By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
Now that we are quickly approaching FMCA’s 82nd International Convention, which will be held July 20 through 23 in Bowling Green, Ohio, I want to devote this month’s column to that large group of individuals who give so much of their time and talents to make the association’s conventions a success: volunteers. Given the magnitude of these events, they would not be possible without volunteers.
In fact, approximately 800 volunteers normally are needed to serve in various capacities, such as information, seminars, trams, coffee hour, security, and more. They normally work a total of eight hours throughout the event; the time is divided into shifts over three to four days. Volunteers traditionally are recruited via chapters rather than on an individual basis.
Volunteers who are available to work an extended number of days well before the convention begins also are needed; these are the members of our advance crew. Because they provide continuity and are required to work many long hours, the Governing Board has approved in Policy and Procedure #2031/D (Member Staff) a partial reimbursement for some of their travel expenses. The advance crew consists of 70 to 80 members who arrive three to four days before the scheduled parking days. There are eight different advance crew categories, with parking, security, and trams requiring the most members.
The parking layout crew is responsible for laying out the parking spaces; marking the streets and lots; and then parking all the family members, commercial members, and display coaches as they arrive. We have about 15 different parking lots for family members and two different lots for commercial members at each convention. The parking credentials specify the parking lot, and it is the responsibility of our parking layout crew members to direct the arriving coaches to the correct lot and to get them parked. The crew members begin work around 7:00 a.m. each parking day and end their shift shortly after 5:00 p.m. They work those hours each day up to and through the first day of the convention. After that, a partial crew stays on duty for the remainder of the convention to handle parking issues that may arise because of late arrivals or other occurrences that require the subsequent movement of coaches. On the departure day, the parking layout crew removes the parking markers and street and lot signs and packs them away for the next convention.
The security crew is responsible for managing all security posts and overseeing the security volunteers and any temporary hired security personnel. The crew’s responsibilities are divided into several areas to include perimeter security posts; outdoor exhibits and displays; indoor displays; local, temporary hired personnel; and daytime and evening entertainment. The security crew also works closely with the on-site emergency medical specialty personnel we have present at all conventions. The security crew begins work before any family members or commercial members arrive and continues through the entire convention. Their day starts around 7:00 a.m. and continues through evening entertainment. They remain on call throughout the night, always ready to respond to any security issue that might arise.
The tram crew is responsible for setting the tram routes, and supervising tram drivers and tram volunteers. The tram crew recommends the locations for tram stops and the frequency of the trams, to provide the best support possible for getting members to their desired location. The crew also displays the marked routes at the tram transfer stations. Several trams begin running about 6:00 a.m., transporting volunteers to the various areas to get things ready for that day’s activities. The trams continue to run until the last folks are delivered safely to their coaches after the evening entertainment. Beginning with the summer convention in Bowling Green, I have moved the responsibility for overseeing the handicapped and activity tram carts to the tram crew chief. This oversight will enhance the utilization of the six-passenger golf carts that transport members parked in the handicap lots to various convention activities. The tram crew remains on duty until the last tram completes its route on the final night of entertainment.
The other categories of advance crew are as follows:
The safety crew is composed of two highly qualified and certified individuals who are responsible for evaluating the safety aspects of the international conventions to ensure all areas at the convention site are made as safe as possible without impeding members’ enjoyment of the event. The safety crew inspects all the facilities, briefs all volunteer groups, handles accident and safety incident reports, advises members and staff of safety hazards, and recommends corrective action. Their job begins when they arrive on the convention grounds and ends when the convention is over. The safety crew is on call 24 hours a day until the last coach leaves the convention site.
The radio crew, also composed of two individuals, provides the support for radio communications throughout the event. They control the inventory of leased equipment and issue radios, battery chargers, and related items. They are also responsible for the repeater antennas, as well as replacing or repairing radios that have malfunctioned. Radios are an important tool to ensure proper communications between volunteers, advance crews, officers, and staff. The radio crew is on call 24 hours a day, and their responsibilities are completed after all radios are returned, inventoried, packed, and shipped. This normally takes a full day after the end of the convention to be completed.
Our one-person utilities crew is responsible for providing logistical support for the advance crew members who work all day. This person handles validation and delivery of the crew’s lunches, and he or she continually checks the various lots and areas, providing water to workers to prevent dehydration . . . as well as hot beverages when the weather is cold (and wet), like it was during the first few days at our convention in Perry, Georgia, this past March.
The one-person welcome crew oversees the spouses of the advance crew and Executive Board, who volunteer to prepare and distribute the welcome bags “” also known as “goodie” bags “” that convention-goers receive as they arrive at their parking sites. The welcome crew arranges for the packing of welcome bags and organizes the volunteers who either deliver the bags or staff the various locations where members pick up the bags. The welcome crew duty begins a few days prior to the first day of parking and is completed at the end of the last parking day.
The sound crew works with the contracted sound provider during evening entertainment.
The Youth Committee plans the youth activities program for the summer conventions. They are responsible for organizing off-site outings to local attractions; pizza parties; entertainment; and ensuring there are games and various activities to keep the youth entertained. Most importantly, the committee is responsible for the organization of youth volunteers and for the supervision of the Youth Center, as well as all activities both on-site and off-site.
One final group of volunteers gives a significant amount of their time during the convention: the members of the Executive Board. They start their day with a radio briefing at 7:00 a.m., and continually work behind the scenes to help provide a safe and, we hope, trouble-free convention. They remain available to provide assistance until the last members have returned to their coaches after evening entertainment, most of them providing assistance in getting the handicapped members back to their coaches.
I look forward to seeing many of you in Bowling Green in July and urge you to take the time to say “thank you” to the individuals who will be wearing those volunteer ribbons. If you are a member who has attended previous conventions, I also ask you to be especially watchful for people wearing brown “first-timer” ribbons. Extend them a warm welcome and offer of assistance. I can assure you the gesture will put a smile on everyone’s face.
Until next month, may all your travels be safe and trouble-free.
Is Your E-Mail Address Up-To-Date?
FMCA needs to have your current member information “” e-mail address, postal address, and phone number “” on file so we can give you important membership information, such as our monthly e-newsletter, and other correspondence.
Many members do not have any e-mail address on file with FMCA. In the case of other members, the e-mail address on file is no longer valid and needs to be updated. For example, in February, when FMCA sent an association-wide e-mail asking for help in locating missing members, that message did not reach more than 1,500 members because of invalid e-mail addresses.
Perhaps you changed e-mail services. Or maybe you have an FMCA.com sign-in account with an e-mail address that differs from the one in your original member record. For all correspondence, FMCA uses the e-mail address in your member record. So, if the e-mail address for your sign-in account is your primary, most recent e-mail address, please reconcile it with your member record.
You can update your member information online. From the FMCA.com home page, under the Quick Links heading, click Update Member Information. Or, click the Update Membership link under the Members drop-down menu at the top right of the FMCA.com site.
If you are not signed in, you will need to create an online account or sign in using your username and password. Once signed in, under the sign-in button, you can click the Update Account Information link there, too.
On the My Account page, the top portion of the page concerns your sign-in account information. Scroll down to update your membership information. Again, the e-mail used for your sign-in account does not have to match the e-mail in your membership information. But FMCA uses the latter for all e-mail correspondence with you.
You also can update your member information by calling the Member Services Department, (513) 474-3622 or (800) 543-3622, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FMCA does not share e-mail addresses or members’ personal information with outside parties.