Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Introducing new CT State Grange President Noel Miller ...

At the 130th Annual Session of the Connecticut State Grange, a new State Master/President was elected and installed.  My name is Noel Miller, your next State Master (President) of the Connecticut State Grange.  I am a 40 year member of Coventry Grange #75, Master of East Central Pomona #3 for the past 18 years, and past State Ag. Director, East Central Pomona Deputy, and Assistant Steward and Steward.
My wife is Marcia, we have been married for 14 years, she had two children from previous marriage, our oldest lives in Seattle, WA and works for Google, and your youngest just moved to Boston and works at Lessall College in Newton, MA.
My family members are all Grangers, I am the youngest of six (the baby).  I was in 4H with a sheep project.  This taught me hard work and record keeping skills.  I was in the FFA, at Storrs Regional, as President I gained public speaking and parliamentary skills.  I have belonged to my local volunteer fire department for 34 years, serving as Chief two different times.  I graduated from UConn’s Radcliffe Hicks School of Ag. And worked on a commercial dairy farm before working at the Dairy Farm at UConn’s Storrs campus.  In 2013 I retired from there after 31.7 years of milking cows there.  I am old school in values and lifestyle.  I go to Sunday family dinners.  My father taught us kids life skills, community service, church, family and hard work (he taught me ditch digging so I had a backup skill).
I have asked Don Lanoue of Cheshire Grange #23 to be my General Deputy.  As State Session we have filled man committee slots but many are empty.  Please be patient while we pull together the State Grange Pink Sash team together.
I was asked how I slept after the elections, I told them that I had a dream like “A Christmas Carol” but with Grangers past, present and future.  I hear people talk about Grange ritual as old and outdated, in some ways you’re right but the lessons that they teach us is life changing.  It gives us instruction on how to improve ourselves, its simplicity has withstood time.
In last month’s Granger, Past President Jody Cameron wrote of Respect and team players.  I agree the feuding has to stop, we have all taken the Obligation in the Grange to protect a Brother and Sister from harm, this includes bullying in the Grange.  Individuals have to work out their differences, because you don’t want me to decide!  A resolution from Oxford Grange was about harmony within the Grange, the call is to “PLAY NICE.”
I wish to thank the Camerons for their help, support and assistance with the transfer of leadership of the State Grange.  I also wish to thank the Nicholson’s of Montana, our National Representatives, for their offers of friendship and guidance through the National Grange Convention in Ohio.  Thank you all.
I wish to congratulate every Grange that received awards at State Session, through your hard work and dedication to your projects, everyone is a winner, your members, the community and the Grange.  Good luck in the upcoming year.
I wish to thank Edith Schoell and Philip Bergquist, for their service as Secretary and Treasurer, and congratulate them on receiving their titles of Emeritus to their respective offices.
As Thanksgiving approaches we must take time to spend with family and friends to enjoy all that we are thankful for in this past year, but we should also look to help neighbors and strangers who have struggled to make ends meet.  I know through Grangers generous donations that we will brighten others Thanksgiving Day with food donations and fuel assistance.  This is what makes me proud to b e a Granger in Connecticut, your heartfelt giving to others.
In closing, I and my family wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving, and a great new Grange year.  God Bless all!

-- Noel

Sunday, December 2, 2012

DUES INCREASE!?


Who wants to pay higher dues?

 

I don’t, but I can promise this, if we, as individual Community Granges do not initiate immediate sustainable growth we will be seeing frequent dues increases from both the National and State Grange.  If we do not initiate immediate sustainable growth in each Community Grange and organize new Community Granges, our existing membership base will bear the entire financial burden of the National and State Grange in the future. 

 

Sister Jodi Ann and I just returned from attending the National Grange Session in Boise, ID and there were two particular resolutions that were defeated by the Delegate body I want to address with you.  The first was a $4.00 per member dues increase to the National Grange; the other would have instituted an annual Charter Licensing fee.  These were debated at great length, with State Masters speaking to both the pro and the con, but in the end it is clear that if we do not initiate sustainable growth a dues increase or fees of some kind will be necessary for us to maintain the National Grange.  By the delegate body voting these items down it has only enabled each state to go home and institute ways of increasing revenues to National Grange.  We can increase dues, but what does this really accomplish?  A dues increase puts additional financial burden on our existing membership.  I do admit we have the lowest dues of any organization I am involved in and many of you say the same.  We have been short-selling ourselves for many years and now it is up to us to correct this situation.  I can assure you if and when a new resolution is submitted to national Grange for a dues increase we will not be seeing $4.00 per member, it will most likely need to be nearer to $10.00.    I am neither trying to make our National Grange out to be a villain nor am I advocating for a dues increase or any fees of any kind. Our National Grange belongs to us; therefore it is our responsibility to ensure its healthy well-being.  The National Grange will not and cannot survive without our financial support and personal involvement.

 

So, what can we do about this?  Well there are some options. 

Option:  We can support a dues increase putting the burden on our existing membership.  Not the answer!

Option:  We can write a resolution that the National Grange mortgages our National Headquarters, but then WE, the membership, will have to repay that.  Not the answer!

