Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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President's Message
Presidentís Message: Approaching State Session

By Robert Buck, CT State Grange President

  JULY 1, 2023 --

We can all learn a lot just by listening to other what other people say. Maggie and I are friendly with a couple in our area. The gentleman of this couple has the misfortune to have metastatic prostate cancer for which he is receiving chemotherapy for several years now.  The treatment has a rather unpleasant side effect; however, the tradeoff is that he is still alive.

In talking to the wife one day this past winter, I was asking how the husband was. His wife said to me “I am so proud of <husband’s name>. He has taught me so much;” this being a reference to how he has dealt with his health problems. I got to thinking and realized that whenever I talk to the husband, I value the conversations so much. He came to the USA from another country, served in our military, and went on to have a rewarding career teaching. Despite his health difficulties as of late, he remains one on the most gracious and upbeat people I know. He is thankful for the life he has. I too learn from our conversations.

The importance of listening is brought home in the charge to the Master in our Grange Installation Ceremony wherein the Master being installed is cautioned by the installing officer to “Decide all questions with calmness and firmness, granting the right of appeal courteously, and abiding all decisions against you cheerfully.” Sounds like advice to listen and appreciate and learn from other’s opinions. I know we all want to do what is best for our Granges. Remember the importance of listening to others and respecting feelings and opinions. Compromise is better than members being ostracized with hurt feelings because a vote on an issue didn’t go their way. Leaders also ought to realize that important decisions should come to a vote rather than being decided unilaterally.

I want to encourage people to register for and attend State Session in Norwich. The attendance has been shrinking in recent years. It is your chance to observe the workings of the Connecticut State Grange and have an input in those workings. If you don’t like the way something is done, write a resolution on it. It is also a great time to connect with brothers and sisters from other Granges and the National Grange representatives and learn from them new ideas to try out in your own Granges. Also consider attending National Grange in Niagara Falls as it won’t be this close for several more years.

With the Eastern States Exposition, AKA the Big E, coming up, keep busy producing those items for sale in the Grange Building as they keep it going. Also, plan on attending the event, and spend some time sitting in the Connecticut room to greet visitors. It is a good way to connect with Grangers from the Northeast region.

I hear comments from time to time that some people don’t think the State and National Granges do anything for them. Budget considerations mean that materials are not sent out in the mail like 30 years ago from the various departments. However, if you go to the National Grange website, there are resources galore on programs, materials you can download, and Zoom meetings by the Membership/ Leadership and Communications Departments. The monthly meetings with Amanda Brozana- Rios and Phil Vonada from these two departments are great and these folks are willing to talk to you and help you in these areas. All you need to do is ask.

There is a plethora of benefits from National Grange; some may be of use and some not-check it out. The State Grange has the loan program available to allow Granges whose halls need repairs and improvements to borrow money at a low rate. There is also the bi-annual $1000 grant from the Connecticut State Grange Foundation.

This year, we offered the first ever Leadership Academy program. Turnout has been good, and I hope to continue this program in the future. Next time, I want to see even more people enrolled.

A recent Communications Department Zoom call focused on Granges having what is called a Community Action Roadmap. Some of you will remember years ago, a State Grange team traveled the state and talked to Granges about writing Mission Statements. This is in the same vein and requires some level of analysis on the part of the Grange. It involves ideas such as networking with other groups, the scope of your outreach in the community, and setting achievable goals.

Goals should be specific, relevant, attainable, and measurable. The process involves identifying community resources to achieve those goals. Publicity options figure into the process as well. The entire plan must be monitored so success can be measured and where goals aren’t met, you might need to step back, re-evaluate, and change plans to allow goals to be met in new timeframes. Remember that member retention can be as simple as expressing thanks and gratitude to reward hard work. Inviting non-members to help in projects even if they don’t actually join the Grange can be valuable community resource. Some may later decide to join. Above all, think outside the box.

Thank you all for the warm welcome received on each of my visits! Hank says thank you as well.



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