Guest blog post by Linda Tome, 2022-2023 National Membership Committee Chair
When I was a department Membership Committee chair, I would write weekly emails to be sent out with the data sheets from National and the department. I came upon this poem written by Joseph Servocky entitled, Do You Just Belong? and sent this with my updates:
Are you an active member,
the kind who would be missed,
Or are you just contented
that your name is on the list?
Do you attend the meetings
and mingle with the flock,
Or do you stay at home
and criticize and knock?
Do you take an active part
to help the work along,
Or are you satisfied to be
the kind who “JUST BELONG”?
Do you ever go and visit
a member who is sick,
Or leave the work to a few
and talk about the clique?
Think this over, member,
you know right from wrong,
Are you an active member
or do you JUST BELONG?
What kind of a member are you? When I think about this, it’s not a bad thing to be a member who just belongs — as long as you aren’t the one who is always criticizing those who do the work! Our membership numbers matter. When the ALA, Sons of The American Legion, or The American Legion go to Congress to advocate for our veterans, our membership numbers matter! If they notice our numbers are going down, that obviously will be a negative for our organization. And don’t think they don’t look at those numbers. I have firsthand knowledge that they in fact do and will question you as to why. That is not a good feeling or something that is easy to explain.
So, is it OK to just belong? I get it that you can’t attend everything our unit plans; I get it that you attend classes late at night; I get it that the meetings are in the evening, and you have young children so you can’t attend; I’m just happy you are a member. I’m happy I can call on you to bounce ideas off. I’m happy that if you are available, you do things at home to help prepare or help make items for an event and sometimes even cut out coupons.
I love it that our members signed up to honor a veteran and are the kind of people who are a part of a veteran’s life and understand the struggles they have gone through to keep us safe. They support our veterans and our American Legion Family. Yes, we have those members who like to stay in the social area a little more than others, but do you reach out to them to ask if they would be available for an event, or if they could bake a dessert for that steak dinner, or ask if they would help to pull numbers at bingo? They may not feel that they belong because nobody ever asks them personally to participate. But we can’t bully them and make them feel guilty about not participating; we may lose them. Yes, you send those emails asking for volunteers to help; however, how nice it would be if someone personally asked them to participate or do something to prepare for the next kids’ social event.
Kind of funny that I write on this topic because I was recently talking with a friend a couple months ago and we were talking membership. He pulled out his wallet with soooo many membership cards in it. I asked him if he was active in all those organizations. He said, “No, I just like being able to say I support this certain organization by being a member.” I then asked if he had one he was the most passionate about, and he told me the Corvette Club (needless to say, he has two Corvettes). He does participate in some of the meetings held close to his town and does participate in various outings, Christmas parties, etc. I asked him what he likes about the other organizations he belongs to, and he said he believes in their mission and what they do and likes to make donations to those organizations. Is that wrong? Nope! I LOVE it!
Nobody is “just” a member. No matter why
you became a member, you are a member.
Let’s keep our current membership and grow it by treating everyone as though they were an active member and include them in all you do!
So, although I asked what kind of a member you are, my answer would be that I support my veterans and I am a proud member of the American Legion Auxiliary!
Still need to renew for the 2022-2023 ALA membership year? Pay online
, pay by phone by calling (317) 569-4570, or mail your dues payment to your unit.