By Judy Czarsty, F79148, Acting National President
My messages in the past few issues have focused on the motorhome lifestyle, and, indeed, that is what FMCA is all about. But there is more to FMCA than simply traveling, meeting old friends, and making new friends. For many of you, it is about becoming involved.
Members can get involved in several different ways. But the first step to becoming involved is joining. Find a chapter that interests you and one in which you are comfortable with the members as well as their activities and schedule “” the latter of which is especially important if you are still in the workforce.
Once you become involved with a chapter, you will find yourself naturally gravitating toward wanting to help at a chapter rally “” maybe by cleaning off the tables, or helping to set up, or offering to cook something. The next thing you know, you’ll be thinking that you know of a great place where everyone would have a lot of fun. So, you or your spouse raises a hand at the next meeting where the chapter is looking for rally hosts. And voila! You volunteer to host a rally and thus have taken the next step in becoming involved.
For many people, their involvement stops there. But for others, becoming a chapter officer brings even more fulfillment. Many will go up through the ranks, from serving as vice president, secretary, or treasurer to president. Others will choose to be involved by representing the chapter and participating in the governance of FMCA. These people become national directors or alternate national directors. In some chapters, you will find that individuals holding either of these two officer positions also take on another officer position.
If you don’t belong to a chapter “” and more than 60 percent of FMCA members are nonchapter members “” then you might not have an appreciation for how our association works. The national and alternate national directors are the conduit for information to flow from our membership to the national level and for information from the national level to flow back down to the membership. If you don’t belong to a chapter, you might miss this information stream. Often the national director writes a column for the chapter’s newsletter or holds a seminar on important topics scheduled to come before the FMCA Governing Board at its annual meeting in the summer.
The structure of FMCA can be viewed in terms of a traditional organizational chart or in terms of the importance to the association. If you want to present it in terms of importance, then you could create an inverted pyramid. At the top is our membership. They are the most important component of the association, and everything we do should be for them. Under them are the almost 500 chapters they have formed and that FMCA supports to assist them to grow and be viable. These chapters are broken into nine geographic areas, plus a tenth area that covers all of FMCA and is called the International Area. This division allows FMCA to give each area attention and service by an elected national vice president. Next under the areas is the Governing Board, which is composed of national directors and alternate national directors, plus the four nationally elected officers and the 10 national area vice presidents. All power and authority flows from the membership, but some group must set the policies and direction of the association, which includes adopting an annual budget. That is what the Governing Board does. The national directors or alternate national directors (who must be chapter members) in each area elect a national vice president from their area to represent them on the Governing Board and the Executive Board.
Finally, on the pyramid underneath the Governing Board, with its almost 500 chapter national directors and the respective alternate national directors, is the Executive Board, which includes 15 individuals “” 10 national vice presidents elected by the national directors in each respective area; a national president, senior vice president, secretary, and treasurer who are elected by all the chapter national directors; plus the immediate past national president, who serves as an adviser and nonvoting member of the Executive Board. The Executive Board’s duties include fiscal oversight; budget review and approval; strategic planning; and, when the Governing Board is not in session, acting on ordinary, unusual, or emergency matters.
The 49 staff members employed by FMCA are attached to the side of the bottom of the pyramid. They are the worker bees who keep our organization running from administration to administration.
The Governing Board members come together at the summer Family Reunion for a Governing Board meeting. The FMCA Constitution addresses the governance of the association and authorizes the creation of the Governing Board. FMCA’s Bylaws spell out the Governing Board’s duties, and procedural issues are addressed in the Member and Volunteer Handbook (commonly referred to as the Policies and Procedures, or P&Ps).
In the July issue I will spend some time explaining further the Governing Board and the Executive Board of FMCA and their roles and the committee structure.
If you are interested in becoming involved and don’t belong to a chapter, check out the Chapters/Areas section of FMCA.com to see how the FMCA body is active, alive, and well. Or contact the FMCA national office (513-474-3622 or 800-543-3622; [email protected]) and ask someone in the Chapter Services Department to assist you in finding a chapter that suits your needs and interests.
Join us for a “Family A’Fair” in Madison, Wisconsin. Make plans now to take part in the fun that we’re sure to have at FMCA’s 86th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, August 10 through 13. A registration form appears elsewhere in this issue of the magazine, as does a story about the entertainment offerings to expect. Also in this issue are travel articles about the eclectic, amazing House On The Rock and small, intriguing towns to visit along Wisconsin’s Great River Road. FMCA hasn’t hosted a convention in Wisconsin since 1984, so we are long overdue for a visit, and perhaps you are, too. Now is the time to make plans to rectify that!
Unfortunately, the Verizon Wireless discount for FMCA members that was referenced in the January 2011 “Member Benefits Guide” will not be available after all. “We deeply and sincerely apologize for any and all inconveniences the previous and incorrect communication has caused our loyal FMCA and Verizon Wireless members,” noted a Verizon Wireless official.