May 25, 2021
We have turned a corner! Spring is here and virus cases are dropping rapidly as vaccines are distributed. However, given the variant intensity in Manitoba and uncertainty about the border opening, the Winnipeg Convention Committee advised on April 25 that the August 4 International Convention was cancelled. The situation is disappointing but hopefully their planning is able to be applied to another convention soon.
A Virtual Gyro Convention is now planned by the Executive Council. This will include a New Fiscal Year Board Meeting on June 16 and an Annual General Meeting (AGM) the morning of Saturday June 26 followed by an Installation Ceremony the evening of June 26. Details are as follows:
1. June 16 Virtual Board Meeting: This meeting is normally held at the annual Convention ahead of the AGM. The business agenda related to the AGM will include:
a. Budget review
b. Election of a Director to the Betterment Fund Board
c. Board member annual reports
d. Future Convention Hosts
2. June 26 Virtual AGM: An annual Convention AGM is mandated by the Gyro Constitution, but the June 2020 in Victoria was cancelled in due to the pandemic. In July 2020 the Gyro Bylaws were amended to permit the Executive Council to hold a Convention by any means possible. A Gyro AGM is unique because Club Delegates carry votes for their club or if a club is not able to attend, then their votes are assigned to their Governor. Club Presidents and Secretary/Treasurers will receive meeting material and an invitation to register their club around May 28th. Additional details are on the website under “Conventions”. If a member wishes to observe the AGM, please email me at . The agenda will include:
a. Year-end financial statement and budget approval
c. Election of a Trustee for a 3 year term to the Board of Trustees
d. Election of a slate of Officers to the Executive Council
e. Award announcements
3. June 26 Virtual Installation Ceremony: The Installation of Gyro International Officers normally occurs at a Convention banquet following the AGM. In this case the Virtual Ceremony will be officiated by IPIP Ted Shewchuk. If you wish to attend, please let me know at . Officers will also be inviting friends and family which is a benefit of a virtual event from a travel perspective.
There have been some other decisions and activities in the past month that I want to advise you on.
This will be my last President’s Newsletter as I will be leaving this position in June. I have enjoyed being the head of a fine leadership team for this great organization despite the lack of in-person meeting opportunities. The past years events will be elaborated on at the AGM and in my President’s Message in the June Gyroscope. I am looking forward to the Past President’s role and supporting the Executive Council in making Gyro the best it can be.
Thank you for your support and advice this past year – and – Keep the fun in Gyro!
April 22, 2021
In my last newsletter I was optimistic about vaccines changing our lives quickly. That has not happened in Canada with the third variant upon us. I am still optimistic, but I have to adjust my expectations. My wife and I have had the vaccine and it appears many Gyros have – it is the younger generation that is at risk now. I know of some Gyro extended families that have had losses and our deepest sympathies are extended.
I want to begin by describing a very rewarding initiative that 1st VP Blanton Bessinger, 2nd VP Peter Carter and I engaged in over the past 3 months. We decided that we would telephone Club Presidents as a form of health check on how clubs are coping given all the virus restrictions and to express our appreciation for their club being a part of Gyro. We contacted about 45 Presidents or Secretaries and we were extremely impressed with the positive reception we received. It was also a learning experience to hear how clubs engage with their members in different ways. It was so inspiring that if there was no virus restrictions we would be on a number of road trips, at our own expense, to get to know clubs better and learn more about what makes them successful.
In March and April your Board of Governors and advisors met twice to continue to improve Gyro. The outcomes and initiatives that are of interest are described here:
1. Club Officer Survey: A survey was created by District 7 Governor Derek Hay to assist the Board of Governors in assessing how the Board is doing and what club officers thought about some topics on the Future of Gyro. I was pleased to see a greater than 40 percent response from clubs. Some observations were:
a. General satisfaction with the District Governors accessibility, and representation.
b. General satisfaction with website improvements made this year.
c. There was non-committal on using the Betterment Fund for recruiting members which corresponds to the lack of uptake in the past two years. Advice on better ways to utilize the fund would be appreciated.
