A Message from the AIA Board of Directors
What is the Anderson Island Association and what has it been?
AIA was founded in 1981 as the voice of Anderson Island residents on local issues including law enforcement, roads, and ferry service (Sounds familiar!) as well as a community forum for social activities. At one point there were well attended monthly meetings to address island wide issues, each with an educational or entertaining program. The Island Sounder newsletter became the written voice sharing information to AI’ers, on and off the island. The Welcome Book was provided to newcomers to draw them into the community. AIA sponsored community-building activities like road cleanups and the neighbor to neighbor program. The AIA Board of Directors consisted of 11 members, all of whom were kept busy with all the activity.
Over the years, the island has changed. Its population has grown and changed and now people come and go without most of us knowing. Other organizations have come into existence and now perform some of the things AIA originally did. For example, AICAB is county-recognized to formally address the original but still important issues, AIHS provides informative programs through the winter and popular activities through the summer, and the Fire Department became the repository for loanable medical equipment.
AIA has also recognized the increasing role of electronic communication. First, AIA created a blog to convey information between Sounder issues. This has not survived in any meaningful way. Then some island residents created the “Anderson Islanders” and “Anderson Island Buy Sell Swap Garage Events” Facebook pages. These have taken on a life of their own. AIA recognizes Facebook is widely used, but also knows there are many islanders who don’t do Facebook, don’t believe everything that appears there, or want to continue receiving a concise monthly reporting of events and information.
Therefore, AIA has chosen not to make the Sounder an electronic publication for several reasons, including that a significant portion of the readership prefers a hard copy publication. Going ‘optional’ is not cost effective.
AIA gradually became the neutral organization, focused on information sharing and community activities. Community activities include the still popular Starlighting, spring concert, Veterans Day program, and ice cream social. Communication vehicles include the Island Sounder which reports the activities of all island organizations and the Welcome Book, which explains the various island organizations and services. Concurrently, the 11 seat board was less often and then never full, so fewer people were doing the work.
What does AIA do now?
Last winter, in recognition of AIA’s mission changes and the strength of the other island organizations, the Board proposed and AIA members approved bylaw changes. These were designed to create a leaner, meaner AIA. The board will shrink from 11 to 5 members, the annual meeting is moved to August to encourage greater participation, and monthly membership meetings have been eliminated in favor of periodic activities.
With the bylaw changes and with island support and participation, AIA will be able to focus on fewer but most-valued activities. The board believes these include the Island Sounder, the Ice Cream Social, the holiday Star Lighting, and the Spring Concert.
Recently AIA conducted a survey, both on-line and through the Sounder, to determine what the islanders think about AIA and the value it provides, and to identify those activities most valued. More on those results shortly.
First, what AIA is NOT.
The recent survey indicated some confusion about the various island organizations. Before proceeding, let’s clarify a few things. There are over 28 island organizations, each with its own activities, focus, and membership. AIA is only one.
AIA is not AICC. AIA does not own or maintain the community clubhouse, sanction activities there, rent out the building, or conduct the garage sales that support the building maintenance. Those activities belong to the Anderson Island Community Club, AICC. AICC also coordinates a scholarship program to which AIA and other organizations contribute money.
AIA is not AICAB. The county chose to charter a separate organization for formal recognition as the voice of the island on issues such as roads, ferries and long term planning. AICAB, the Anderson Island Citizens Advisory Board, conducts quarterly meetings to address those issues.
The survey was distributed via the Anderson Islanders Facebook page in mid-May and printed in the June edition of the Island Sounder. The survey could be completed anonymously and could be returned electronically, by mail or placed in the AIA box at the Island General Store. AIA received 55 responses.
58% of the responses were from AIA members, representing approximately 13% of the membership. The remaining 42% were either non-members or didn’t know.
Most responses felt AIA activities were valuable or invaluable, some more than others:
- Island Sounder 71%
- Spring Concert 59%
- Ice cream social 62%
- Starlighting & Santa arrival 56%
- Man & Woman of the Year award 36%
- Neighbor to neighbor program 54%
- Welcome Book 46%
- Contributing to scholarship fund 67%
Overall, 74% of the responses thought AIA provides a valuable service to the community and 84% thought islanders should support AIA. However, 65% had never volunteered with any AIA activity or leadership capacity.
The AIA Board is preparing for the August general membership annual meeting (August 2, 2014) and for the remaining activities of 2014. For the organization to function, the following positions must be filled by that time:
- A nominating committee (at least 3 people) must identify a slate of candidates for the election of board members. All 5 seats are up for election this time. Not all of the present officers are willing to serve again. The nominating committee will need to identify and confirm willingness to serve by July 15 so the slate can be published in the August edition of the Sounder.
- Five individuals must be willing to stand for election to serve on the Board. Detailed job descriptions are contained in the bylaws which were published in the December and January issues of the Island Sounder. In brief:
- President: preside at board meetings and the annual meeting and administer the neighbor to neighbor program
- Vice president: events coordinator, maintaining a resource kit for the various event committee volunteers
- Secretary: minutes of meetings, historical records of the association and an inventory of association property
- Treasurer: keep accounts and membership/subscriber lists
- Communication officer: coordinate the Island Sounder and any other publications (e.g., welcome book).
- One person must chair the ice cream social on August 2, 2014. This person will identify and coordinate volunteers to serve the ice cream, purchase and be reimbursed for the ice cream and “fixings”, and set up and clean up the community clubhouse. Records from past years are available as guidance.
- One person to chair the Starlighting, scheduled for December 6, 2014. Records from past years are available as guidance and the vice president will assist.
- One or more persons to coordinate preparation and distribution of the Welcome book. The communications officer will assist this group. The group needs to establish and implement mechanisms to identify new islanders and distribute the Welcome book to them.
- One or more persons to promote membership. While records of membership are maintained by the treasurer, someone must be the one to ask people to join – and participate. This will address those survey responses that indicated no knowledge of or access to the organization and the Sounder. Board members will assist.
- One or more persons to assist with publication of the Sounder. Help is needed with contacting, tracking and billing advertisers and with copying, packaging and mailing each issue. Preparation of each issue occurs between the 16th and 19th of each month. The advertising work is ongoing, with a major effort in January. The communications officer will assist.
The bottom line: peep or get off the perch.
The AIA Board has determined that, if the above positions and activities are not filled in a timely manner, it will consider disbanding the Anderson Island Association. Current bylaws do not provide a mechanism to merge with any other organization. If AIA disbands, there is no guarantee that any activities would be picked up by other organizations.
If you, the members, want AIA to continue providing the activities that you rated valuable, your help is needed to keep AIA in existence. Please contact any board member if you have questions or, better yet, to volunteer.
AIA Board Of Directors
- Belen Schneider 884-7976
- Jeff Hayes 884-1804
- John Mollan 884-1679
- Margaret Gilbert 884-1864