Introducing DAR's One Millionth Member: Amy Dickinson

Written by: Denise Doring VanBuren, President General
October 5, 2019

I am so pleased to introduce to you one of our newest DAR members: Amy Dickinson, National Number 1000000.

Watch this introductory video here

Some of you may know of Amy from her nationally syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in more than 150 newspapers across the country 365 days a year, reaching an estimated 22 million readers daily. In 2003, The Chicago Tribune introduced “Ask Amy” as its new advice column after almost a half-century of running the beloved Ann Landers advice column. Amy is also the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances,” a chronicle of her experiences and misadventures as a single mother to her daughter. In her follow-up memoir, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home,” Amy shares her journey through the challenges of life’s twists and turns.

While our DAR Million Members Celebration highlights all of our outstanding members over our 129-year history, we did need one woman who could represent the campaign to give it greater public attention – and someone who was willing to have her story shared in a very public way. As it became clear that the timing of the completion of Amy’s DAR Application would coincide with when we were nearing our millionth national number, it seemed as if fate was lighting our path. And so, I was overjoyed when Amy agreed to join our campaign in a very public way to celebrate one million members in service to God, Home and Country.

I first met Amy earlier this year at the prestigious Horatio Alger Awards Ceremony held in our DAR Constitution Hall. Amy was one of the honorees receiving the 2019 Horatio Alger Award, which is bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite adversity, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable endeavors through their lives. I encouraged her to consider joining the DAR (as I do with almost every woman I meet!), and she showed great interest.

After hearing Amy speak at the ceremony and afterward learning more about her life and her interests, I recognized in her many of the qualities of service and passion that we find in so many of our DAR members, and so I was absolutely thrilled when she enthusiastically began to pursue the DAR membership Application process. It turns out that Amy’s maternal grandmother was a DAR member and – my heart soared when she disclosed her family still owns the farmstead of her Patriot ancestor Benjamin Genung. 

Let me share this delightful note Amy sent me as she was working through the Application process:

THE JOY! Yes, I am right now looking out on the land he [her Patriot ancestor Benjamin Genung] first plowed in 1790, when he arrived from NJ, with an ox and a wagon, and settled on this land grant. I am happy that this link has been discovered, because my dear beloved and late mother Jane's last name was Genung, and without any male heirs, the name has disappeared. So this makes me very happy.

Isn’t it always so rewarding seeing the emotion that women experience when discovering the details of their lineage for their DAR Application -- and how those long-ago ancestors connect them to history?

When I read Amy’s book “The Mighty Queens of Freeville” and realized how important the strong women in her life were to her perseverance through tough times, it reminded me of so many of our DAR members who have resilient bonds with their mothers, daughters and other female family members. I knew then that Amy was coming to the right place by joining the DAR, and I knew she would bring an energy and passion to our mission.

While it’s impossible, of course, to select just one woman who could adequately symbolize our entire membership, we hoped the anticipation of assigning National Number 1000000 would garner a lot of interest and excitement. That member needed to be someone willing to relinquish her privacy in order for us to not only shine a spotlight on her but also help us promote DAR membership to our next million members in a very public way. We are grateful to Amy for allowing us to shine this light on her.

With her deep interest in her family’s history and a very modern-day livelihood, Amy Dickinson represents both the determination and strength of our past members, as well as the diverse interests and backgrounds of our contemporary members. I believe that her passion for history, her strong female relationships and her daily resonance with readers nationwide combine to personify a great example of Today’s DAR. We are grateful for Amy’s enthusiasm to embrace our organization and to help us celebrate the one million women that she has now joined in DAR sisterhood.

I invite you to learn more about Amy’s excitement in joining DAR in this special video and tune in on Monday for a second video that explores her early years growing up with family challenges, the life of an advice columnist and her decision to move back to her small town to be closer to family (and finding love along the way). Please join me in welcoming Amy Dickinson into DAR membership – and in our quest to attract and retain thousands more women like her in order to ensure that our enduring mission of service will continue.

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