Visiting the Grand Canyon State

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
June 12, 2015

On Thursday, May 7, 2015, I flew from Calgary to Phoenix for the 113th Arizona State Conference, State Regent Gillian Morse.  I was warmly greeted at the airport by Vice President General Danna Koelling and National Chair of Pages Laura Boyd.  The theme of the Conference was “Celebrate America! Celebrate Arizona!” With 41 chapters in Arizona, the conference was well attended with more than 280 members and guests.

The Arizona Society sustained a net gain in membership last year and now has almost 2,600 members.  Gillian’s motto is “live life without regrets like the great dragonfly.”  The theme she chose is “Celebrate Arizona by Living in the Moment!”  Her emblem is the dragonfly, which has a very short life span, reminding us to live in the moment with no regrets.

Gillian’s State Regent’s Project is to promote education through Arizona DAR for graduating high school females.  Chapters are grouped into four geographic areas and each chapter is invited to submit its top three nominees for a $1,000 scholarship to attend an Arizona school of higher learning.  From those nominees, one winner is selected in each geographic area.  Chapters were encouraged to donate themed gift baskets to benefit the State Regent’s Project.  The baskets were fabulous and offered in a silent auction.  I have no idea how many bids I placed, but I was greatly relieved not to have won all of them!

The first event I attended was the New Member Reception with Peggy Hurd, Past Treasurer General and State Chair Chapter Development and Revitalization Committee. The New Members’ Training Course was adapted from the one begun by the District of Columbia and relies almost totally on the archived webinars.

The webinars are grouped by required and elective courses. Required webinars are:  DAR 101, Generational Awareness, Our DAR Home, Welcome to DAR – the First 30 Days, Celebrating America!, DAR Insignia and Pins, Introduction to 2012 Continental Congress (for an overview of our national convention), and Genealogy Educational Program.  The elective webinars are: Social Media Tips, Units Overseas, Supporting Documentation Project, What does a Kangaroo have to do with Junior Membership?, Girls in White Dresses and DAR Magazine.

A letter is sent from the State Regent and the CDRC Chair to welcome each new member to the Arizona State Society. The letter discusses the training course and the hope that they will choose to participate so they may more fully enjoy their membership in the DAR. Once they complete the webinars, they return a checklist to the CDRC Chair and an invitation is sent for the New Members’ Reception at State Conference.  At the reception, each new “graduate” received a certificate.

The new members are encouraged to attend one of the CDRC Regional Workshops presented throughout the year. As Peggy related “The women who complete the course tell me that they feel more connected to the Society and have a greater appreciation of our history and years of service to the country. They also share that they have a better understanding of what goes on in a chapter meeting. . . and are more willing to ‘get in there’ and participate! Indeed, many are now chapter officers and chairs of committees! The course has been a Win-Win for Arizona Daughters.”

The Arizona Singers performed at the Awards Banquet Thursday evening. They entertained us with a skit on the “Old Bags of DAR” featuring the tote bags, pins and emblems of decades of DAR administrations.  Among the awards presented were the Americanism Award, Outstanding DAR Genealogy Preservation Volunteer, Membership Committee Awards, Outstanding American History Teacher, Outstanding Special Education Teacher, and the Outstanding Junior, Stephanie Menei, who was Paging with her three week old daughter.  There is nothing like starting her off early!

The Business Session on Friday morning included reports of State Officers, State Chairs of National Committees and Chapter reports. Among the highlights:

  • One chapter asked for help and successfully reduced the number of applications returned for more informatoin
  • One chapter had a Bunko party fundraiser (that would work with DAR-opoly!)
  • One chapter repurposed an old mailbox into a receptacle for flags needing to be properly retired
  • One chapter has seven members serving as Memorial Ladies, volunteers who are present at the funeral of each veteran in our National Cemeteries http://www.nationalmemorialladies.org/
  • One chapter reported great success in membership gains by being friendly to newcomers and assisting with application papers.

Attending the Conference were representatives from the United States of American Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration who were quite busy answering questions about the many ways in which chapters can honor the veterans and their families. http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/

The luncheon featured the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of Vietnam.  Patricia Little-Upah, who served 30 years in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps retiring at the rank of Colonel, shared her memories of her time in Vietnam, arriving just after the Tet Offensive in 1968.  She served at the 93rd and 95th Evacuation Hospitals and shared with us that 7,484 women served in Vietnam and that 83.5% were nurses. Today women comprise 20% of our military force.  Colonel Little-Upah was presented the DAR Distinguished Citizen Medal. Staff Sergeant James Hartman from the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration presented her with the Vietnam Veteran lapel pin.  All of the Vietnam Veterans in the audience were recognized and applauded.

As always, I enjoyed welcoming our donors to the President General’s Tea in which I had the opportunity to thank them for their support and to answer questions.  Diane Murry, State Chair of the President General’s Project, reported sales of over $1,700 at this conference.

The Gala Banquet on Friday evening began with introductions of representatives of other Patriotic and Hereditary Organizations. Oswaldo Zapata, Trumpeter, played the National Hymn, written during the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I enjoyed learning the historic significance of the familiar hymn. 

“God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before they throne arise.”

After nine lovely Debutantes were presented and welcomed into membership in DAR, it was a privilege to speak to the assembly and update everyone on the goals and objectives of the of the President General’s Project.  Gillian presented me with a lovely charm for my bracelet as well as a generous check for the President General’s Project.

The Cameo Club convened Saturday morning with breakfast in which we were invited to share stories of our mothers.  I chose to share the story of my DAR mother, Nancy Tiner, and her years of support and encouragement.  After she died unexpectedly a few years ago, I realized it was now my time to encourage other young women.

Marilou Fellman, State Chaplain, conducted a lovely Memorial Service in which Past Vice President General Jo Andress played a medley on the clarinet accompanied by Kathleen Poquette, past National Chair of Congress Music.

After the Saturday Business Session, the Education Awards luncheon was held.  I always enjoy seeing the young students receive their awards, but had to leave early to return to Texas in order to spend Mother’s Day with my family.

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