March 16, 2010


Stoked with scrod, filled with frittata, we were called to order by VP Vivienne at 12:50.  (President Larry is in Thailand, auditioning speakers for May and June.)  Vivienne had no pearls of wisdom for us but asked if the old-timers would fill her in on what sorts of things used to happen when the president opened a meeting.  She then called for guests, and Kathleen Scott stood proudly to introduce her husband, David.

Then there were seven announcements:  Joan Hanson read a letter sent to Arthur Kinney by Kent Faerber thanking Arthur (or was it the Club) for a Buffalo Bill memento Kent had been given at our 25th Birthday party;  Cynthia Brubaker told us that Isaac BenEzra is now in a rehab center, heart trouble.  Also ACTV will be having a special workshop for The Amherst Club on Wednesday, April 7, at 2:00P.M. to show us how to use Skype, very helpful using one’s computer to both talk with and look at family and friends who are geographically distant; Lorraine Desrosiers said that Jacqui Price is still in Linda Manor, not only being treated for an infection in her new knee but also battling the flu or whatever germ it is which caused Linda Manor to shut itself off from the outside world recently; Nancy Foster is a write-in candidate for Town Meeting from Precinct 8; Arthur Kinney invited us to the Renaissance Center on Saturday from 8 to Noon for something having to do with the Dakin Animal Shelter.  The Center is on former Dakin property and in the Dakin house.  (There was extraneous noise, and I couldn’t catch everything.  My apologies to Arthur.)  Ruth Hooke said not to miss Ann Jones speaking on Kabul at Grace Church on Thursday, March 25, at 7:30P.M.; and finally, Bonnie Isman had put some override information sheets on the back table. 

Then our Program began, with Membership Chair Ellen Kosmer very capably in charge.  Equally capable was Rachel Mustin, standing at the easel and recording on the presentation sheets all the examples of oral brilliance being exhibited.  Her records will be the official ones capturing this meeting; my jottings shown below will just give a general flavor of the happenings.  The overall subject was Membership: the application/admission process, Club activities, how to retain members, etc.  Should we be “livelier”, have more of a public presence in terms of both publicity and events, etc.?  The first speaker was Zina Tillona, who said that whatever we make on Love Notes over and above what we’ve promised the recipients should be used to fund new activities instead of increasing the amounts given to the recipients.

Then Michael Greenebaum pointed out that some young movers and shakers will be present next week to receive their allocations.  One of our main founding purposes was for networking; our guests next week might realize those possibilities and want to become members, thus giving us the image of a younger and more active club.  Perhaps we should move away from sponsored membership and have more of an open approach.  Or how about having agency memberships, whereby any given agency foots the bill for one or more its members to attend our meetings and participate in our activities?  Jean Miller proposed setting a goal of 8 or 10 new members this year to be “younger” and split 50-50 male-female.  Harry Brooks dusted off an earlier proposal of his which was to use the National Press Club procedure: televise some or all of our meetings, maybe 2 meetings a month.  Apparently ACTV is working with Rotary on this.  It’s great publicity and stirs up interest.

Bill Darity urged us not to give away everything we bring in.  Also, become a 501-C-3 charity which could bring more donations.  And sponsor events again such as Casino, but consider contracting out most of the labor involved.  Dee Waterman stays with us for our service-oriented activities and would leave if we were purely social but was quick to point out that she has a high personal liking for each one of us!   Then Elsie Fetterman picked up on the concept of letting certain agencies pay our membership dues for some of their staffers.  Cynthia Brubaker put in a plea for more visibility, such as a table at LIR activities, a booth at various Town events, etc.  Ruth Hooke then suggested an Amherst Club presence on April 24 at a Sustainability Fair on the Town Common.  Roger Webb commented that it is hard to obtain members with full-time jobs.  Maybe we should consider letting new people join as Associates.  (Ed. Note: What’s the makeup of Rotary’s membership?) Roger’s comment immediately brought Kathleen Scott to her feet because she’s been saying all along that we should relax our membership rules.  In her case and David’s, it’s to allow partial-year memberships at reduced rates.  They’re currently only in our area for six months a year.  She went on to say that we might consider career-oriented memberships such as chefs, or writers, etc.  How about what’s left of University Women?  Or the Senior Centers in Hadley and Belchertown in addition to Amherst? 

Claude Tellier said we should better publicize what we do.  Perhaps have a Newsletter.  We should feature members’ activities as well as the Club’s.  Nancy Foster wants us to permit more controversial topics, having speakers with specific points of view.  (No mention of having balance or opposing points of view represented if the topics are truly controversial.)  Flo Stern pointed out that there are entities other than Senior Centers in need of volunteers: certain church groups, the Cot Shelter, Family Center, etc.  Zina Tillona returned to the subject of controversy, saying that there are many alternate forums already in Amherst, and that anyway, the founders of The Amherst Club made it clear that there was to be no controversy, politics, sales or self-promoting at Amherst Club meetings.  Arthur Kinney liked Flo Stern’s suggestion of aiding other groups.  “Are we really deserving of being called The Amherst Club?”  Dee Waterman pointed that our busy founders found the time to attend meetings, and our first members were women as well as men!  Kathleen Scott wondered about periodic short gatherings at 5PM somewhere, so workers wouldn’t have to give up a lunchtime but could still get together socially and for networking.  Elsie Fetterman wants us to reexamine our current membership procedures, concerned about what might happen if someone knows he/she is proposed for membership but then is turned down by the Board.  Bonnie Isman said that volunteers are welcome in the Jones Library, primarily for ESL but also elsewhere. 

Ellen Kosmer announced that we had run out of time.  She thanked everyone for a most productive meeting and said that the Membership Committee and the Board would be having much study, discussion and some prioritizing.  After adjournment, Zina took advantage of  sitting next to me to make one more suggestion: that we compile a list of our members’ skills, interests, experiences, etc. with an eye toward obtaining volunteers for mentoring or for certain tutoring situations. 

Lovingly submitted by your scribe-for-the-day, --- Hub