Good morning. Thank you for asking me to serve as your Vice President General for 2017-2018. Our district is the largest and I firmly believe the best in the SAR. We do more toward the mission of the SAR than any other district. Larry said I could talk up to 15 minutes in my speech but since this is breakfast I felt just a few remarks would be better. As I look at the upcoming year, we have several tasks before us that we need to address. To begin, each of the four states in our district are led by very capable Presidents who will set the direction for their states and led them in addressing the missions of the SAR. We should have a great time at the awards night in Houston in 2018.
I believe we can look at the upcoming year by addressing three strategic objectives that will led us forward. These are not new to you, but I believe we must remind ourselves of their importance as we look into the future. These three strategic objectives are:
- Recruiting new members
- Retaining members
- Training members for their jobs
I like to talk about these three strategic objectives as the individual projects we do should all fit under one or more of these objectives.
First, recruiting new members. As you know, we lose approximately 10% of our membership each year due to death and drop outs. We must continually replenish these lost members just to stay even and recruit more to grow. We grow by starting new chapters, recruiting new members by one on one recruiting and I believe by having a strong youth programs where we can expose our organization to many new individuals. You may not have thought about the youth programs as recruiting tools but they are and can be great sources for meeting new men who are interested in history and our patriot ancestors. The efforts underway for the new web site will allow a great audience to learn about us and what we do. The museum will tell the story of our country’s founding to a greater audience.
Second retaining members. Men stay in an organization, I believe when they feel they are prepared for and cared for. The new mentor program is an example of this concept and is a program every chapter should have. Assigning a new member to a chapter committee or to assist in a chapter job shows the chapter has prepared for them and they are cared for. Having someone greet everyone at the door to a meeting and making sure they have a place to sit again shows they are cared for. Retaining members is an effort that requires creative thinking and a willingness to reach out and involve people in the chapter activities, and a willingness to try something new. A chapter’s retention rate is a clear indication of the health of that chapter and also tells about the health of the entire state.
Third training members for their job. We are an organization with much tradition which needs to be shared to someone new so they understand what is happening. Again, this is an opportunity to pass to someone your love of the SAR and the “why” you are involved. Conducting workshops at annual meetings and BOM meetings help train the next generation of leaders and helps them learn the ins and outs of the organization. Asking someone to assist in a small role in a grave marking helps them learn the ceremony protocol and starts to train them to be able to lead the ceremony in the future. Also, having an assistant for positions in a chapter allows for someone to learn rather than stepping into a job cold.
You will hear me talking about these three strategic objectives whenever I am around as I firmly believe they are what should guide us for the future.
I plan to attend the annual meetings of each state and as many of the major commemorations as possible this next year. If you have an event you specifically wish me to attend please let me know so I can put it on my calendar. In some months we have events in several states on each Saturday of the month. I will make myself available to you to assist in any way I can to help in your individual state projects. In case you are wondering, I have a weakness for BBQ and banana pudding.
On another subject, we will have a new district website in a few more weeks. This will be a site that is owned by the District and one in which the update responsibility will be passed from state to state as the representative of that state becomes the VPG of the District. This has been discussed with each of the state presidents so they are aware of this change. I want at this time to express my appreciation to Ed Rigel, Jr and Chuck Sweeny for their support of the district for the past two years. The new district secretary will be Gary Green from NC and the web master will be Corey Green from NC.
I also wish to thank Dr. Larry Fehrenbaser for his guidance in helping me prepare for the upcoming year.
Again, thank you for this opportunity to serve, and I look forward to visiting each state and attending as many activities as feasible.
James H Wood
Vice President General South Atlantic District