Fellow Ganders of the St. Louis Pond ~
We did it! We organized and executed an incredible convention here in St. Louis last month at the Hilton at the Ballpark. The events were fantastic, the food was fabulous and the entertainment was exemplary! The following thank you excerpt will give you a sense of how well the convention was received by those attending:
“Thank you for a wonderful convention. It was outstanding! You really gave us a taste of St. Louis. We enjoyed every single activity. Thank you for your warm hospitality.”
We have received many such thank you notes from members that attended our convention from all around the United States and Canada. As such, I cannot say enough of the incredible job that Patty Semke and the St. Louis Convention Committee did in organizing the convention. Thank you all so much!
I also wanted to take a moment to update you on some of the highlights from the Grand Nest meetings during the convention. As you may know, the convention is one that is attended by delegates from the various Ponds in the Blue Goose. This year at the convention we had nearly 90 percent of our total number of Ponds represented. The Grand Nest officers were quite pleased at that turn out.
The Central Region of Ponds (of which St. Louis is a member Pond) took home the Regional Challenge Award, which is the best region in membership growth based on a number of categories. The Central Region during the fiscal year ended June 2016 had positive net membership growth of over one hundred members and had a net increase in Ponds with two new Ponds receiving their charter in St. Louis. The new Ponds are Cincinnati and Northeast Ohio. The Blue Goose is alive and well and looking to expand upon its influence of promoting its mission of advancing the precepts of ‘giving back,’ to our communities in charity, to ourselves in character development and to each other in good fellowship. There was also a constitution amendment that was passed by the delegates in St. Louis. Effective immediately there are now four geographical regions in the Blue Goose, including the Central, South and Eastern United States plus Canada. Together with this is that the Grand Nest officers for convention host cities is trimmed to four. The upcoming convention sites included Savannah, Georgia in 2017, Edmonton, Alberta in 2018, Indianapolis, Indiana in 2019 and Hartford, Connecticut in 2020. The convention planning cycle has therefore been shortened to four years as well.
The convention in 2019 in Indianapolis is the newly constructed Central Region convention. Once I completed my tour as MLGG and the constitutional amendment passed, Kim Bilbrey, who was elected as a Grand Nest officer from the western region, merged with us in the Central. Indianapolis promises to be a wonderful location for a convention. And, as a corollary to this merging of the regions per the amendment, there was no newly elected Grand Nest officer in that the Grand Keeper is now an appointed position. And, believe it or not, the new MLGG appointed me to serve in that role.
And finally, there has also been some new changes in leadership at the Grand Nest level. Of course, the advancing line officers moved up and Linda Meik of the Texas Pond is our new Most Loyal Grand Gander. She has a huge heart for the Blue Goose and its principals and traditions and will be an outstanding leader for the Order. Additionally, there were some major appointments. John Bishop, PMLGG from the Nova Scotia Pond, has been appointed to serve as our new Grand Historian. John is a wonderful person who cares deeply about the Order and will be a fantastic Grand Historian. And, Lorena Kohlruss, PMLGG from the Alberta Pond, has been appointed to serve as our new Judge Advocate. Lorena is excited for this opportunity and I believe that she will do a great job. We are in a good place with these new additions to the Grand Nest board in that they have the experience with the Order as PMLGGs and have a strong willingness to do a fantastic job for the Order. All on the Grand Nest board are committed to continuing the path of growth, communication, organization and a return to our precepts that has been the hallmark of the board for these past few years. The Blue Goose is relevant again and we should all do our part to help the insurance community see it through our efforts to ‘give back.’ It is our actions that get noticed, not our words … we have to be able to walk the talk.
My final thanks to all of the members of the St. Louis Pond for your kind support and encouragement to the process of serving our Order in this special way. We have a wonderful legacy here in St. Louis having now hosting three conventions. During my acceptance speech last July in Baltimore I indicated that I was dedicating my year in office to Chuck Cramer. He served as MLGG in fiscal 2001 and reigned over the Gateway to Fun in 2001. We lost Chuck while I was serving the Order and I wanted to honor the great person that he was … so full of faith and love and character. He was a true mentor and role model for me and I will always cherish his memory.
I hope that we have another wonderful year of service in the Blue Goose. And, hey, maybe soon we can do this all over again and petition to host the convention.
Thank you all for the support you have shown to me and my family as we had the honor of serving this wonderful Order.
Past Most Loyal Grand Gander (2016)
Honorable Order of the Blue Goose International