When Gordon Lightfoot once wrote about â€œthe witch of November,â€ he was talking of the wind-laden storms of the Great Lakes. Those winds brought rain and waves that resulted in the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (Am I showing my age here?)
Southern California has her own witch: the Santa Ana winds.
This season those winds have brought grief and pain to many, on top of economic worries, foreclosures, and so many other things affecting our lives. I began to realize, once again, how lucky I really am. With that comes the realization how others have not fared so well, often through no fault of their own. My heart goes out to any of you who been directly or indirectly affected by the wildfires sweeping though our counties.
As our new board gathered for the first time to discuss the issues and opportunities ahead, one of the most heartfelt ones was the discussion of a Perseverance fund, based on National RWAâ€™s program, to provide the simplest of assistance that we as a chapter can offer, and that is to pay membership dues. Two potential candidates have already been brought to the Board, but our bylaws required amendments to create the fund and criteria to identify who is the â€œneediest.â€ Still, here we are, knowing that without our help theyâ€™re not going to be able to rejoin this year, and feel the support and encouragement of fellow writers on a regular basis. We, as individuals, are seeking ways to help these two at this time and also to create a future fund to assist others who find themselves in similar situations. Your ideas and suggestions are very welcome.
Another important aspect of our meeting was an introductory presentation by Carol Prescott, chairman of OCC/RWAâ€™s Strategic Planning Committee and committee member Julie Hurwitz . This planning process will provide us with an â€œumbrella approachâ€ to our efforts this year, as we tie everything we do to an overall effort to make this chapter the best one in the country, and make our members proud and happy to be a part of it. You will see a survey coming out in January that will give you the opportunity to tell this board, and future boards, what you want from your chapter. How can we better serve you? What are we not doing that we should? What will lure you back to meetings? (You know who you are! J) How can we ensure that the unpublished are getting as much attention as the published? Or vice versa? Please help us by giving your opinions.
The caveat here (thereâ€™s always one, isnâ€™t there?) is that to meet these identified needs, weâ€™ll need to ensure we have existing funds or necessary fund raisers. (Sheesh, Iâ€™ve mentioned money twice in six paragraphs!) So just to balance expectations against necessary funding, we may not be able to meet everyoneâ€™s needs right away. But thatâ€™s why we have a strategic plan: so that we can stair step our way towards providing the best that can be offered.
Speaking of funding, our new treasurer Laura has brought the concept of zero-based budgeting to the board to ensure that funds are not spent without conscientious review and thoughtful evaluation. She has strong, understandable data to start her process, thanks to the diligent efforts of Mindy Neff! Your new Communications directors Val & Johna are full of ideas, but are also careful to respect and fully understand the enormous effort that went into creating the new website last year (Thank you, Sabrina and Dana!) Your Public Relations duo of Eve and Debra are actively seeking new ways to publicize the efforts of our published authors (ooohâ€¦. Public, publicize, publishedâ€¦ somebody is going to send me a red-line copy yet!) They are building on the stellar efforts of Sandy & Michelle! (Thanks, ladies!)
We all set goals for ourselves, identifying at least one way we can improve the chapter. Marilee sat by Rowena all last year and learned the ropes. She is shooting to add 30 more members to the roster this year! Linda Prine & Laura Wright did a wonderful job with PAW last year, and have shared their thoughts with Deanna who is planning to improve relationships with local booksellers and find the formula to bring more PAW members back to meetings. Vicki is left the difficult job of filling the very big shoes left behind by Bobbie. (Youâ€™re awesome Bobbie!) However, Bobbie continues to be in the wings offering support and ideas! Liz Scott has the energy of three people as she follows Deb Mullins approach to seek new ways to raise funds. Barb DeLong is breaking ground in an entirely new position as she struggles to get those of you who are, and those of you who ought to be, PROs, the recognition and support that you deserve. Cheryl, as secretary, continues to be the ultimate trooper, trying to capture our less than linear lines of conversation and document it for posterity. Jann, Sue and I all switched hats, but weâ€™re still working together as a team to provide leadership and an environment of open communication with the Board and the members as a whole.
I think your volunteers, both last year and this, need a round of applause, or at least a thank you for their efforts. Perhaps when you see them at the next meeting youâ€™ll let them know how much you appreciate what theyâ€™re doing for you and your chapter.