The Winds of Change
The Winds of Change The eClub Concept Recswusa’s
First Year Report by President Judy
It’s interesting how the synchronicity of events evolve into a creative project. I was in the process of filling out host D5510 Achievement Awards when an email came in from the American Holistic Nurses Association requesting that would I, as a founding member, tell my story about the early days of the organization. In thinking about this request and having to remember those early days of 1980 I decided to share my view about what Recswusa’s first year was. By telling our eClub story now as we lived it might be fun and a way to orient new members into our club. This program, therefore, is a result of my process.
In 2001 the Rotary International Council on Legislation adopted resolution 01-226 to provide for cyber clubs. In June 2001, Decision 348, the RI Board agreed to support a pilot project establishing cyber Rotary clubs. The Key Elements for this project were: To extend Rotary to business, professional, and community leaders who are unable to meet traditional attendance requirements because of extensive travel, or conflicting occupational demands, or physical immobility, or resident beyond reasonable distance from an existing Rotary club. Web communities in this project would foster friendship and good will among its members and pilot clubs would determine the viability and effectiveness of a cyber Rotary club framework.
In November/December 2003 D5510 Governor Greg Podd was notified that his application for a cyber club had been approved. Greg asked me to spearhead this project because I had expressed interest in transferring to EclubOne due to health reasons. In January 2003 we, DG Greg and I, signed the Terms of Participation Agreement while at an organizational meeting attended by PDG Mel and Rotarian Karen who was also the D5510 webmaster. The Terms of Participation Agreement included that:
• We have our own eClub Constitution and Bylaws, which includes the Object of Rotary. • We must provide an online meeting makeup for Rotarians worldwide. • We must pay RI dues. We also pay Host D5510 dues (we do not have an eClub district as we are in a pilot project).
• We must maintain a web page. • We must meet on a regular basis using available electronic communication technology. • We share electronic member orientation and training materials with RI. • We must participate the full time of the Pilot Project.
In January, February and March 2004 Karen, Mel and I had organizational meetings to discuss web site development which included the online meeting format, constitution and bylaws based on a standard Rotary club C & B, but with an eClub concept, marketing the concept which included member retention, and a member application that would include former Rotarians, transferring Rotarians and new Rotarians. By early March, just in time for PETS, Karen had developed the web site, Mel created the
constitution and bylaws and submitted them to RI, Judy and Mel developed the club membership application, Inia, Judy and Mel created the marketing plan, and Barbara and Judy developed the marketing plan further for radio broadcasting.
By the end of March Glenda and Mel transferred out of their standard clubs to join Inia, Karen, Barbara and myself making us 6 members. Stephen, a former Rotarian, arrived on the scene and brought in Jonathan, Gary, Amy, Darin & Chad and then we had 12! Whew! ADG Gene Morga wanted to transfer from his standard club as he was retiring from practicing law, so he did - in participation, and legally joined the end of June. Jonathan asked his sister Luisa, a former Rotarian who lives in Johannesburg, SA to join us and we had 14! In this pilot project there is no set number of members to charter so we had all the components for chartering. At the end of April we produced our first online meeting. Our charter date was set at 1 April 2004 and our celebration of receiving the charter from DG Greg was at the D5510 conference in June. Beth joined us late summer and throughout this year Bob, Bill, Jim, Larry, Leny and Joe have joined us. We have one member on the west coast, two on the east coast, one in southern Arizona, one in western Arizona, four in northern Arizona. We now have almost half of our members outside of the Phoenix metro area. We are changing, growing and evolving.
As president, I report directly to Rotary International’s contact person for this Rotary E- Club Pilot Project which is the official name. The information I am sharing is from the recent report sent to our contact person. We now have 9 women and 12 men in our club. Two more potential member’s applications are in process so when that is finished we will have 23 members. One newest member is 29, four seasoned mature Rotarians are over 65, 8 are under 45, 8 are in their 50’s. Our classifications range from hi tech such as website maintenance and design, and an ISP, to marketing, business consulting, law, retired navy pilot, business entrepreneurs, minister, restaurant manager, to chamber of commerce president & bank officer. One of the questions in the report is “does age make the difference’? Yes, it does, because all of our younger members have the technology integrated. Most of our members have been in Rotary 5 — 10 years. 8 have less than three years in Rotary. A few of us have so many years in Rotary we don’t want to say!
We have evolved in supporting youth as part of our service. We sponsored 2 RYLA students last year and will have one this year. We sponsor an Ambassadorial Scholar, Ellan Whetten, who wrote an online program this last year. The commitment for her and for us is about 3 years, so we are really just beginning when she starts her school year this fall in Italy.
We also applied for a District Simplified Grant this year and received $650 for a project in South Africa. Thank heavens for Liz Lopez, D5510 Matching Grants chair for walking us through this. We should be filing our final report for this service in the next few weeks. The first week in September we held a virtual meeting with our D5510 Governor Gary Whiting. I believe this is a first for an eClub in this pilot project.
One of our strengths is our online meeting and another is our willingness to serve. Each member documents their service hours weekly using the Rotary Four Avenues of Service. We learn about how much we serve when we focus on this documentation. We found most Rotarians serve more than they realize, much, much more. Another
strength is that we attend as many of our host D5510 events as we can, including standard Rotary club meetings. Our eClub training is online and we have past & current district managers and training leaders in our membership. We feel, however, it is very important to also be a part of the district that supports us. I do not want to minimize that we have successfully retained Rotarians in Rotary and have provided membership for Rotarians who left for various reasons. They can now be serving in the way they are most comfortable. We have proven the value of this concept in this one area alone....membership retention.
Our challenges are creating new communication streams, updating and refining our website, (I could write paragraphs about our web site challenges and the talented, creative, persevering members who keep us alive), & keeping focused in a changing business climate.
I feel my role has been to be an observer for this pilot project as well as managing the club. Rotarians have asked me all sorts of interesting questions, but one of the main ones is “what does it take to be an eClub member”? I tell them, in my opinion, it is not for every one. The “bottom line” to be an eClub member is one has to know the technology and feel comfortable with it. One has to be very self reliant, take responsibility and READ! As I have observed our membership this year I see how much commitment it takes to be in this venue. One can feel really alone if socialization at a luncheon meeting is what a member needs. Others just love chat rooms and forums (our method of membership communication) and they would rather communicate that way than regular e-mail. Some members socialize via the forum in the middle of the night. For us mature folk with tiring eyesight, midnight is our max!
To our visiting Rotarians: You make my day and definitely our secretary, PDG Mel’s day. Your comments make all the time and effort worthwhile. You help us select programs, you give us feedback about your clubs, and you give us encouragement that we are providing a service that is needed. I feel blessed to read about some of your projects and the service that you provide on an individual, community and international basis. We receive this energizing communication on a daily basis and we thank you for your comments.
We have tried to provide programs that are not only of interest to our members, but also to our visiting Rotarians. We spend hours sometimes trying to be careful of how a controversial subject is presented so that we follow the Rotary precept that we present a balanced view. Not all of us agree with some subjects, but it is our intention to be as fair as we can. Most of all, we wish our programs to be informative.
What do I think the coming eClub challenges are? One challenge is how do we keep changing (web site) in a continuing changing business climate? How do we fulfill members’ service and social needs when most of our members are Rotary wide? I think that is coming and we need to be prepared. I think we have the service that each of us provides well thought out in concept, but the challenge is in implementing it. We are accepting the challenge of giving credibility to this concept.
We are the “Winds of Change”. We are here and we are creating the Rotary vision.