We have just completed our District Meetings, what a great turnout!! Thanks to all the units and District Presidents for the successful and informative meetings! Wonderful to see and visit with so many of you. I am sharing this information for those of you who were unable to attend a meeting.
It is a great privilege to serve as your Department President this year. We have a very exciting year ahead and I can’t wait for us to get started!!
I have just returned from our 96th National Convention. Can you imagine that our organization, the World’s Largest Women’s Patriotic Organization has been doing this for 96 years?
I want to share a few highlights with you.
First of all congratulations to all our members who received recognition or awards at National, we received 9 awards and Girls State was featured on the big screen just to highlight a few. Way to go South Dakota!!! It is so wonderful to see our efforts recognized!!
The dollar value of our volunteer hours reported this year was 1.9 billion dollars, yes billion… that’s quite an impact. Imagine what it would be if everyone submitted reports!!!!
A new self-paced online program for members to learn more about the Auxiliary is on its way. It will be called ALA Academy and when completed will be available on the National website: www.alaforveterans.org this is a great way for us as members to understand who we are, what we do and why we matter.
Watch for updates in the Legionnette and on our website as information becomes available.
There was one amendment to the National Standing Rules that was passed and will require updates to all unit Constitution and Bylaws. The resolution was presented to simplify the process by which a member can transfer her membership to another ALA unit. The biggest part of this change is that the member can pay their current dues to the old unit or the new unit they are transferring to as long as they are a member in good standing. Please work with your C&B chairman if you have any questions.
Mary Davis from the state of Washington was elected our National President for 2016-2017. Her theme is “ALA Member Pride” and her membership theme is “Enhance the Member Experience” She is a very down to earth, easy to talk to person with great leadership skills, we will have a great year under her guidance.
As Department President I feel that your symbol and theme should portray what is important to you personally. My theme is “Have You Hugged A Veteran Today?”
I have selected the colors of the flag, red, white and blue as my colors. I hope you will all join me in wearing these colors to celebrate our membership in the World’s Largest Women’s Patriotic Organization.
My flowers are the Poppy which represents the blood shed by our fallen soldiers, the Shasta Daisy which is a symbol of purity and innocence and The Blue Cornflower which represents tenderness and tradition.
My songs are Amazing Grace, This Land is Your Land, and God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood. These songs are some of our most beloved music and we DO need God to Bless and watch over The USA every day!
Now onto the goals for our Department this year:
I would like to us to have a fun filled, educational year working together, mentoring each other and getting to know each other a little better.
The magnetic backed American Legion Auxiliary emblem has been such a big hit we will continue to have them available this year
I am passionate about the Poppy Program and will be emphasizing it this year.
Knowing how much the Poppy means to our veterans and our Auxiliary I would like to ask to the units to double their poppy orders this year. Now that the Poppy label is a generic one, we can use the poppies for many different projects if you have any left over from your poppy distribution activities.
At the Hot Springs VA up to 25 veterans make the poppies for our orders, there is a therapeutic value to them that comes from making the poppies, especially if they have PTSD. The monies that they earn from making the poppies (10 cents per poppy) are used by the veterans to buy Christmas presents for their families.
We are one of only a few states that have all their poppies made by veterans.
Other states the auxiliary makes their own poppies or orders them from overseas vendors, what a loss to our veterans.
Let’s make sure to promote this increase at all our unit meetings. I ask for your help to achieve this goal. Orders are starting to come in now and the first veterans will be coming to the Poppy Room at the HS VA to pick up their kits.
Another way to promote the Poppy Program is by providing school libraries with the book “Poppy Lady”, this book is a tribute to veterans and would be a great addition to any library.
The President’s Project this year is at the Hot Springs State Veterans Home. They are in need of a new portable PA system. The one they currently use is very old, mounted on a wheelchair and the speakers have a lot of background static. The portable PA system is used for birthday parties, bingo, carnivals and many other activities that the veterans enjoy. I hope that I can count on YOUR support of this very important project.
