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!

Local Ruritan Leaders Attend National Conference

L-R: Sarah Kelly, Linda Bradshaw

L-R: Sarah Kelly, Linda Bradshaw

Sarah Kelly and Linda Bradshaw attended the 2015 Ruritan National Summer Leadership Conference June 18-20 at the New River Community College in Dublin, VA. While they were there, they learned about new programs to improve America’s communities and revitalize the community service organization.

The conference was sponsored by the Ruritan National Office in Dublin, VA. as part of the organization’s ongoing training program for volunteer leaders.

Sarah is a member of the Stonewall District Ruritan Club in Winchester, and is the National Director of the Rapidan and Rockingham Districts.

Linda is a member of the Lignum Ruritan Club in Culpeper and is the Rapidan District’s Governor and Publicity Chair.

Attendees of the conference included Ruritan District Governors, Lt. Governors and Area Governors from Districts and Areas across 25 states, as well as other District leaders along with a host of volunteer speakers and seminar leaders.

At the conference, participants also met with national volunteer leaders and Ruritan staff members to discuss current issues and activities that affect Ruritan clubs and Ruritan members in their districts and areas. Some of the topics discussed included growth and development, leadership training, publicity, the Ruritan Foundation, and legal issues.

Conference participants represented 28,000 Ruritan members in over 40 Ruritan Districts and Areas that reach from the tidewater area of Virginia to the corn belts of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

Volunteers Needed!

Volunteer (free clip art)

Volunteer (free clip art)

Do you have the generosity of spirit that it takes to help not just your local Ruritan Club, but all of the Ruritan Clubs in the Rapidan District move forward? We need volunteers to serve on the District Cabinet! Specifically at this moment we need a Youth Activity Coordinator!

We have LOTS of great ideas on what the Youth Activity Coordinator can do, and how it can be accomplished, but we need someone to join in with the brainstorming, roll up their sleeves with us and help us “get it done!” We sure could use your help this year, and next year, too! We’d really appreciate having someone dedicated to Ruritan help us develop a guide of ideas, suggestions, and resources for the local clubs in respect to Ruritan youth, and help make sure the local clubs have access to the resources we pull together.

We care about our youth, right? After all, our clubs spend so much time raising money to award scholarships for students to further their education! Our youth need more than that, and we can give it to them! And we need what they can do for us! Perfect partners!

This is TEAMWORK we’re talking about, you would NOT be “on your own” with no help and lots of pressure. This will be fulfilling work, helping to get community youths involved in community service and the Ruritan organization. This is NOT going to be about pressuring clubs to “Create Ruri-Teen Clubs or Perish” – this is creative, “out of the box” thinking and planning. Won’t you join with us and help to keep Ruritan relevant to our communities and our youths?

You say you don’t know what that position is, or what it does? Here is the “position description” taken from page 36 of the official Ruritan Club and District Officer’s Handbook:

Youth Activity Coordinator

Duties of the Youth Coordinator

  1. Developing a youth activity program that helps serve the needs of youth in their communities.
  2. Providing opportunities through working agreements with other organizations that share the same values as Ruritans.
  3. Identifying, training, nurturing, and developing the leader­ship of our youth, which is vital to the future of Ruritan.

Strategies for District Youth Programs

A. Expanding opportunities with organizations with which Ruritan already has a working agreement.

B.  Identifying and developing working agreements with other organizations that will help us reach our goal.

C. Encouraging clubs who sponsor youth, or youth activi­ties, to make recipients aware of what our organization is all about.

D. Encouraging clubs to involve more youth in club meet­ings, i.e., invite youth to a meeting before sending them to a sponsored event and let them know what is expected of them and then invite them back after the event for a report.

E. Encouraging submission of youth related articles and events for inclusion in the Ruritan Magazine or Ruritan Newsletter and in district publications.

F.  Where applicable, encouraging zone or district meetings, on at least an annual basis, of high school Ru­ritan club members, Ruritan Student members, and other interested youth to discuss benefits, problems, or other issues related to Ruritan involvement or membership.

Interested? Fill out the form! We will get back to you!

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