From the Desk of the International President…

October 1, 2021

As I sit at my desk writing, I cannot believe that it is October already and that our “new year” is moving into the “fall quarter.” This sounds like a football metaphor, and I suppose that is okay as the football season is well underway.  My college and professional teams (University of Minnesota and Minnesota Vikings) are having their ups and downs, winning games they were predicted to lose, and losing ones in which they were huge favorites. Our Gyro clubs’ “game” against the international virus (it developed a new player) has had its ups and downs also.

Many clubs are trying to have in-person meetings for fun and friendship, but they are cognizant of the possible dangers, and are following recommended protocols. Our membership is predominantly older, and though most seem to be vaccinated, many are still being cautious.  The main thing is still to stay safe.

September and October are the time for many District conventions. Some have been in-person, others virtual. I had the privilege of going to the District I convention, which was held in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. It was a one day affair, but Bonnie and I went in a day early to allow a lunch with about 20 Gyros from Western Reserve and Painesville, and took the opportunity to visit the home office and meet our invaluable support there in Sheila and Gloria. It was a real treat to see pictures and other artifacts of our Gyro International organization from many years.

I attended District IV virtually, and installed their new officers. Peter Carter attended District VIII, Alan Pentney District III, and Dan Durbin will be at District IX this month. District X is considering mid-winter. That is Florida, you know.

While talking about conventions, it is not too early for our members to be planning to attend the annual convention in 2022.  It will be held in Cleveland, the birthplace of our friendship fraternity over 100 years ago. At District I, the plans for the Annual General Meeting for Gyro International in Cleveland June 27-30, 2022 were presented.  “Welcome Home” is the theme, and the hosts plan to showcase “Cleveland – Amazing History, Today’s Excellence.”  Business of the organization that is the purview of club delegates will be conducted, but there will be emphasis on fun and friendship for the Gyros and ladies that attend this meeting. Put the dates on your calendar now.

Although it has been the “summer quarter”, your standing committees have been quite active. The Technology Committee continues to “tweak” and make necessary improvements in the web site and in the members’ portal. I urge you to avail yourself to this resource. There are “how to” steps to help you become familiar with the possibilities that can keep us all connected. The Membership Committee is bringing forward at the October 13th meeting of the Board of Governors recommendations for action, recommendations that have come out of the information many of you provided in the member survey. The task force mentioned in the July 29th newsletter was formed, and has been meeting often over past two months. I expect a plan will be coming in November to address the issues of retaining large clubs.

Finally, a sad note in closing. As many of our members are elderly, dealing with their loss is something we deal with all too often. For me, the recent passing of Don McInnes has been a particular loss. Don was the first District Governor that I became friends with. He was Governor of District VII, and installed a friend from my club as his successor at my first district meeting years ago. He was a member of Winnipeg Club, a Gyro for 52+ years. He always had a story, and with his raspy voice, was great at telling them. And in his “formal kilt” attire, he was the real deal.

Thank you for reading. Stay safe and enjoy the fun and friendship with your fellow gyros.

Yours in Gyro Friendship

Blanton

July 29, 2021

Our ‘new’ year got off to a great start with the 2021 Annual General Meeting being held virtually on June 26. Over half of our clubs had a delegate signed in, all the district governors were there (and had proxy vote for district clubs not present), and some observers. The total attendance was similar to the last few conventions we had in person before the pandemic. The current fiscal year (May 1, 2021-April 30, 2022) budget, which had been set by the Officers and Board of Governors, was reviewed by the delegates and approved. Various awards were given, and may be found on the website. Of particular note were the Lifetime Achievement Awards given to Harold Bernard, D VI and PIP, and Ken Baker, D VIII and longtime financial administrator.

Your slate of officers was unanimously elected. Joining me are Peter Carter, 1st VP, Dan Durbin, 2nd VP, and Mike McNally, S/T. Alan Pentney is the IPIP, and continues on the council. Appreciation was given to Ted Shewchuk, as he finished his year as IPIP. We welcome Dan to the group as the ‘newcomer’. He has a lot of experience in Gyro, and has been club president and D IV governor.  I look forward to working together with the officers and all of you keep our organization viable for many more years.

The installation meeting was the evening of June 26.  We had a good number of attendees by zoom. My club, Oryg in St Paul, had a half-dozen attendees to give me moral support. I promised to keep the speech short, and I did. The other officers also gave brief comments. We missed not having the flags and bagpipe procession, but kept one tradition going with the officers, and some attendees, in black tie attire.

After a quick breath, we moved right into the first meetings, with the Officers July 14 and the Board of Governors July 21. The standing committees will have Peter Carter continuing as technology chair, and Alan Pentney will be the membership chair.  Peter reported that the Members’ Portal development and use are going well. Feedback from users is helping the committee ‘tweak’ and/or add things. Membership committee is anticipating meeting again with consultant help to get real steps and tools that will support clubs in their member recruitment and retention.

I announced a Task Force is being formed to look at options for club affiliation that would serve needs of larger clubs, as well as support all the clubs appropriately. This is not a new subject for Gyro.  It has been talked about several times over past 10-20 years. We certainly lose members to age, and cannot change that. But too many large clubs have chosen to leave the organization due to feeling self-sufficient. The plan is to intensely examine this again to see if a ‘win-win’ arrangement can be supported by our members that will keep Gyro viable and will allow the larger clubs to remain as part of the organization.

Thanks for reading. My intention is to have an update every couple months, or sooner as needed.

Yours in Gyro Friendship

Blanton

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