Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Sometimes I just have to sit back and marvel at what this association has accomplished over the past 40 years. Recently my wife, Sharon, and I were able to attend two area rallies. To say that they were well organized and beautifully run would not sufficiently describe the level of success that we witnessed. Since I attend at least five area rallies and two international conventions per year, I have the perfect opportunity to experience these events firsthand and appreciate the monumental amount of effort that goes into planning and executing them.
FMCA’s international conventions are supported by eight full-time employees who work in the convention department at national headquarters. A number of additional staff members travel to conventions to assist in the coordination of the event. However, throughout the process of planning and executing each international convention, members of the Convention and Rally Committee oversee and direct the event, much like area associations work to put on area rallies.
The area rallies that we attended this winter impressed us so much. On our way home from the second, I could not take my mind off the fact that so many people give of their time and energy to support and provide for others, and in doing so, they also have learned about the fun, enjoyment, and benefits of volunteering.
Area rallies are planned and executed by volunteers, from the top down. Four years ago, the national office staff offered to handle member registration and commercial registration for area rallies, if the organizers so desired, to ease the process and as a benefit to those attending and working the events. Other than that, the area rallies are supported through volunteers.
The impression that sticks in my mind so clearly is the fine organization and structure that enables FMCA members to work with and for others, and the joy they experience in giving of themselves. In most cases, the volunteers come from the respective area chapters, since chapters provide the structure from which to assign and manage a large group of individuals. Most area rallies have between 400 and 600 volunteers, and as many as 800 volunteers work at FMCA’s international conventions. These kind people take on various responsibilities, such as security, information, trams, seminar moderating, and parking. Some of them work mainly before the event, and others work during the event. In all, the effort is monumental and must be well organized and structured to ensure the smooth operation of the event.
Although the volunteers are usually asked to stand and be recognized during these events, I believe that most people really do not appreciate the number of man-hours involved in the volunteers’ jobs. The volunteers’ time requirements are usually from four to six hours, but many of them work for days and months. Volunteers pay the same registration fee for the event as non-volunteers. They usually arrive one to two days before the others who attend the rally or convention. Their reimbursement? They usually receive a meal the night before the regular attendees arrive — and a closer-in parking spot. The “volunteer dinner” is a way for event organizers to thank them and recognize them for their efforts.
Why would anyone want to spend six hours out in the weather waving to arriving motorhomers; or provide security to exhibit and entertainment areas; or stand out in fields or on hot asphalt parking motorhomes; or attend seminars that they may not be interested in, just to distribute handouts? The answer to me is easy. They have experienced the joys of volunteering and know that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.
Often during the rallies and especially afterward, I hear volunteers talking about how many wonderful people they have met and the opportunities to socialize that volunteering has opened up for them. Since most opportunities to volunteer occur through chapters, it provides yet another opportunity for chapter members to get together and just have fun.
Last year, only 12 percent of FMCA members attended an area rally or international convention. I hope you will have the opportunity to attend one of these events if you have not done so in the past. When you do, please do me and all of the rally organizers a favor and thank the volunteers. They make these events more economical and affordable for attendees. You can usually recognize volunteers by the brightly colored baseball caps and visors that they wear, which identify the area in which they are volunteering, or by the volunteer ribbons proudly affixed to their name badges.
Volunteerism has made this association successful over the past 40 years. FMCA’s volunteers are right up front at each rally and convention, helping us to have a safe and enjoyable event. May we never forget this characteristic of FMCA and not only participate in volunteerism, but also extend our gratitude to those who do.