We have a new space in The Legionnette dedicated for “A Member to Remember”. This section is intended to recognize those members who work hard behind the scenes, can always be counted on, but seldom are recognized for their contributions.
Districts 1-4 units will submit members for this special recognition up to Mid-Winter, Districts 5-8 units will submit their members after Mid-Winter until May 16th. Submissions need to be sent to your District President. They will be selecting the members to forward onto the Legionnette publisher each month.
Look for more information on this in your District President newsletters. Please make sure to send a 3-4 line narrative and include pictures of the member participating in the activity.
Let’s have fun with this and let our members know how important they are and how proud we are of their accomplishments!! Contact your District President or Legionnette editor if you have any questions.
The District Presidents and I have been talking about ways to share information and mentor our members. I have asked each District President to conduct a workshop in their area this fall. This timeframe will be of the most benefit for our members.
Please watch for details in their newsletters and make plans to attend. Bring a friend, carpool, or just show up. The time spent with your fellow auxiliary sisters and the information shared will be well worth your effort to attend. I also have heard that some of them are planning potlucks, food always brings us out!!
Reporting always seems to be an area that we struggle with. We all work so hard and do so much for our veterans, children and youth and in our communities. Because we are a service organization we all feel that we do not need to be recognized for what we do, we just do it because there is a need.
But it is very important to report what we do, to be able to continue to do what we do.
During the district president orientation the District Presidents and I discussed the need for a quicker, easier way to have the units report their information to the District Presidents. I asked for three volunteers to help come up with a form for reporting and a form for submitting narratives.
Thank you Rose Kraft, Theresa Huntimer and Cindy Hansen for volunteering to take on this task and putting together a great document for us. Remember this is a working document, we need feedback from you to make this work.
When you are submitting your mid-year reports please use these forms and provide us with your suggestions of how to improve the form. The forms will also be added to the website at www.sdlegionaux.org
This is year 3 of the National Strategic Plan, which emphasizes leadership and mentoring. Just because you do not hold an office doesn’t mean that you are not a leader – if you help you are a leader. We are all leaders in different ways.
During this year we will be holding workshops, visiting units, holding conference calls, and investing in our resources (which is you our members) by providing you with the tools you need to be successful. Last year the Department Strategic Plan committee implemented co-captains for the District Presidents and some of the Dept. Chairmen as a way to mentor future leaders.
The committee will be meeting to discuss new opportunities for our department to work on the goals of the strategic plan. If we work on our programs and enhance membership we will be touching all 5 of the goals. Goal #1 has been reworded from “attain a million members” to enhance membership strength.
I have received several “anonymous” requests, with notes on them asking for a Good Deed card or Thank You card that we could give to each other or adults when we observe someone displaying good citizenship, patriotism kindness, or just setting a good example for others. In response to your requests I created a Thank You card, please pick them up, share them freely and have fun recognizing others!!!
Please take pictures, write narratives and tell us about the recipients, I can’t wait to read your stories and see the pictures.
Mission Training is Nov. 5th in Minneapolis, this is a great way to learn more about our organization from our National Chairmen. Please make plans to attend.
Mid-Winter is Feb. 10-12, 2017 in Oacoma at Cedar Shores, make your reservations early as the rooms are going quickly. We will have workshops and many fun activities so please make your plans to attend and share this time with your American Legion Family.
We are a great team, “Team South Dakota” and we have so much to offer our veterans, communities, children and youth and each other. Every day we see the attitudes and actions of disrespect for our flag, our national anthem, and a true lack of patriotism. I am proud to be an American, just like all of you and will always stand up for our flag and our national anthem.
Our role as American Legion Auxiliary members is more important today than at any other time in history. Without us who will teach our youth about patriotism, respect for our flag, respect for our county and each other, and those who continue to fight for our freedom?
We need to be involved and make a difference by setting a good example at all times.
Let’s show our unity by working together showing respect for each other as we conduct the business of the Auxiliary.
Oh and one more thought, have you hugged a veteran today?