d. General satisfaction with communication about Board activities by the International President and with Board of Governors actions.
e. 56% of Clubs fund a delegate to attend an international convention but 76% noted that distance to the convention affects attendance.
f. A virtual Convention would be participated in by 38% and possibly another 35% of clubs which would mean close to 50 clubs may participate versus the typical 15 clubs beyond those represented by a Governor or Executive member.
g. Satisfaction with the Gyroscope but lower than expected commitment to provide articles – please reconsider as we want to hear from more clubs.
h. Over 60% were satisfied with the “value” provided by Gyro International – which includes the Board of Governors. About 20% were not satisfied to some degree with one club wanting a detailed assessment of “added value” which I assume means beyond what a club provides. The concept that the governing body must provide a defined benefit for a fee like an insurance policy is wrong. Gyro International is composed of the Clubs, the Districts and Executive Council all contributing to an organization that promotes fun and friendship. Without the governing body keeping the organization running there would be no clubs. Many members do not realize that the value of a club belonging to Gyro is the autonomy it provides to have fun and friendship as well as the perpetuation of its Club traditions under an international organization and – if it chooses – access to resources and activities provided by the governing body. I would be pleased to discuss this further with any club or member.
i. Father/son and grandfather/grandson club divisions with special activities was well supported – something that adds to recruitment and well-being of members.
j. On the question of an individual club constitution allowing women as members – 41% were in support and only 22% in opposition but on the question of Gyro universally having women members there was only 24% support and 43% opposed. Currently clubs are able to have women as members for club functions.
k. There was little support for a member discount card.
l. Offering promotional items for sale was generally supported
m. Making certificates available on-line to clubs for recognizing members was welcomed and we are already acting on that.
n. There has been concern over time as to the need for a headquarters building. The response to the survey was that 55% were neutral while 31% were in favor of eliminating the building and 14% wanted to keep the building. Given that there are no pressing issues with the property and finances are not in jeopardy, this topic will be considered in the next couple of years.
2. Membership: The membership committee has put a proposed discount card in abeyance. The focus is now on a survey to be distributed to all members soon to assess how membership can be enhanced.
3. Database Upgrade: A Member Portal has been created to replace the current Database. Key features will include less searching for information, an Events section, a Social Group section (e.g., book clubs, outdoor clubs etc.). We will inform you when it is operational – hopefully in May.
4. Club Officer Training: One of the recent priorities identified by the Board was Coaching/Mentoring and Training for Club Presidents. I am going to be asking current and past District Governors if they would be willing to assist in some capacity ranging from being available for questions to providing zoom or in-person (when safe) sessions. Training material would be made available.
5. International Conventions:
a. Winnipeg 2021 – Derek Hay, District 7 Governor is concerned that the convention may be affected by COVID so a decision on proceeding will be made by the Host Winnipeg Club in mid-May.
b. Cleveland 2022 – Tim Wright, District 1 Governor, has confirmed that the 2022 International Convention will be held June 27 to June 30 in Cleveland Ohio. The city has a rich history and amazing architecture with many attractions such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Performing Arts Center (Playhouse Square), a 140 year old zoo and even a submarine on Lake Erie!
The March issue of the Gyroscope contained interesting information on several clubs that are celebrating their 100 anniversary – see the following link https://gyro.org/gyroscope/ . The next issue will be in mid-June so we would appreciate news of your club’s recovery from the pandemic and plans for returning to normal. Please send word documents to .
Please stay safe while you keep the fun in Gyro!
PS. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions or if you want to discuss any topic for the good of Gyro. My email address is:
January 19, 2021
Happy New Year Everyone!
I am very pleased to hear that Gyros are receiving their vaccines and recovering from bouts of COVID. We still have a way to go before we are out of the woods, but we are on a better trail now.
