Monday, August 29, 2011

Spicing Up Cluster Meetings

 Cluster meetings.
 What are they? They’re an opportunity for new members to get to know other JLSA members, AND to get to know the organization as a whole. Dana Cleveland has taken the cluster meeting to a whole new level with recent challenges issued to her new member group.
 Read Dana’s account (below) to learn more about what Dana does to keep cluster meetings interesting, innovative and inspiring. Then, challenge yourself to complete the same activities, or to come up with new ways to more fully comprehend the mission, vision and objectives of JLSA. 
Each cluster meeting I decided I wanted to challenge my ladies to learn more about themselves AND the league they have joined.  I do research on my own and bring to each meeting a sort of history lesson and copies of documents from past leagues and the true history of the junior league.  Their first assignment was as follows:  I asked each of my new members, for our Cluster Meeting #2 was to reflect on themselves and why they are becoming part of an elite group of women.  I told them that all great women in history had a purpose and mission for doing what they do.  I told them the "God Mother" of the Junior League, Mary Harriman Rumsey, once said, "Our League, as I see it, was organized as a means of expressing the feeling of social responsibility for the conditions which surrounded us. We have the responsibility to act, and we have the responsibility to conscientiously act to affect the environment around us."
 I then asked them their "Mission Statement" or their purpose in the Junior League. Here are a few of their responses:
·         Celeste Oliver wrote, "To partner with socially conscientious women to promote health, education, and well-being of families and individuals to create the clean, compassionate and viable community that will enhance our lives, the lives of our peers and leave a better place for our children."
·         Janet Pedrotti wrote, "I come from a background of fundraising where I learned the biggest reason people don't donate to charities is because they have never been asked and I realized the reason I never volunteered, even though I wanted to, was because I was never asked. I joined the league as my way of throwing myself into volunteering. And I am a huge fan of the "pay it forward" theory and I truly believe it you show compassion towards someone and do something nice there will be a chain reaction of kindness."
·         Alejandra Baptista wrote, "My purpose to make a difference with the league is to help people in need within my community driven by my belief that it can only lead to more positivity and I am grateful that I have two arms and two legs and the time to volunteer and fulfill my purpose."
 I told them that during my provisional year I was voted as Spotlight New Member and was asked the very same question.  I told them that as we do our duties as leaguers, we should see our “new member requirements” as more than requirements; we should think of them as opportunities.
The next Cluster Homework (due in October) revolves around some information I provided my group at Cluster meeting #2 regarding a Junior League article in the Junior League Magazine from October 1952.  It describes the “average” League member of that time from a certain demographic.  As we read it in our cluster meeting we laughed and saw how different we think the league is now.  I plan to have each lady describe their idea of the “average” League member now.  I’m curious to see how this has changed and what each of them see as the same or different from the 1952 article.
 I feel very fortunate to work alongside such incredible women doing great things!

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