Reaching Out To Today’s Teenagers

teenagers (free clip art)

teenagers (free clip art)

By Linda Bradshaw, Past District Governor (Rapidan District, 2015):

As I traveled to the various local Ruritan Clubs in the Rapidan District, to Leadership Conferences, AVR fellowship meetings, and National Conventions and talked with members of other community service organizations, I’ve found myself discussing the needs of all Community Service Clubs to become attractive to a younger demographic. Whether we like it or not, if our clubs are going to survive much longer, all of our clubs are going to need to find ways to recruit and retain younger members.

Most of the people I’ve listened to tell me that they are convinced that the younger generation, the teenagers, and the young adults in college are too self-absorbed, are too deeply engrossed in their iphones, ipads, and other electronic devices to be interested in performing community service.

My reply, to this statement, has been “I understand what you are saying, and why you are saying it, but I disagree.” I firmly believe that today’s youth are extremely interested in performing community service. We just need to find a way to reach these younger people, become attractive to them, recruit and retain them.

Doing this is a multi-step process.

First step is “reaching” the younger people. One of the best ways to do this, using today’s resources, is through Social Media. Smart, efficient use of the Internet, by creating a blog-style website, (using the right formats and Search Optimization practices) that will cross-post to a Facebook page is a cheap (as in free, or almost free) way to make ourselves easily found by anyone who is looking for our clubs.

In the recent past I found myself discussing that situation with my 28-year-old son. He has always been interested in, and involved in, community service projects through his schools, and his life. I asked him for some insights and suggestions on the subject, and he gave me a lot to think about, which I have shared with the Ruritan organization in various ways during the past several years.

Shortly after the discussion, he sent me an email, suggesting that I read this blog post about 5 ways to inspire teenagers to take an interest in community service. I just finished reading it, and felt that the article certainly has enough good points and value that it is worth sharing here. Please click on this link to read the article: 5 Ways To Take An Interest in Community Service.

Reading the article may be helpful as you consider ways to appeal to the younger generations that our clubs would be wise to include in our membership.

In the near future I hope to provide a post that discusses ways to make our Ruritan Clubs attractive to another demographic group – the empty nesters. In the mean-time, please consider the fact that almost every one of your friends, family, and neighbors is someone who can provide some type of value to a community service club. Please don’t just dismiss them because their skill set is different from your own.

The world, and our clubs, need a variety of people to survive. Creating and running a community takes a lot of different people.

We need to find ways to embrace the differences, include the variety, welcome the unique individuals, not exclude them, scorn them, shun, or curse them!

Outgoing District Governor Remarks

Linda Bradshaw

Linda Bradshaw

From the desk of the 2015 District Governor, Linda Bradshaw:

In the interest of keeping my remarks as brief as possible during the Rapidan District Convention, I decided to post some of the information that is normally verbalized during a convention, and post it here on our website instead. That way, only the people really interested will take the time to read it, instead of being “held hostage” to a long-winded speech at the convention. According to the guidelines in the handbook of what an outgoing Governor is supposed to say (how many meetings I attended, how many miles I travelled, and special accomplishments) during a speech at the awards banquet, here are the highlights of what I “would have” said.

This past year, so far, I have managed to attend the meetings, and be the featured speaker, of 20 local Ruritan Clubs. I have attended, 3 club picnics, and the 75th anniversary party of the East Orange Club. In addition, I have gone to the Ruritan National Convention in Greensboro last January, the Ruritan National Leadership Conference in Dublin last June, and all four of the Rapidan District’s Zone meetings. Doing that, I’ve travelled over 3,588 miles. I would like to thank my friends (Hank and Donna Smith) and family (husband Michael Urbanek and sister Lori Horton) for helping me to get to and from all of these meetings and events.

Special accomplishments during my leadership over the past two years include getting a free PSA commercial designed, produced, and aired, on a local public television station in Spotsylvania, designing and maintaining a website and Facebook page for the District, and offering online club officer training here at today’s convention for the first time in this District’s history.

I have researched, to the best of my ability, who the military veterans are in this district, honored them on our website, and personally presented them with certificates of appreciation from the Rapidan District when I was allowed to visit their club.

I have reached out to several of the area’s Governor’s Schools and Boys and Girls Clubs and got them to agree to consider a mutually beneficial relationship regarding introducing the concept of youth involvement and membership in Ruritan, with local Ruritan clubs if the local clubs will contact them to make arrangements.

I have put forth several innovative ideas about increasing membership, such as reaching out to Home Schooling families, and offered my support in pursuing those ideas to the clubs.

