|JUNE 2009 --
The future and growth of our Granges has been the topic of many meetings over the last several months as part of a program initiated by National Membership/Leadership Director Rusty Hunt. Last fall, State Master Sendewicz appointed two teams (East and West) to work with Granges on revitalization and growth. As part of the training for this program, Brother Hunt came to Connecticut to facilitate two meetings with two different Granges, Hemlock Grange No. 180 in Portland and Wallingford Grange No. 33.
At these meetings members look at their activities and programs and decide, with an open mind, where their Granges should go in the future.
Hemlock and Wallingford are very different. At Wallingford there is a definite need to add new members and to redistribute responsibilities from the shoulders of a few members. Their Grange also has members who primarily reside outside of the community in which their hall sits. A need to reestablish their ties to the Wallingford Community is a goal identified by the Grange.
Hemlock Grange has very strong ties to their community with their commitment to the Portland Agricultural Fair and their other programs which benefit their community. Hemlock members see a need to do a little less work and add more social activities to their schedule. Their initial meeting also resulted in two new applications for membership.
Both Granges are now working to meet the goals they identified in their first meetings. The team members are committed to attending their meetings and providing whatever assistance and guidance is necessary to help them be successful. Brother Hunt also stays in touch with their progress with regular reports provided by the teams following each meeting.
This year marks the 124th anniversary of Wallingford Grange. The celebration of this milestone was combined with their presentation of membership awards and their community citizen award. Attendance at their special meeting held on May 28 was 94. Their project in coming weeks is to approach some of the people who attended the special meeting and see if they will become new members of the Grange.
The theory behind this program is that revitalized Granges can become a catalyst for growth and revitalization for Granges surrounding them. Members from many other Granges have attended the first meetings of these Granges, so an interest in revitalization is definitely there. It is also hoped that this program will encourage the organization and reorganization of new Granges throughout the state.
This program is definitely not a “quick fix” for any Grange and the training for the members of the teams is ongoing. Jody Cameron, Todd Gelineau and Victor Salazar will represent Connecticut at the Grange Growth Summit to be held in Dubuque, Iowa June 12-14. It is designed to provide members with the tools necessary to encourage revitalization and to become better ambassadors for the Grange. In September, State Master Sendewicz and State Steward Jeff Barnes are planning on attending another Summit to be held in Virginia. Look for more articles following the Grange Growth Summit.