Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ideas that work

idea icon Join the Club!!

Sometimes the culmination of small actions can produce great results. This is one such story…

The West Michigan Children’s Learning Center is located in the Valley of Grand Rapids. Speaking to the Valley’s Secretary, Gerry Millar, 33, the Center is a point of Valley pride. “The Valley is very proud of the Learning Center, “ says Ill. Bro. Millar. “Whenever we bring potential new members into the building we always show them the Center and tell them about the great work we’re doing.”

As proud as the members of the Valley are, it took the quiet ingenuity of its treasurer to establish a rallying point for the members. “Tom (Ill. Thomas W. Cardwell, 33) really came up with the idea of a Sponsor a Child Club,” relates Gerry. “In 2003, he came up with an idea so that everyone who wanted to support the Learning Center, regardless of the amount, could help.”

Cardwell, after finding out about the Learning Center program that sponsors a year of a child’s tutoring in return for a $5,000 donation, came up with an idea to make it more accessible. “I thought that there are a lot of members that would love to support the West Michigan Learning Center, but might not be able to give $5,000, so why not accumulate a number of smaller donations to add up to $5,000?” In his capacity as treasurer for the bodies of the Valley, Tom was in a unique position to do this, while still not attracting any personal attention. “This wasn’t about me, it was a program for the children in the Learning Center.”

Quickly the program gained momentum. Many donations, big and small, streamed in as the program’s reputation grew. As of today, this good idea, started so humbly, has provided 27 sponsorships. The director of the West Michigan Learning Center, Nina Gorak, is very appreciative. “Our local Masons have provided financial support for a great number of children - and the number is growing every day! This has been our most successful fundraising strategy to date. Thanks to all the West Michigan Masons who have contributed to this effort.”

As a result of this success, I was privileged to attend the Valley’s recent reunion in order to present the Valley with a special award. In front of the attendant members, their ladies and guests, I presented Ill. Bro. Caldwell a Bronze Teddy Bear award, acknowledging that the Valley of Grand Rapids Sponsor a Child Club had raised more than $100,000 for the Western Michigan Learning Center.

This idea takes advantage of our powerful Sponsor a Child program and lets more people participate. It is an idea worthy of consideration.

(This post is abbreviated from my recent article in Northern Light.)


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