One of the most pleasant tasks of being state board president is visiting local Leagues all over this amazing state of ours. While the glow has not yet faded from my last visit – in this case, to the Schuyler County LWV in the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes – let me share all the things that League did to make it such a great occasion.
THEY HAD A CLEAR GOAL. They wanted to rejuvenate their League by charging up current members and getting some new ones.
THEY HAD A TEAM. Four members made up a coordinating committee and other members supported them.
THEY USED THEIR ASSETS. Located on one of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake, they used a fine winery that overlooked a huge flower garden, vineyards and the lake. They mined their old League lists and personal connections throughout the county to develop a targeted invitation list. Word-of-mouth helped too.
THEY PICKED THE RIGHT PLACE AND TIME The At water winery they chose was not only beautiful, with great wines, but was physically accessible to all and had an owner who was delighted to work with them to make the occasion successful. He charged no fee either! They also figured out that the summer was better than the fall for such an event.
THEY MADE IT WELCOMING: It was FREE and the big spread of food was homemade and really good! Members and the winery owner and staff mingled and made people feel comfortable. They invited a state League person (me) to make it not just about them but still about the League. And they had many younger speakers and audience members – and men as well as women – who asked and answered good questions. It was both substantive and happy.
One of the organizers has already reported that three people there that night have become members (or rejoined) and three others who couldn’t attend but got the invitation have signed up too. “And it went exactly the way we wanted it to,” she said. Congratulations to all!
They won me over not just for the League but also for the whole area. The central town of Watkins Glen has a lot of charm, much of it not even connected with the famous race track, and the lake and the gorges and the rural country all around made me want to go back, rent a cottage, and spend a relaxing week there just staring at Seneca Lake. And I now have new friends at the Chamber, the winery, the WG Harbor Hotel and the WG mayor’s office – and elsewhere in the county – to check in with. Thank you, Schuyler County!
Glenda Gephardt, president, speaking at left. Current Watkins Glen, Sam Schimizzi, is 2nd to the right from Glenda.
Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
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