I am inspired by reports from clubs that members are keeping in contact with each other in a variety of ways while staying safe. In December I had the pleasure of joining the Vancouver, BC club on a Zoom celebration of their 100th Anniversary. It was a great celebration with members relating their stories about themselves, Marilyn Monroe showed up to serenade us, a plaque was presented, and I noted that this club was instrumental in starting several clubs in Western Canada and Washington State. Some other noteworthy events were: Syracuse celebrated its 100 year anniversary, all of District 4 held a Christmas Cocktail Party, and New Glasgow, NS, held a virtual New Year’s Levee.
In December and January your Board of Governors and advisors met twice to continue to improve Gyro. You are represented well by a fine group of gentlemen from 24 different clubs (that represents 33% of our clubs!). Here is what has transpired recently:
1. Club Per-Capita Dues to International, for 2021-22: I am pleased to report that the Board reduced dues for the coming year by $20. This means $70 dues will be rebated by $20 for net dues of $50. This rebate is possible because approximately $25,000 surplus funds from the current year will be used to supplement the 2021-22 budget. The surplus is primarily due to no expenses for the Annual Convention and District Conventions. Some may say – why are there any dues? The response is that dues are needed to continue the basic operation of Gyro and to implement initiatives to improve the organization – see the following.
2. Member Perks: The membership committee is actively looking into providing direct member services with a financial benefit such as a discount card and/or access to groups where topics of mutual interest are discussed. Cost benefits will be carefully considered.
3. Database Upgrade: This initiative stalled last year due to cost, but a solution is now in the works – more to report in April.
4. Board Priorities: The Board completed a planning exercise that endorsed four Key Organizational Pillars as follows:
a. Membership Promotion;
b. Club Relations;
c. Sustaining Gyro; and
d. Managing Assets and Business
Under each Pillar, challenges were identified and then Board members ranked 11 of them in terms of priority. The highest priority is Membership Recruitment Enhancement. This will require funding for analysis of successful clubs and an assessment of recruitment strategies. In addition, other high priorities were the creation of a Coaching Team for Clubs and an assessment of how to enhance the Annual Convention for accessibility among other things. Stay tuned as volunteers will be sought to help with these initiatives – or volunteer now.
Please stay safe while you keep the fun in Gyro!
PS. I encourage you to contact me with anything for the good of Gyro. my email address is:
November 24, 2020
This is a time for giving thanks!
With restrictions on gatherings, Canadians found safe ways to celebrate Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and this week it is America’s time to give thanks! Happy Thanksgiving to all Gyros and their families.
We have many things that we can be thankful for at a personal level – heightened by an appreciation for the simpler things in life given the restrictions on our busy activities prior to the pandemic. With the recent Remembrance Day and Veterans Day services we are reminded of those who fought for our freedom in major wars and we are thankful our countries in North America are not in such a conflict now. The poem “In Flanders Fields”, written by a Canadian field surgeon during the war in Belgium in 1915 inspired Moina Michael of Athens Georgia to create a poppy that the American Legion adopted in 1920 as a symbol of remembrance and thanks.
In the Gyro realm, I want to recognize and thank the following:
1. New Members: In the past seven months we have welcomed 43 new members to clubs across the organization. I want to thank the clubs for their recruitment, the sponsors for encouraging their friends to join, and of course the new members for joining.
2. District Executives: In September and October six of our nine Districts changed their executive. I want to thank those who moved from Governor to Past District Governor for their service; those that moved from Lt. Governor to Governor; and those who stepped forward for election to become Lt. Governor. I am looking forward to working with the new executives on the Gyro International Board of Governors and engaging clubs more actively. To facilitate Board effectiveness, Orientation Sessions were held on Nov. 17th and 24th.
3. Clubs: I want to also thank the clubs that are continuing to engage their members by any means of communication available. It is this time when members need contact, and it is an opportunity to explore the use of different technologies.
4. Volunteers: Persons at all levels of this organization are contributing time and talents for the benefit of all of us – Thank You! By example, the gyro.org website now has a Club Resources site, an Our Clubs site for a non-member to find a club, and clubs are receiving generic websites where they did not have one before (see District IX under “Our Clubs”). Those of you that see any other need – please step forward with an idea or a proposal to your club, to the District or to me. If you just want to enlighten us, please contribute to the next Gyroscope by December 15 at . We all can use news about how others are enjoying life or finding ways to enjoy Gyro fellowship.
