I learned about the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) in 2008. I was a participant on a forum and many of the other members were talking about the upcoming conference. So, I looked into the organization. It seemed interesting – all about lesbian literature; about bringing readers and authors together; about doing more than just reading the books.
I signed up and became a member of the organization.
The following year, I attended my first conference in Orlando. Unfortunately, I was sick for most of it and stayed in my hotel room. But, what I got to experience was amazing. I have returned every year since.
In 2011, we had a bad experience with the hotel. The conference itself was still awesome. But the hotel was horrible. Following the conference, there was a big “to do” about it among the membership. For some reason, blame was put on the Board of Directors – even though it was completely out of their control. And even though the Board asked for patience as they worked with the hotel in the following weeks, the membership persisted in complaining and blaming.
Not everyone. There were quite a few that supported the Board and implored everyone else to just have patience and let the Board get things worked out.
I sat back and watched everything unfold. I began thinking about the Board and what they were dealing with during this difficult time. The organization was just beginning to recover from a rough patch. The Board consisted of a small group of women who were doing their best to do what was right by the membership and keep the organization afloat. And here we were bitching and moaning…but not really doing much else. I mean, it’s all well and good to point out the things that are “wrong” and tell the Board what they should be doing…but where were the people who were stepping up to suggest solutions, rather than just adding to the Board’s problems? Why weren’t we – as members – stepping up and volunteering to help with the organization?
I decided to walk the walk. I reached out to a member of the Board and said, “Okay. Here I am. What can I do?” At that point, I became the person who handled social media. I was involved and doing something. I was able to lift a burden off a member of the Board so that they could concentrate on other things. I’ve been doing it for over 4 years now.
In January 2013, I was invited to join the Board of Directors. At the time, I was to be the Director of Technology. Eventually it became Director of Technology and Communication. A few more name changes followed and we finally settled on Director of Outreach, which is my current title. I’m also a member of the Executive Committee.
I’ve learned a lot in my nearly 3 years on the Board. I’ve been able to watch the organization grow (we’ve nearly doubled our membership in those 3 years) and have an impact on how the organization is run. What I really enjoy is working on the Annual Conference. Knowing that I had something to do with putting together a great, well-attended event just makes me feel good. Like I’ve made a difference for the hundreds of people who attend each year.
I’ve made a LOT of friends because of my membership and participation in the GCLS. Good friends. These people are my family of choice. Many are as dear to me as my family of birth. Had I not made that move to volunteer to help, I probably would not have been asked to be on the Board. And I certainly wouldn’t be as blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life, for I know I would not have had as much interaction with them.
I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve been able to provide some financial support to the organization via sponsorships. What I’m able to do varies from year to year, as it does for so many. But I do what I can. I realize that not everyone is able to be a sponsor or give large donations. So, while I can, I give what support I’m able. But, most important, is the time spent helping to make the GCLS better and better. THAT doesn’t cost anything
Participating. Making a difference. Giving back. Paying it forward. Such incredible rewards just for being a part of an organization that I love.
As the GCLS continues to grow, members will see some changes on the horizon. But those changes will only be successful if others are willing to step up and give whatever and however they can to the organization. Whether it’s a monetary donation or a time commitment, we need every member on board:
- If there’s an election…vote
- If there’s a survey…fill it out
- If there’s a fundraiser…give if you can and if you can’t, share the information so people who can donate will donate
We’ll be putting out calls in the near future for volunteer teams – technology, marketing, grants, publicity, conference, etc. If you’ve got the skill and you’ve got the drive and you’ve got some time…join us. Volunteer. Even if it’s just to make a couple of phone calls or pay visits to local contacts. Every few minutes that people give can certainly help.
If you’re not a member of the GCLS but would like to be, join. It’s only $25 a year. If you don’t want to join, then consider what I’ve written for any group or organization that you find important. Whether it’s your church, a professional organization, a book club, a booster club, the PTA…it doesn’t matter. Just give of your time and your talent. It makes a big difference – to the organization and to you.
Trust me on this one. You’ll feel better for it.