Commentary: New Members Are Critical to Our Future
Mike Stewart, Membership Committee Chairman
The American Rhododendron Society over the past 55 years has grown to become a world wide organization of rhododendron and azalea enthusiasts. Just a few years ago our membership reached some 6,000 strong. But sadly, we have been experiencing declining numbers in our membership.
This is not a fate that we should accept. Contrarily, we must make every effort, now, to build our membership and sustain what so many before us have struggled to create. Every organization needs to recognize that new members bring new ideas, new energy, and rejuvenation.
We are especially fortunate to have Dee Daneri as our Executive Director at this time in our history. She has the knowledge, enthusiasm, and foresight to recognize that increasing our membership must be a high priority. Her Campaign 1,000 has gotten the ball rolling, and Campaign 2,000 (2,000 new members by December 1999) should create momentum for the future. But, we must all accept the responsibility of carrying out these and other well laid plans. As she recently said, "Membership is the critical revenue development center of the Society; it keeps dues at a reasonable rate and funds our Journal."
Take a moment to recognize the many opportunities that surround you in bringing new members to the Society. The next time someone visits your beautiful garden express to them the fact that much of your knowledge and interest in developing your "little piece of heaven" came from your involvement in the ARS. Think about the many ideas that you have gleaned from chapter presentations over the years. Of course there are always birthday and Christmas gifts; and what better way is there to memorialize one of our departed friends than by giving a membership to a new friend.
Ideas are endless, but putting ideas into action and causing positive results takes conscious effort. Each of us must cross that line for the future stability and health of our wonderful rhododendron society. Don't be afraid to share with others what we so treasure and enjoy.