In closing I want to thank you for being a Gyro and please stay safe.
PS. I encourage you to contact me with anything for the good of Gyro. my email address is:
October 15, 2020
Dear Gyro Friend:
The Gyro Board of Governors is contacting you as a result of the recent reported increases in cases of COVID-19 throughout North America. This is a serious threat to many of our members given age and health conditions. We are pleased that reports of Gyro members being affected have been few and want to commend you for taking precautions these past seven months. For those whose families or friends have been affected by the virus we want to express sympathy for those who have passed. We also extend wishes for a speedy recovery for anyone testing positive and being treated for the virus.
We recognize the difficulty in maintaining friendships due to the risks of in-person meetings and support your decision to not participate in club activities if you or your loved ones have compromised immune systems. Those of us not compromised must take every precaution possible to protect those around us as well ourselves. We are pleased to hear that Club and District executives are advocating strong safety measures when hosting in-person events or have postponed events. We are also impressed by the number of gatherings and events being conducted by electronic means.
We encourage you to contact your fellow club members and personal friends frequently by phone or electronic means to keep the lines of communication open and to provide support during these trying times. It is also a good time to plan for activities over the next two years once the pandemic is under control (club celebrations, district conventions, special events, executive changes, update bylaws and procedural manuals, update websites). You can also use the time available to review the new Gyro website updates, the latest Gyroscope publication and connect with more Gyros through Facebook to share life experiences.
We care about you and are confident that Gyro will come out of this stronger than ever as people realize how important family and personal relationships are for our mutual well-being. Thank you for being a Gyro member and we look forward to enjoying your company when we get through this; in the meantime, continue to Stay Safe!
Yours in Gyro Friendship
Gyro Board of Governors:
Alan Pentney, President
Blanton Bessinger, 1st Vice-President
Peter Carter, 2nd Vice-President
Ted Shewchuk, Past President
Mike McNally, Secretary Treasurer
Timothy Wright Sr., Governor District 1
Dan Blohm, Governor District 2
Dan Bliss, Governor District 3
Matthew Williams, Governor District 4
Ross McIntosh, Governor District 6
Derek Hay, Governor District 7
Derm Jackman, Governor District 8
Mike Eisner, Governor District 9
Steve Anderson, Governor District 10
August 28, 2020
The intent of the President’s Newsletter is to keep members informed of what is happening beyond their club at the international governance level. The Board of Governors took an eight week break so there is no new decisions to report. However, it is inspiring to hear about the resilience displayed by Clubs and Districts as they meet the challenge of staying safe while socializing in a variety of ways. This says a lot about why we belong to this long standing organization. I will have more to say about being “Resilient” in my message in the September edition of the Gyroscope.
Various Districts are making plans for the Fall and the International Officers have done the same this week which I will summarize here:
1. District 4 – Convention
District IV had 3 milestones occurring this year: the Victoria Club 100 anniversary combined with an International Convention; and the Vancouver BC Club was going to host the District Convention on its 100 anniversary. All were cancelled but I am very impressed with the innovation of the Executive as they planned their Virtual Convention.
The Convention program includes an Annual General Meeting on September 12 followed by a party and installation of officers the following week on September 19. Their plan is to have a number of virtual hospitality rooms with a rotation of persons after 20 minutes. This is brilliant – since that is usually the amount of time it takes for me to be asked to leave most hospitality rooms. Some are asked before me and you know who you are. The installation will be formal with a new Governor and Lt. Governor to be sworn in. There will be a report in the Gyroscope so stay tuned.
2. District 7 Convention
I was really looking forward to the DVII convention this fall in Thunder Bay Ontario where I started my first job out of college. The Nor-West Club was to celebrate 50 years. In lieu of face-to face, Governor John Barber is arranging a Virtual Annual General Meeting and Installation in the evening on October 1. John Stephenson, Nor-West President, is Host and Lord Derek Hay of Winnipeg will be incoming Governor.
