Keeping Chapters Strong

November 20, 2013

On the national level, we have several ways to monitor the health of a chapter and to offer assistance when needed, including a policy that a chapter regent may not serve more than six years in a row.  I’d like to share with you a success story because of that policy.

The Robert Raines Chapter of Navasota, Texas was organized in August 1913 at the home of the organizing regent, Annie Foster Templeman with 17 members. The magnificient home was built for the Templemans when they were newlyweds in the mid-1890’s.  The chapter was named for Mrs. Templeman’s patriot.  

In 2006 the chapter received a letter from the Office of the Organizing Secretary General advising the very capable Regent, Hazel Cannon, that she needed to find a replacement for her position.  Hazel and longtime member Laura Purcell contacted their division chair, Mae Bruce, and asked for help.  As a result, several of us met with Laura Purcell, Joyce Smithers, pending member Ann Fuqua, Mae Bruce and Lisa Lents (a member of the Lady Washington Chapter in Houston who had a second home in the Navasota area).

We carefully evaluated the current membership, showed Ann and Laura how to use e-Membership (and were pleased to see Ann’s papers had been verified), and spent hours discussing ways to strengthen the 93 year-old chapter.  Lisa offered to give a program and to have joint events with her chapter.  Armed with new enthusiasm, the Robert Raines Chapter did the following:

  • ·         The members invited women they knew from church, clubs and other organizations to their meetings and featured them in newspaper articles about the chapter’s activities. 
  • ·         For those interested in becoming members, they distributed pedigree charts and then helped prepare the applications.
  • ·         They invited speakers from the community to give programs and found that it helped the community feel involved with the chapter.
  • ·         State officers and chairs presented programs.
  • ·         Area chapters presented programs and held joint events.
  • ·         More members subscribed to the American Spirit magazine and participated in state events.

You can imagine our delight in attending the 100th anniversary celebration of the chapter this fall!  The lovely tea was held in the same home where the chapter was organized in 1913 with many new, enthusiastic faces as well as a number of descendants of Robert Raines. Ms. Templeman’s DAR certificate was sold with the home and is prominently displayed in the foyer even though the current homeowners have no connection to DAR.

As current regent, Dannielle Randall stated, “National's involvement was really what set off the request for help.  This shows what a great organization DAR is because National pays attention to small chapters, such as Robert Raines.”

As a result, the chapter has grown from 17 members in 2006 to 27 members in 2013. Because the chapter was willing to ask for help, they are stronger than ever.  If your chapter could benefit from revitalization, please take advantage of the many tools which are available to build a stronger chapter, through the Chapter Development and Revitalization Commission and the DAR Leadership Training committee.

I often hear these types of stories about Texas chapters because it is my home state but I would love to hear more from other states! Please share with us your interesting stories of how your chapter has worked to revitalize and strengthen itself so I can share them in the future. I am always eager to hear more about the work of our members and I encourage you to help me learn more about what you are doing to make DAR a thriving organization.

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