April 2023 From the President’s Keyboard: How to Ensure Your Chapter’s Legacy

April flowers bring…a really high pollen count here in Georgia. I’m trying to write this while squinting through red and swollen eyes. My health tip of the month is to never wear contact lenses when the pollen count is in the 1400s. My ASPE tip of the month is to take a close look at those Chapter Annual Reports. It is April, but the June deadline to complete them is sneaking up really fast.

To some Chapter Officers, the Annual Reports conjure up apprehension, dread, and/or heartburn. Yeah, it is a requirement each and every June, and then you throw in the July 15 deadline for the annual Treasurer Report. Does the Society really need this info? What do we do with it? The simple answer is, yes, we do; this information helps the Board of Directors and Society Staff get an annual read on the status of each Chapter. That’s the only reason the Annual Reports are required. We are not looking to do anything but monitor the health of our Chapters. In recent years, the process has been simplified—no more paperwork! It’s all online and can be completed fairly quickly. Thus, the process should only measure in the “low” range on the pain scale.

I’d like to put a spin on the pain of completing Chapter Annual Reports. It is born out of my 20 years serving as a Chapter Officer. How do you turn it around so it’s less of an obligation? What worked for me was to make it a challenge. Get the reports done and submit them before the deadlines.

Chapter Award of Merit

As a matter of fact, the Society provides an incentive built in to our Annual Report system. It’s called the Award of Merit.

When I was a Chapter Officer, we would work hard each year to earn the Award of Merit. It was an honor and a legacy for our Chapter. In my 10 years on the Society Board of Directors, I’ve reviewed Annual Reports for every Chapter each year. In that time, it seems Chapters have become less interested in earning the Award of Merit. That’s a head-scratcher for me. I’ve tried to think of reasons, but I can’t come up with any. Do Chapters no longer want to be honored with the Award of Merit?

Merriam-Webster defines merit as:

  • A praiseworthy quality, virtue
  • Character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem

The U.S. Armed Forces awards the Meritorious Service Medal to members who distinguish themselves by outstanding meritorious achievement or service to the United States. Why wouldn’t every ASPE Chapter want to strive for the Award of Merit? Doesn’t your Chapter want to be honored? Does your Chapter have a legacy to maintain? If not, then let your Chapter’s legacy begin with your term. I want to issue a challenge to every Chapter: go after the Award of Merit. Sit down with your Board Officers and measure your Chapter’s progress to achieve it. Where do you stand currently, and how much further do you have to go?

The requirements to earn the Award of Merit are outlined in ASPE’s Policy & Operations Manual, starting on page 1.35. I won’t get into the details to earn the award, but in general, a Chapter must complete four prerequisites and also earn points in four categories (Chapter Activity, Education, Financial Aid, and Plumbing Engineering Awareness). Depending on the Chapter’s size, the total points required to achieve the award vary. As you input your Chapter’s information in the online Annual Report, the system will calculate your points toward the Award of Merit. It is only April, but make that progress check for your Chapter and see where you stand.

I have thrown down the gauntlet. It would be unprecedented for all of our Chapters to get the Award of Merit, but it all starts with your Chapter. You can preserve, or begin, your Chapter’s legacy this year. I’ll leave you with that.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this.

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