By Jim Ammenheuser, F157201
National Vice President, South Central Area
FMCA offers its members many different benefits. But a number of these benefits require some action on the members’ part, or they won’t be fully enjoyed.
Chapter membership is a member benefit that is ours for the taking. FMCA has approximately 125,000 active member families, and of these families, 34 percent belong to a chapter. We all know that the more time and effort you invest into any activity, the more you receive in terms of accomplishment and satisfaction. And when it comes to chapter involvement, this is definitely the case.
Many chapters encompass geographical areas, so activities take place within a certain radius of the members’ homes. Other chapters focus on a special interest or are centered on a specific motorhome brand. Regardless, chapters are where the fun is, and they can provide long and lasting friendships.
To stay viable, chapters need to continue to bring in new members to fill the jobs that keep the chapter functioning and provide opportunities to its members. Members like to be needed and included. In turn, they return to the chapter their time and talent.
Opportunities to give of one’s talents can extend beyond the chapter itself. These include being a national director, working with area associations in putting on regional rallies, becoming an area officer or national officer, working on the teams that produce the international conventions, and serving on a national committee.
FMCA has a database that lets members indicate their willingness to serve and indicate any expertise and interests that they feel would assist the organization at all levels. Call the Membership Services Department at the national office, and ask to have your information entered in the database. Make that first step.
If you are in a chapter, make your desire to serve known to your chapter and area leaders. It is their responsibility to consider you and make recommendations. As in a business, though, sometimes there are more applicants than positions. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Get involved with your chapter, be positive, and move forward. Your contribution will be noted and opportunities will follow.
Perhaps you would like to consider being a national director. Since national directors form the Governing Board, they control how FMCA moves into the future. You must belong to a chapter to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity. Each chapter elects one national director, who is charged with representing the membership as a whole, not just the chapter from which he or she was elected. Each of the 435 national directors must set policy, approve the proposals of the Executive Committee, and set the budget when the Governing Board meets each year at FMCA’s summer convention. Being a Governing Board representative is a demanding and important position.
Area associations are charged with aiding communication among chapters, as well as producing an area rally. It takes many volunteers to put on such an event. Some area rallies traditionally have been produced by specific chapters, and other area rallies are put on with the help of a large group of volunteer captains from a variety of chapters. It also takes many volunteers to fill the officer ranks in each area.
FMCA’s international conventions are produced by staff in the Convention Department, with dedicated assistance from FMCA’s national officers and members of the Convention and Rally Committee “” but that’s only the beginning. Hundreds of volunteers, usually from the area that is hosting the convention, fill jobs that ensure consistency in the functions of parking, trams, security, safety, seminars, youth activities, and much more. Convention volunteers come from within the ranks of chapters, another reason to become involved in one or more of these subgroups of FMCA.
Finally, we come to the opportunities to serve on the national level. National committees are essential to provide comprehensive input to the Executive Committee and the headquarters staff. Members of these committees are appointed by the president, with advice and consent of the Executive Committee. Needless to say, it helps to have had experience volunteering in other FMCA capacities to be considered qualified to serve as a member of these groups. The national committees include the following: Constitution and Bylaws; Convention and Rally; Education; Finance; Insurance and Risk Management; Legislative Advisory; Long-Range & Development; Member Recruitment; Membership/Member Services; Nominating; Policy and Procedure; Technical Advisory, and Youth Activities.
As you can see, various opportunities are available at many levels for those who wish to get involved in FMCA. Yes, in some instances, we have more volunteers than positions.
But you won’t know unless you make your interest known and get involved. The rewards are great, and you and your contribution will make our organization even better. And, most importantly, all of this involvement will help you form close, long-lasting friendships.