A note from Diana:
Our club has officially reached the highest club status awarded by Toastmasters International! This status is reached by achieving a variety of club goals including collective and individual progress on the education curriculum (Pathways), membership retention/growth, officer performance, and healthy financial standing.
As a frame of reference for this award – we are 1 of only 2 clubs in our Division (25 clubs) to reach this status, and 1 of 21 clubs in our District (almost 200 clubs). We also completed the goals for this status with 4 months remaining in the year!
Our club started in 1947 and is the oldest club (72 years) in the area (we had a club birthday party last November) and the club has been through a lot. Nine months ago we lost our club President, Chris Rosbough, after an 8-month battle against a fast-moving and aggressive cancer. This loss hit hard, both on individuals and on the club as a whole. Our club lost a solid leader as Chris battled for his life in the months leading up to his passing. We struggled with member retention and growth, we lacked structure, and member engagement became stagnant which led to a significant dip in membership and quick depletion of our club reserves. We missed Chris.
In spring of 2019, 4 members who were consistently attending volunteered to coordinate happenings for the club – not necessarily as officers but just as members who wanted to help. Without clear officer assignments and with very low membership we were forced to consider options including trying to combine with nearby clubs or even close down the club altogether. Ultimately our little gaggle of volunteers decided to try to rescue the club. Since we were in a relatively expensive space, we negotiated a cut rate at a new location to save cost. As it turns out, the building we had just moved to was sold 6 months later so we had to move again at the end of 2019. In addition to cutting costs, we reached out to Toastmasters to request support from club coaches and we have been lucky enough to have Patrice and Patrick along for the ride to help guide us in our our year-long journey of rehabilitating the club.
In June of 2019, with only 8 members, we filled our officer roles amongst those 4 volunteers and forged ahead. With our new officer team in place, we worked hard to generate new interest, rejuvenate energy within the club with consistent and regular communication, and actively supported new members. We met regularly, we took action to market the club, we went to training, we led meetings, we took on roles, we gave speeches, we held open houses, we fundraised… and in 4 months we grew from 8 to 21 paid members, or 250%! We have been hovering around 20 active members since then. We’ve made a few changes to procedure and how we operate but our club still holds the reputation as an extremely friendly and welcoming club (if we do say so ourselves).
With the exception of one 22 year member (yay, Dave!) and one 5 year member (woohoo, Louise!), most of our members are in their first year or two of their Toastmasters journey. We have a fun, talented group of people with a wide array of interests and reasons for joining Toastmasters, but the one thing that brings us together is an interest in improving ourselves.
I am extremely proud of the work that the officers, coaches, and members have done to bring this club back from the brink of dissolution. Thank you to our coaches (Patrice and Patrick) for supporting us in leading meetings, giving planned and unplanned speeches, and providing helpful suggestions and feedback.
Special thank yous to:
- Louise for consistent support, leadership, and willingness to step in wherever it is needed
- Dave for unwaivering reliability and for providing insights on Toastmaster procedures
- Harry for tireless positivity and commitment to making our club and its members successful
Thank you to everyone who has contributed in small and huge ways to make our club what it is today. Congratulations on the President’s Distinguished status award!
Diana Perrault | Club President | North Seattle Chamber Club 540