The Michigan State Conference

Written by: Denise Doring VanBuren, President General
September 25, 2019

It is the highest honor to visit with Daughters across the country, absorbing their energy and sharing with them the goals of our new administration. September 19-21 found me doing just that while enjoying the 119th State Conference of the Michigan Daughters in beautiful Lansing. And I do mean enjoying! These Great Lakes Daughters are both welcoming and inspiring.  I wish that space allowed me to share every highlight of my time with them, but I am regrettably limited here to just a handful.

I am so grateful to State Regent Gina LaCroix for her superb hospitality and her capable leadership. She has chosen to support the construction of Michigan’s two Fisher Houses as her State Regent’s Project. I am ashamed to say that I knew little about these wonderful “homes away from home,” and I felt fortunate to learn more about them from Kate Melcher, Executive Director of Fisher House Michigan, the Saturday luncheon speaker.  The Fisher House Foundation builds homes where the families of active duty military and veterans may stay free of charge, while a loved one is in a nearby military or VA medical center. There are 84 operating Fisher Houses that have saved military and veterans’ families more than $450 million in lodging and transportation costs since their inception in the early 1990s. What a wonderful purpose.

Another highlight was receiving a private tour of Michigan’s magnificent Capitol building, which opened in 1879. Over the course of decades, the building was altered drastically and fell into disrepair.  In 1987, after years of neglect, the Capitol was restored to its original beauty and was named a National Historic Landmark by 1992. Capitol Historian Valerie Marvin provided the guests of the conference with an insider’s view that included a special emphasis on the women who had contributed to the building’s operation and restoration (several of whom were DAR). What a treat to see the Governor’s desk, which sports a plaque noting that it was restored by the Michigan Society of the DAR as part of the efforts that returned the building to grandeur.

I am so proud of the Michigan Daughters and their dedication to our Society and its mission. I am so grateful to them for their many kindnesses, and I am deeply moved by their exceptionally generous support of our President General’s Project. It was also my honor to participate in the moving Memorial Service conducted by State Chaplain Jeanne McMillan. I was especially pleased that so many Daughters wore RED on Friday in order to Remember Everyone Deployed, an administration effort of our DAR Project Patriot Committee.

Though it was my first visit to Michigan, I felt as though I had come home. That’s in large part because for seven years, I have had the privilege of being an Associate Member of Stoney Creek Chapter, which hosted a too-fabulous-to-adequately-describe luncheon before the start of the conference. These ladies have “adopted” me due to my friendship with their past Regent and current Michigan State Vice Regent Kelly VanWormer, whom I met after she attended a New York Luncheon at Congress many years ago. I suspect that my relationship with Kelly may be similar those that you have made with vibrant, smart and patriotic women across the nation whom you met through your involvement in DAR. These fun friendships form a strong and reinforcing bond that binds us together in service -- sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but always grateful that our lives are infinitely richer due to active membership in DAR.

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