3. District 1 Convention
The planned District I convention in Akron Ohio is now going to be a smaller event in nearby Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, on October 3. But given that there are no club members that need to cross an international border, this Convention will be in person. Bonnie and Blanton Bessinger, International 1st Vice-President, will be doing their best to attend from St. Paul MN.
4. District 3 Event
This event is so secret I’m not sure the organizers know what is going on. It is going to occur in October, maybe, and could involve incoming Governor Dan Bliss’s tasty concoction. I’m going to be in Toronto around that time so I hope to get an invite.
5. Bryan Flanigan Recognition
I am very sad that I had to miss Past 2nd Vice-President Bryan Flanigan’s dedication ceremony held at the International Headquarters by the Painesville Club on July 31. Thank you Governor John Hollendonner, Lt. Governor Tim Wright Sr., Chris Snider, PIP and others for organizing this recognition of his Gyro service. The Gyroscope will have more information
6. Centennial Clubs
As we all know, the organization started in 1912 so having a club achieve a 100th anniversary is to be expected. Surprisingly to me, only two active clubs have achieved the 100 year milestone to date. These are Buffalo in 2016 and Toronto in 2019 (still waiting for that celebration). This year congratulations are extended to Syracuse NY and Vancouver BC on their respective centennials. Then in 2021 seven clubs will join them including the Convention Host Winnipeg. Another eleven follow in 2022-24. This shows the surge of gyro growth a hundred years ago across the continent – remarkable. I am planning on contacting centennial club executives to determine an appropriate Gyro International recognition to commemorate their achievement.
7. District Executive Orientation Seminar
As you can tell by this letter there is a changing of the guard occurring in most Districts this fall. In the past, training seminars were held at the International Convention to target Club executives and some new District executives – although everyone took advantage of the learning experience. However, the topics primarily focussed on membership and social media. It has been noted over time that communication from International Officers to Governors to Clubs and members has not always met expectations with a resulting lack of knowledge of resources, responsibilities and opportunities occurring at all levels. The good news is – in the past 2 years there has been good engagement by Governors in virtual Board meetings on all topics that make the organization run. So to maintain this momentum, increase communication and to avoid new Board members trying to absorb information during meetings, it has been decided by the Officers that a virtual seminar or two if necessary will be organized this fall for District Executives to be better informed and more productive in meetings and in dealings within their District.
As noted in my last newsletter, the next Board of Governors meeting is scheduled for September 9 at 6 PM CDT so if you wish to observe, please send me a request and you can be added to the invite. Another important date is the deadline for the next Gyroscope on September 15. We all can use news about how others are enjoying life or finding ways to enjoy Gyro fellowship.
Keep the Fun in Gyro!
PS. I encourage you to contact me – several have this past while with useful information. Here is my email address:
July 24, 2020
I really hope each of you and your families are keeping well and staying safe. It is quite a challenge to remain alert when venturing out in the public. Giving others a wide berth takes planning and remembering to wear a mask and to wash hands also takes an effort – but it is important because this disease is not to be taken lightly. Apparently, it also has long lasting side effects. Speaking of long-lasting, Tara and I are on day 40 of moving to a new home – whew – never again.
Your Board of Governors has been too busy to get out so is staying safe.
1. By-Laws Update
This Spring Immediate Past President Matthew Johnson asked PIP Ian Greig to “modernize” the Constitution and By-Laws. Blanton Bessinger, International 1st Vice President, was included in the review that went to the Board for discussion on June 17 and July 8. The following are key changes approved to the By-Laws (the Constitution can only be amended at a Convention):
a) When notice is provided to a Club or a Club is to provide notice to Gyro International then it may be by mail or electronic means – removed telegraphs.
b) If a Convention cannot be held in person, as happened this year, then, a convention will be held by any means feasible – meaning a web-based meeting using audio visual for all clubs to participate.
c) Also, we removed a number of outdated sections that are no longer relevant.
The ‘Revised’ document, which was unanimously approved, is now on our website (‘OTHER INFO’ / CONSTITUTION & BY-LAWS).
