The power of local chapters…
Last week, I had the honor of addressing attendees of a Gleaner Life Insurance Society local chapter meeting in Westfield, Ohio. The event – whose purpose was to recognize several members for their outstanding volunteer efforts – attracted not only over 100 society members, but also U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and two state representatives from the area.
Rep. Gibbs’ remarks focused on the important role that fraternals play in filling gaps in the government’s social safety net. He emphasized the impact the local Gleaner chapter had on addressing hunger issues in the local community. And he clearly understood the connection between fraternal’s efforts to secure their member’s financial futures and use the proceeds from the financial services operation to fund and facilitate volunteerism that enhances the quality of life in the communities where members live and work.
The Westfield meeting was a perfect example of the difference between “show and tell” when it comes to delivering the fraternal message. Alliance staff and lobbyists, as well as government affairs professionals from member societies, do a terrific job of “telling” our story to public policymakers. We can provide a host of facts, figures, and statistics on the impact fraternals have nationally or in a particular state. And that is a very important part of our overall advocacy effort.
But when local chapters get together to help solve real problems – like hunger, which is endemic in every community – we can actually “show” our story to public policymakers. And that, my friends, is the difference maker when it comes to earning the awareness and respect of public policymakers on both sides of the aisle.
The secrets to the success of this new Gleaner local chapter? There are several:
- A field representative that lives and breathes the value system of the fraternal and that is actively engaged in the chapter and community events, including outreach to state and federal legislators;
- An enthusiastic pastor of a local church food bank who energizes fraternal members and focuses their efforts on meaningful volunteer activities to make a difference in the community;
- Strong support from the community outreach staff at the home office who make sure members know all that’s available to them from the society and who recognize the efforts of their local chapters.
Congratulations to the whole Gleaner team for creating this new chapter and making the entire fraternal community a little stronger.