By Wendy Garrish, Member Resources Chair 2010-11
A few years ago, the amazing Naomi Chavez Peters, 2005-2006 JLPA-MP President and one of the most dynamic speakers/ trainers I have ever met, did a training for the Community Council on which I sat. One exercise was to draw a graph of our League careers. My memory may be a little fuzzy on this, but as I recall it the X axis indicated involvement and satisfaction with the League and the Y axis indicated the year. Surprisingly, in the case of everyone in the room, the graphs looked a bit like roller coasters.
Naomi challenged us to consider what was going on in our lives during these high-points and low-points. In some cases, high-points in the League correlated to more challenging times in one's personal life, as the League helped that person through a rough period. In other cases, the low-points correlated to the challenging times in one's life, as during those times the League felt like an extra "thing" to do. However, despite differences in when we were most involved in the League and most enjoyed it, we were all consistent in feeling that the League brought value and fulfillment to our lives over the years.
As you know, it is renewal and placement time for the League. Every year at this time I remember that exercise and consider why I keep renewing my membership. I have a gazillion other things going on, as I am sure you do, but this is what keeps me involved:
Impressive Women: I will be honest, some nights as I drive to the Gatehouse, particularly when it is rainy (quite often these days) or the traffic is bad, I do wonder why I keep doing it. But, without fail, I always leave with a renewed sense of dedication to the League. The caliber of women this organization brings together is astonishing. The 1,000 Active, Provisional and Sustaining members in our League is a very powerful network, and the personal and professional accomplishments truly amaze me. On the council on which I currently sit, we have wide range of interests and backgrounds, including a member who is a former FBI agent (!!!!). I am literally inspired every time I leave a League event.
Friendly Faces: Of course, at any JLPA-MP event, there are friendly faces, and the longer you have been around the more faces you start to recognize. It is always great to reconnect with former committee members and other friends at a General Membership Meeting and other events. But in addition to meeting new friends, through the League I reconnected with both a high school classmate and a sorority sister!
Aside from the obvious places you will find the friendly faces of the League, I run into Leaguers all over. Just the other day, I had to take my son to the doctor for a little emergency. It had been a stressful few hours. As we walked back through the waiting room to leave, I ran into another League member. I don't know her very well, but we recognized each other, and it was so nice to see a friendly -- and supportive -- face in an unexpected place. Later that afternoon, I ran into another Leaguer in the grocery store. It was a quick hello, as it was around dinner time and we both had kids with us, but without the League, the trips to Kid Kare and Lunardi's that day would have been far less fun and rewarding. The League has expanded my circle of friends and friendly faces considerably.
Outstanding Training and Organization: A couple of years ago, when I had just completed my 6 active years, I decided I was ready to go Sustaining. Then I got involved in a project at my son's school. It had all the makings of a great project; something in my community that directly affected me, a compelling mission, lots of money raised for education, and something close to home. But, it was missing great leadership. Throughout my years in the League, I have never been to a meeting that wasn't organized, that didn't have an agenda and follow-up minutes, and that wasted my time. I was shocked that other organizations don't run the way our League is run, and I promptly renewed my membership again that year!
Incredible Community Impact: In just the last 6 months I have met two new friends who work at organizations impacted by the League. In both cases, they told me they worked in places I likely hadn't heard of. As it happens, one is a teacher at EPACS (JLPA-MP project from 2003-2009) and the other works at Edgewood Kinship Support Services (JLPA-MP project from approximately 1999-2004). When I told them I know of their organizations because I am member of the League, they heaped praise on the great work we do and were so thankful for all the time, energy and resources we gave to them. So very gratifying to hear about the impact we make. Especially at Boot Camp at 6am!
As our April 1 deadline for renewal and placement looms, consider what value the League brings to you. Let me know -- are your experiences similar to mine? What else keeps you renewing your membership? Where are you on the roller coaster? If it is a low-point, please contact your Member Resources Advisor and talk through your options; I can almost guarantee we can help you find a placement or situation to help turn things around.