In mid-June, I was fortunate to attend the Zone X Meeting in Perrysburg with our impressive President, Mary Bruce. What a way to gain a better appreciation of our Club and SLGC’s place in GCA! I have been a member of this club for 11 years, held many jobs and attended many Board Meetings but none of that prepared me for the GCA matrix that is a Zone Meeting.
Matrix is the perfect visual for what I experienced. From our arrival, the helpful and enjoyable informal connections I made or witnessed were non-stop. Even the bonds among the SLGC members who attended were strengthened. On the trolley, while touring gardens, between sessions, over meals, people breezily found fertile common ground based on garden club and other interests. There were innumerable conversations in which ladies shared what they have learned as they have contributed to their club be it as flower show head, treasurer or programs chair. Garden club interests were discussed robustly, and it was fascinating to learn how differently other clubs function and address common issues such as charitable project fund raising, how to find excellent speakers, how to attract young members in a changing environment….
Of course, there was also organized sharing as when the eleven club Presidents briefly discussed a charitable project (I saw many taking notes to bring back to their clubs). But connections were not just horizontal between club members with similar activities, positions or interests. I was surprised by the vertical cascade of knowledge.
We were fortunate enough to hear, over the course of the two days, the eleven heads of the Zone X Committees (everything from Judging and Visiting Gardens to Awards and Horticulture) provide perspective on their jobs and the resources available to help the corresponding Club level Committee Chairs. AND, we had nine GCA National Committee Chairs, Vice-Chairs or Coordinators on hand to provide an even larger picture of their areas of interest. PLUS, GCA President, Incoming First Vice President (from our zone, woo hoo!), two other Vice Presidents and two Zone Directors outside of our zone. Everyone was completely approachable. When meeting national officers or zone leadership over dinner or discussing a floral arrangement in passing, I had no idea of their status unless I glanced at their name tags.
The amount of support that is available to our Club and the amount we can contribute to help other clubs and GCA at the Zone and National levels was made clear in a way it hadn’t been for me prior to this meeting. Did you know GCA National has 400 volunteers, 200 of which change every 2 years who either lead or serve on a committee for a specific topic, such as the Second Century Campaign, Photography, Communications or Scholarship? I didn’t.
Perhaps the Awards Dinner brought home most clearly the amount of opportunity there is to participate in GCA. As the jobs held and accomplishments were read for each of the recipients, it was clear many talented, motivated women have made substantial commitments over many years to their club, their zone and the national organization. Our own Suzy Hartford was awarded the prestigious Zone Judging Award. Be sure to congratulate her when you see her. The warmth in the room when her name was announced was palpable.
Many thanks to Mary Bruce for inviting me to be her sidekick. It was a privilege and a pleasure to attend.