I have taught a workshop to interested local clubs on creating websites. I have offered to teach local clubs on a one-to-one basis, how to create websites. That offer still stands – if your club wants to meet with me, at my house, to learn how to create a website, call or email me, and we will schedule a date.

I held a short workshop about the benefits of creating club websites at last year’s National Convention, and I will be holding a more intensive workshop where we will actually create websites at the National Convention in Jacksonville in January 2016.

I would like to thank the Cabinet members who have stood with me over the past two years. They have helped me with their much needed advice, listened to me vent on numerous occasions, and rolled up their sleeves and worked to keep the District running. They had an enormous role in putting on this convention. I cannot stress enough how I could not have done much of this without their support.

Guest Speaker Suggestion – LifeNet Health

Life Net Health Logo

Life Net Health Logo

From the Desk of the 2015 Rapidan District Governor, Linda Bradshaw:

We received a message through our contact form on this website from an organization that I think may be worthy of consideration for possible guest speaker(s) at our local Ruritan Clubs. Below is the copy and paste message from the contact form.

Hello, I am the Community Education Coordinator for LifeNet Health for this region. LifeNet Health is the federally-designated Organ Procurement Organization for most of Virginia and part of West Virginia. LifeNet Health is also one of the largest, most respected tissue banks in the country. We are responsible for all of the organ and tissue donations in our service area. As such we are also responsible for providing education about organ and tissue donation to correct the many myths and misconceptions about donation that exist in our community.

I’m writing to let you know about our speaker’s bureau. Our speakers are donor family members and transplant recipients who share their personal stories about donation as well as providing the facts about how the donation process works.

We would love to provide a speaker for an upcoming Ruritans Rapidan meeting. Please contact me at or by phone at 804-317-4811 to arrange a speaker.

Thanks for your consideration.

Patti Dean

Here are two YouTube videos about their organization:

Their website is can be accessed by clicking the following link: Life Net Health Website

Membership Drives – Look To Home-School Families

Home School (free clip art)

Home School (free clip art)

From the Desk of the District Governor:

Many local Ruritan Clubs are interested in increasing their membership numbers. Consider reaching out to local Home-School families.

There are over a million Home-School children in the United States. There are a lot of websites that have statistics about how many there are in each state. One such website that we have looked at, a2zhomeschooling dot com, has a chart, broken down by state, that shows how many children are home-schooled in the United States. Here is a copy of that chart:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Home Schoolers are going to need Community Service credits to get into college. Their parents will want to be involved, too, and (if we play our cards right) the parents are likely to stay members of the Ruritan Clubs after their kids leave for college! In today’s society, the young generation that is going off to college now (referred to as the “millennial or boomerang generation”) are expected to come back home to live with their parents for a significant number of years before moving out on their own. According to Forbes magazine, a full 24% of 25 to 34 year-olds now live with their parents!

One benefit of reaching out to the Home-Schoolers is that they can stop what they are doing in the middle of the day and come help you with your middle of the school day events without worrying about missing school! There are thousands of potential members to be found in the Home-School community, and they are not hard to find. You can find them by Googling “Homeschool (town name) VA.” You will be surprised how many Home schooling groups you will find! You will find contact names and emails and telephone numbers!

One online resource to find Home School Support Groups sorted by Counties in Virginia can be found on the Home Educators Association of Virginia’s website here: Home Educators Association of Virginia’s Support Group Directory

One online resource to help find Home School Support Groups and Resources anywhere in the USA can be found here: Local Homeschool Dot Com’s Website

Reach out to these groups, offer to come visit their groups to talk about the Ruritan Clubs, or invite them to come to a Ruritan meeting!

When you recruit these youths, don’t just assign them to stacking chairs and tables, or cleaning up trash. Ask them what their passion is, and let them choose (or create) a project about their passion! Kids are passionate about something – maybe animals (a project about humane society,) the environment (recycling and road-side clean-up,) homeless people (homeless shelter,) hunger (food drive for local food pantry,) or elderly (care packages for nursing homes, or busy aprons for alzheimer’s patients) are just a few ideas that the kids can spear-head. Or make them the webmaster of your new website! Get them (and their parents) involved in something the kids are passionate about, and their parents are likely to stay on as club members to continue those projects after the kids have left for college because it will help the parents feel connected to their kids after they have left home (helping the parents cope with empty nest syndrome and it will give the parents something to talk about with their kids when the kids call home!)

There are literally thousands of potential Ruritan members in the Home-Schooling community. We just need to reach out to them and invite them to join with us!