In the last few President’s columns, I talked about being a sponge and how I’d absorbed some of the valuable information I’d received as a new inspector. This month, I’d like to talk about an opportunity I was offered as a newbie...my first chance to give back a little. At first, the opportunity looked more like a chore. In retrospect, it was one of the most beneficial breaks I ever got.
In April, 1992, I attended the Great Lakes Chapter (GLC) Seminar in Fort Mitchell, Ky., just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. After the 5-hour drive from Chicago, my family and I arrived at the Drawbridge Inn. The kids were frolicking at the pool with Mom and I was looking for the hospitality suite the GLC has every Friday night before a conference.
In the hallway, I ran into Brent and Joyce Harless from Hawthorne Woods, Ill. They were heading to the chapter Board of Directors meeting and asked me to join them. I’d be able to see firsthand how the chapter leaders got things done. The meeting was getting started, and all the seats were taken, so I just sat down on the floor against the wall and watched.
Aside from the chapter leaders, attendees who would rise to the top of ASHI leadership included Danny Maynard, Lon Grossman, John Geiger, Jay Balin and some obscure guy picking up lint from the carpet. The usual chapter business was conducted, but then Chapter President Dwight Barnett had some new business to discuss.
The GLC had grown considerably over the years, and it was getting difficult to know everyone. Dwight mentioned he was good at recognizing faces, but it was hard for him to remember everyone’s name. His idea was to have a photo directory of the chapter members. That way everyone could recognize who was who.
The Board of Directors agreed. All that was needed was a volunteer to head the new committee. Those of you who were in not the military may not have heard of the infamous “Hey, you” roster. Be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you joined that exclusive list. In order to avoid that, it was wise to blend in. Curled up on the floor in a corner is apparently not an inconspicuous location. Dwight looked at me and said, “Hey, you, how about looking into the cost of developing a photo directory of the chapter members and report back to the Board at the summer meeting in Novi, Mich.?”
Long story short, Dwight left all the details up to me. I learned how to organize pertinent information on hundreds of chapter members, get the correct information attached to the correct face and do it within a budget. It was a fun challenge, my first opportunity to repay some of the debt I owed to those who helped me succeed in my new career. It was time to wring the sponge out.
Those of you who haven’t had/taken the chance yet to give back to ASHI, just look around. There’s either someone in your chapter who needs help or there’s an idea out there that needs implementing. Leaders like Dwight Barnett are always looking for a few good sponges to wring.
If you haven’t viewed my monthly President’s Podcast yet, please do. Just go to the membership login and in the right column, you’ll see President’s Podcast. You’ll also get a chance to meet most of the 2007 ASHI directors.
The directors have asked for your questions and concerns. Talk to them. It’s your society.