2. Betterment Fund: Board of Directors and Board of Trustees
The Board approved the addition of two new Directors to the Betterment Fund Board. I want to thank Past District Governors Ross Davis, District 7 and Roger Lindley, District 9 for agreeing to sit on the Board with PDG Lew Lause of District 1, as well as PIP’s Ted Shewchuk and Matt Johnson. The Fund has had an infusion of funds and the Board increased the amounts that clubs can access to recruit new members. Please visit the gyro.org website – ‘SPECIAL FUNDS’ – to review the new application form, fund description and a pledge form, as donations are welcomed. I also want to recognize the three trustees who track funds: PIP Dana Davidson, District 3, PIP Chuck Field, District 7 and newly appointed PIP Harold Bernard, District 6. Thank you, gentlemen for volunteering.
3. Website Enhancements
Peter Carter, International 2nd Vice President, has taken over Chair of the Technology Committee and immediately began making welcomed changes to the website. Please visit gyro.org and view the ‘WHAT’S NEW’ Section, which identifies additions/changes to the website, such as: more visual identity for District & Clubs , an updated Gyroscope Page, Gyro Store and information about the next two International Conventions; more.
4. New District 10 (Florida) Governor
I was very excited to hear that Steve Anderson of the Caloosa Club has been installed as Governor, District 10. Steve and his wife Patty are great supporters of Gyro. They think nothing of jumping in a car and traveling across the continent to visit Gyro friends especially at organized events. Steve also has recently come up with a proposal to find members – see item #5, below. I do not want to steal the Secretary-Treasurer’s thunder in announcing the Awards for the past year, but I can’t help but note that the Caloosa Club had the most new members added for a small Club in Gyro. Steve might have something to do with that.
5. Member Recruitment at Independent Living Communities
Steve recommends that “independent living communities” could be an excellent opportunity for marketing Gyro. Given the constraints on socializing it has been especially hard to pass time without interacting with likeminded people. Once socializing is able to be done safely persons “cooped up” for months will be eager to find persons to converse with. Combine this with the Betterment Fund assistance and this is another opportunity to grow Gyro.
The next Board of Governors meeting is scheduled for September 9 at 6 PM CDT so if you wish to observe, please send me a request and you can be added to the invite. Another important date is the deadline for the next Gyroscope: September 15. We all can use news about how others are enjoying life or finding ways to enjoy Gyro fellowship.
Keep the Fun in Gyro!
PS. If you want to contact me, here is my emails address:
June 26, 2020
I sincerely hope all of you and your families are taking all recommended precautions to lower the risk of the COVID virus. Last month I sent an email about the new Executive and this month I wanted to report on budget items endorsed by the Board of Governors on June 17. The Budget has a substantial surplus because there is no Travel for International or District Conventions this year. As a result, the Board is anticipating that there will be a noticeable reduction in the Dues for the next budget year when invoices go out in March.
1) Virtual Meeting Fund
One of the best ways to stay in contact with your Gyro friends now is the use of web-based software platform like Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangout, or ezTalks. Some of these have a free program but these can have limitations. As a result the Board of Governors identified funds, under the committees line item, for reimbursing Clubs if they wish to purchase a program for 5 months to host meetings. All we ask is that you commit to hosting meetings and that a receipt is submitted for no more than $75 US or $100 CAD. to the International Office Manager, Sheila Kucera at . Peter Carter, 2nd Vice President would be pleased to assist you in obtaining a program and learning to host – email .
2) Website Updates
The Budget also included funds to bring all Club websites to a state where they are either maintained by Clubs; are provided assistance to post information or are provided with a generic website that directs inquiries to the International website. This initiative will commence in the Fall. The benefit will be prospective members and current members will have easy access to information that is current or is able to contact the Headquarters to get information on Club contacts or Gyro resources. Each Club will be contacted to determine its needs prior to any changes being made.
I, also, plan to pass information on to you in the near future about happenings in Gyro including the 2019-20 Award winners, By-Law changes and the Betterment Fund for recruiting new members.
Stay Safe and Keep the Fun in Gyro!
PS. If you want to contact me, here is my emails address: