a view from the Board Side “Summertime”
By Dick Hagerty, Advisory board member
“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.”
So went the lyrics of that Nat King Cole song popular many years ago.
Many of our advisory organizations view summer as just that—lazy and hazy—and suspend meetings and operations for the summer months. That is a trap we need to avoid. In fact, summer can be our most productive time of year when we put our minds to making it so.
The tradition likely started because of vacations, on the part of board and council members, and also the weeks that officers are away on annual leave. But, our community needs never take a vacation, and the reality of meeting those needs knows no season.
In some cases, boards will suspend meetings for July and August. I do not recommend this practice, but if that is the case it is doubly important that you have a well-organized and functioning executive committee to pick up the slack, to meet regularly and to take care of any business that may occur.
Summer presents its own special community service needs. Many of our Western Territory locations experience hot summertime conditions. Several years ago the heat wave was especially fierce here in California’s Central Valley, and local governments asked any and all charitable organizations with proper facilities to open as “cooling centers.” These are much like the “warming centers” that we often operate in below freezing conditions in winter.
Our local Army unit did just that, but it took some quick reaction time on the part of the board as the officers were away on vacation. Staffing, proper facilities, cooling capacity—all had to be quickly evaluated and put into operation. During that particular heat wave more than a dozen people died in our surrounding area, and our cooling center was well used each and every day until the heat abated.
Summer is when the children are out of school and most need access to any recreational and safe facilities we may have available. Again, this takes planning, budgeting and the ability to fit these special needs into our already overstressed programs. Kids who would normally receive their only nutritious meals at school must be considered as we plan feeding programs for street people and homeless individuals.
Summer is also camping season for The Salvation Army. Find out when your young people are attending camp, take a day off and drive to your divisional camp and experience what they are enjoying in this great annual outing. Camp leaders are thrilled to know that advisory board members care enough to drop by and observe these important activities.
Summer is the best, in fact, the only time to begin planning for Christmas. Our Christmas committee starts planning six months out. Wait until September and you will never catch up with the planning process.
Donations and contributions typically drop off in summertime. This puts a greater load on balancing budgets. Creative ways to generate summer income should be aggressively explored. We try to find special fundraising events for the summer doldrums, such as golf tournaments, gourmet dinners, and so on.
And, of course, in great Army tradition, officer moves normally occur in the summer. So every few years your board must gear up for the special needs attendant to the arrival of the new officers.
Perhaps this is a good moment to remind our readers of the document “The First 30 Days,” discussed and presented in this column last year. If you are getting new officers, email me for a copy that will guide this transition.
So, enjoy the slower pace of the coming summer months, but remember that the calendar gives no breaks for those whom we serve.
Contact Dick at email@example.com