From the Desk of the International President…

January 12, 2022

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  I hope that all of you had a joyful holiday season with family and friends, and have remained well despite the ongoing viral scourge. We were all hoping that as we entered the new year of 2022, we would be back to “normal”.  Now, I am not sure what normal may really become. The virus continues to mutate, and seeming to stay a step ahead of treatment and prevention.  We remain careful in our in-person meetings and events. We plan to get together for friendship and fun more than we have been, but still need to keep safety in mind.

Speaking of getting together, plans to have our annual meeting this June 27-30, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio, are still in place. All of you members should have gotten registration information about the meeting and the accommodations. The host committee in District I has done a wonderful job of setting up fun events for the entire week. There are many activities planned for those members and their ladies that attend. The host hotel is quite impressive, I actually visited there back in September when I attended the District I annual meeting. We do have to remain cognizant of being safe. The committee does need to know our intentions of attending or not. Reservations with the hotel always face a deadline date for guaranteeing how many rooms to hold. I urge all of you who are planning to go to make a reservation soon if you are thinking you will attend.

Your Board of Governors and Executive council have maintained their meeting schedules. Membership remains the top priority. At the end of 2021, overall the membership was down about 5% for the calendar year. This range has been pretty constant now for quite a few years. It is mostly due to deaths of members. Many of our clubs have an average age of over 80 years! In 2021, we did have one club that had opted not to pay any per capita over the last 3 years, and, despite ongoing attempts to reconcile with them, the charter had to be rescinded. This was a loss of around 50 members. Eight years ago, there were a couple large clubs that elected to leave Gyro.  The losses related to ageing are known. Hopefully the loss of a singular club can be avoided going forward.

This leads into updating you on the membership committee ongoing work.  PIP Alan Pentney has been chairing the committee this year. Through the last quarter, recommendations came to the Board of Governors with eight items to consider. These items were steps that were being recommended after the committee’s extensive review of the surveys, as well as sessions with the consultant used in the survey. The Board of Governors reviewed the options posed by the membership committee. The options ranged from ‘keeping everything the same’ to ‘make major changes in governance and structure’ or somewhere in between.  I’m not going into much more detail here, as Alan reported on much of this activity in the recent Gyroscope.

However, one major undertaking will be starting this month. A task force, chaired by Dan Durbin, 2nd VP, will extensively examine possible changes in governance structure that would lead to a flatter organization, give more support to the clubs, and be more apt to facilitate new recruitment in a wider age and diverse population.  This will not be any ‘rushed’ or ‘knee jerk’ project. There will not be change just to change.  We don’t want to ‘toss the baby out with the bath water.’  However, the goal is to have a leaner governance structure that still maintains a sense of internationally connected people, but have a structure that will invigorate the current clubs and lead to new club formation. 

I hope you have used the Members Portal and other parts of the website. It is quite easy to find members, clubs, email out to large numbers, and other tasks.  The Technology Committee has done a great job over the past year in adding value to the Gyro International website.

Again, I hope for all of us that 2022 will be a better year.  But whatever comes, we know we have friends in our individual club, as well as in our area, and our two countries.

Yours in Gyro Friendship

Blanton

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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