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February 2007 RVC Column

(Written and posted 1/8/07)

Northwest Passages

RVC Column for February Newsletters in Region 8
by John Recht, Region 8 RVC

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Mensa. Everything that happens in our Local Groups, and at the regional and national levels, is the result of people stepping forward to take on jobs so that we all may benefit. Fortunately, Mensa has had a lot of success over the years, and had many terrific events, because thousands of members have offered to help out. To have so many opportunities to interact with our fellow Mensans is one of the great advantages of being a Mensa member, and it follows exactly in accordance with one of Mensa's purposes, which is to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.

Since the beginning of December, two volunteers have stepped forward in Region 8 to take on the challenge of leading their Local Groups. By chance, both the largest and smallest groups in Region 8 have new LocSecs: Erinn Height in San Francisco Regional Mensa (SFRM), and Mark Mitchell in Columbia River Mensa (CRM).

Erinn and Mark both had to face difficult circumstances in their groups at the very moment that they took on their jobs, and they acted swiftly and firmly to get on top of the situations they inherited. I'm certain that they will be excellent leaders, and that they will be supported by willing and able volunteers. As a part of their job, both Erinn and Mark will have to help train and develop the next generation of leaders in their Local Groups. That is also what I am doing for the region as a whole, and it is one way to help assure that Mensa will continue to succeed in the future.

Mark's situation was particularly poignant. About two hours after he was elected LocSec, Mark received the news that his Treasurer, Les Aldrich, had passed away. Les was a member of Mensa for more than 40 years, and he will be missed very much. Fortunately, Alma Lewandowski, the former LocSec, will remain involved as a Proctor for CRM, and Mark will also have other experienced hands to help him as he transitions into his new position. Very small groups don't always have the luxury of drawing on volunteer resources such as Mark will have, but the result is that CRM, with 88 members as of 12/31/06, will have the opportunity to continue to provide for their members.

As LocSec of SFRM, Erinn now leads the third largest Local Group in American Mensa, with 1,900 members as of 12/31/06. Clearly, it is impossible to be in close contact with everyone in SFRM, so having experienced volunteers is just as important for Erinn as it is for Mark. In a very large group, one has to delegate responsibility, and one must trust and count on key volunteers to do their jobs. Nevertheless, Erinn will need to get deeply involved when an issue requires her to be there, as she did right from the start of her term with a thorny, emotional issue that had embroiled SFRM's ExCom for some time. I know that Erinn is absolutely committed to the success of SFRM and its members, and I am confident in her ability to bring the issue she inherited to a satisfactory conclusion, hopefully by the time this column appears in print.

So if you are a Mensa member who wishes to do more for the society, please remember that this is a do-it-yourself organization, and help out in any way you can. Your volunteer leaders will welcome your energy and support, and so will your fellow members. You can start by coming to an event, offering to help with an event, or by starting your own event and getting it on your local calendar. If you wish to do more, contact your LocSec and see what the Local Group needs to have done. With your help, together we will keep Mensa strong and viable for many years to come.