Option:  We can do nothing; we all know if you always do what you have always done you will always get the same results.  For some I am sure this is the answer, sorry, not the answer!.

 

What we can do, need to do, WILL do, is GROW our MEMBERSHIP!  At state session I asked every Grange to make a pledge for membership growth.  Some Granges made a commitment, some have not.  I am upping my challenge; I am challenging every Grange in Connecticut to increase their membership by 25% in the 2013 Grange year.  Growth in these numbers is no longer an option, it is essential for our survival.  I promise to every Grange that initiates measures to grow they will receive the FULL support of the Connecticut State Grange.  Those Grange that choose to stay as you are, I wish you well, but understand this, the energy of this State Grange will ONLY be expended on what is important, and what is in the best interest of the Grange and Grangers.  We will not be investing time, energy or financial resources in any activity that does not foster a positive environment.  We cannot tolerate petty bickering in our Granges. We cannot tolerate a member that “controls” our Granges. We can no longer tolerate Granges not bringing in new members; self destruction is NO LONGER AN OPTION!  By increasing our membership annually we will delay any need to implement dues increases for the foreseeable future.  The increases we will then see will be necessary to support and sustain a larger membership.  Increases that will be needed to improve and implement new programming; increases for ALL of the right reasons.

 

I have written this blog this month to give you the facts on this issue, not to scare you or anger you.  I know the Grangers in our State want what is best for the Grange and will do whatever it takes to succeed.  We have the opportunity to be proactive and I look forward to facing this challenge with you. 

 

 

 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Giving Back


I had the great opportunity and pleasure to volunteer at the Northeast Community Kitchen in Danielson as part of Web Industries Hartford’s (the company that I work for) service to our community campaign.

When I arrived I was greeted by a woman named Connie.  Connie is a middle aged woman who seemed a little rough around the edges and is the site coordinator for the Danielson Community Kitchen.  Connie immediately set to work dicing ham.  When I asked what the menu for the day was, she replied, it was going to be macaroni salad and Sloppy Joes, but her plans were changed when the hamburger she was promised never came through so she quickly changed the menu to her version of and Italian Wedding soup, macaroni salad with ham and baked beans.  You see, the Community Kitchens in Northeast CT rely heavily on donations from the CT Food Bank and local Supermarkets, and when something doesn’t come through like hamburger, Connie has to make do with what she has in her freezer and storage closet.  I was astounded by what she did with so little.  Connie took 4 pounds of frozen meatballs have two volunteers cut them into smaller pieces as the meat in her soup.  The 8 pounds of diced ham was prepared to be part of the macaroni salad.  As the recipients of the lunch arrived, some by 10:00, lunch isn’t served till 12:00; they were all greeted by Connie and offered a beverage and snack. 

There were 66 people served lunch, for many of them this meal was most likely there only meal for the day.  There were homeless families; people from the two local shelters and some just down on their luck and Connie knew them all, if not when they arrived, definitely by the time they left.   When one person asked if there was enough for them to have seconds, Connie replied, “No one goes hungry when Connie’s cooking, you know that.”   There wasn’t a soul she didn’t treat with respect and dignity, regardless of their circumstance. Prior to the meal being finished she told all of the volunteers “you make sure no now leaves here without a loaf of bread and a plate to take home if they want it.”  When everyone left, be it someone who came for lunch or a volunteer, we all left with an offer of more food, a loaf of bread and a kind word from Connie. 

This was one of the most moving experiences in my life.  I know all areas are affected by the level of need I saw, but I was blind.  Blind because I never want to see the true need.  Not seeing the true need meant our community was exempt from it, it didn’t happen.  There were no homeless, no drug addicts.  How could there be, I never see them.  What a wonderfully sheltered life I lead.  When I saw a group of VERY dedicated volunteers giving of themselves unselfishly; judging no one, it made me somewhat embraced.  How dare I turn a blind eye?  I do not live a life of luxury; I don’t have expensive clothes, what makes me better than anyone else?  These questions keep going through my mind over and over again. 

The other question that keeps my mind reeling is, are we as an organization doing enough?  Are we making sure our community service projects are truly needed by the community?  Are we focused on our community service efforts?  CAN WE DO MORE?  We can, and we must.

To insure my family does not live with the blindness I unknowingly have, I have asked each of them to volunteer this summer at the Community Kitchen here in town; and I challenge every Grange member to dig deep within side themselves and truly make a difference in your community, not for the Grange, but for you. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

It is Never to Late to be a Good Neighbor

Almost all of society is stretched to the limit today.  We are off to work, off to take the kids to school, then its sports, shopping, the list goes on and on.  Too often we forget about what is truly important, our giving back to our community.  Your local Grange is a perfect place to participate in community service.  One of the fundamental foundations of the Grange is service to the community.  Last year Grange members in Connecticut gave almost 100,000 hours their time and talent to better the communities in which they serve.

Many Granges support their local school, food bank and youth sports teams.  What a better way to give back to the community than helping those who are served by these services.  How about just saying hi to your neighbor.  Sometimes the smallest act of kindness goes a real long way.  Not only will it put a smile on their face, it will on yours too.

So, try it giving back, it is never to late to be a good neighbor.