My tenure as President has been dedicated to growing the membership of IODE. My intent was to meet as many members as possible to seek their help in finding new members, and to support their celebrations and events.
Immediately after chairing my first National Executive Committee meeting in June of 2011, I set out on an amazing journey, first stop London, Ontario for the 100th Anniversary of London Municipal Chapter. Since that time, I have visited every province and the Yukon representing IODE at thirty-six venues, in addition to attending all meetings of the Officers, National Executive Committee and most committee meetings at Head Office.
The reason I could travel this much and attend to my presidential work of writing speeches, letters and so on from home in Ottawa was due to the true commitment and support from two National Officers, Karen Barker and Anne Mason. They each accepted the role of Office Administrator for one term of my Presidency, overseeing the work and staff at Head Office. Words will never be able to express my gratitude, Karen and Anne, for your assistance and hard work.
I have served IODE Canada along with a group of dedicated leaders, your National Officers, Provincial Presidents, Committee Chairmen and Convenors. I thank each of you for your true commitment to IODE, for the ideas and valuable discussions you brought to our meetings, and for your support and steadfast guidance. I think we would all agree that the past two years have gone by all too quickly. We accomplished a lot together, creating Momentum with many changes, but I leave this office knowing that I will miss you.
At the National Annual Meeting in Halifax, following my installation as National President, I received a lovely gift from our incoming President, Anne. The gift was a pewter Compass Rose, made in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. The description that accompanied the rose stated:
“Once known as The Rose of the Winds, the Compass Rose offers seafarers safe passage, whether their destination be the shores of home or faraway ports where new adventures await. The points of the compass represent the many directions of the wind and symbolize the delicate petals of a rose. The Compass Rose reminds us to set a direction, stay the course and celebrate our arrival at each journey’s end.”
At the time I first read the description of the Compass Rose, I never realized that my presidential compass would direct me to so many faraway ports across Canada with its outstanding beauty and diversity. The highlight of these travel adventures was not only the scenery, but more importantly, the roses I met, the lovely, fun-loving and remarkable women who serve their communities with true dedication in their volunteer commitments in the name of IODE.
Throughout my tenure, this Compass Rose was on my desk at Head Office. Each time I looked at it, it reminded me to stay the course of my firm belief that travelling to meet members and the public was the most important thing a National President could do. Having personally delivered the Making Connections presentation twelve times, I know that our members took to heart the message and that they are starting to take action to increase the membership of their chapters. I believe our membership numbers will increase, particularly with Next Steps initiatives and our engaging new website, but it will take time for it to stabilize before it will increase. We must be patient and persevere.
Anne, I would like to regift the Compass Rose to you, to have as a tangible guide to take you through your presidential journey. I wish you every happiness and success as our 42nd National President. May you and your Officers formulate a new direction for IODE, stay the course with strategic planning, be proud of your accomplishments along the way, and celebrate at the end of your journey.
Before I close, I must acknowledge my brother-in-law, Elliott, who is also known as Bear, and his wife Marianne. They graciously opened their home, which I nicknamed the BeariMari Bed and Breakfast, over the past two years, for every trip Bob and I made to Toronto. They provided us a comfortable bed, excellent appetizers and meals, along with a lovely glass of wine or two! In my expressed concern many times that I felt we were overdoing our stays with them, Marianne and Bear often stated that this was their support of the National President, their donation to IODE. I cannot thank them enough.
To my husband, Bob: without your persistent, determined encouragement for me to accept the role of National President, I would not be standing here tonight. What a journey we have had together! You have been my chauffeur, my bodyguard, and the wind beneath my wings. We drove almost 64,000 kilometers as I visited chapters and events across Canada. You drove every kilometer while I emailed, knitted, practiced speeches, wrote reports and day dreamed about the possibilities for IODE. Thank you for your never ending love and support. Now that Bob and I are at the end of our journey for IODE Canada, our next port of call is home in Ottawa, to enjoy more time with our children and grandchildren, and to travel together for leisure.
In closing, I wish members to know that I have numerous, wonderful memories which will help to sustain me as I settle into a much quieter and new routine outside of the Board of Directors. It will be a huge adjustment, as other Past National Presidents know, but I look forward to working more with my primary chapter, Walter Baker, and to delve into new personal projects.
Thank you for the faith you entrusted in me. It has been my privilege and utmost honour to serve as your National President.