisor, Reverend Robert Gloudeman for con-celebrating the Mass with Archbishop Listecki and installing our new 2018-2020 Board of Directors on Saturday evening. It was a beautiful celebration.
Dinner at the Wisconsin Club was wonderful but the real highlight of the evening was the various awards we gave out. The Mary Virginia Merrick Award was given to Roseann Anderson, Patty Myler and Joan Watkins. I have had the pleasure to work with all of these ladies and their awards are very well deserved. They are an inspiration to all of us! Congratulation to the Red Wagon Grant recipient, CCS of Fort Wayne, IN, for their fabulous Reading Rangers program, to CCS of Atlanta, GA, who received the Membership growth award and CCS of Central Illinois and Quad Cities as they celebrated their 10th anniversary, and CCS of San Diego, their 25th!
Then it was time for good-byes and thank you to the 2016-2018 board and hello and good luck to the new board, led by incoming President, Carol Pickle. I know how hard working all of you are so I have no doubt that the next two years will bring much growth to our organization. I look forward to working with another devoted group of ladies! Thank you for allowing me to serve these past two years-this experience has blessed me beyond words.
I want to end with a quote I found in a beautiful book that one of my board members gave me. The book is entitled “365 Saints Your Daily Guide to the Wisdom and Wonder of Their Lives”. I hope one day we will see Mary Virginia Merrick in just such a book!
“Celebrate each day as a new beginning and a fresh start”.
NCCS Immediate Past President