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New Member Project Conception to Delivery

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The beginning of the Altrusa year brought about a challenge from President Gillian Allen to the new members; create a project that had an immediate impact in the local community. The last new member project that had occurred was the one created by Gillian Allen where she submitted for a grant for West Independent School District to resupply the library after the West Fertilizer Company exploded in 2013 causing massive damage to the city. Talk about big shoes to fill. Discussions occurred and the new members were encouraged to listen to the needs of the community, after all the new member project was unique where we could make an immediate impact if needed. Ideas sprang up; every aspect was considered while ensuring no rules were broken based on what Altrusa stood for. After weeks of deliberation it was decided that the new members would adopt the W.H. Gaston Middle School teachers. Individuals who are willing to become teachers are a rare treasure, especially ones that willingly seek out troubled schools to teach in. Troubled students may not be able to afford school supplies or other necessary items to be able to make it through the school year. They are more likely to get frustrated and quit school when they can. The teachers are the ones that are able to make the learning experience something that is sought and many teachers spend thousands of dollars a year to accommodate the needs of their students. Nichole Parr presented the concept of the new member project to the board, which had a unanimous vote in approval. The concept was then presented to the members at the meeting for their approval. The initial approved budget was $1,000. The initial plan was to spend $500 at the beginning of the year and $500 midyear to replenish supplies. Of course, all great plans are subject to change. We decided to donate items that are most needed for the teachers; fortunately we had some insight since one of the new members was also a teacher at the school. Jan Steinbrecher took on the daunting task of communicating with the school. Yolanda put together the lists and purchased a majority of the items after the teachers returned the forms. At this point we realized that $500 was just not going to supply 76 teachers with their needs. The new members went back to the Board and requested that the project be considered a Special Project, which would allow any monetary donations to be able to be used during this year. The board unanimously approved and only one member abstained during voting. Blue and yellow reusable shopping bags were donated to carry the items. To add individualized flair the members got together during a Service Saturday to stencil the bags. Now that we had the items and the way to hold them there was only the packing and delivery of the items to accomplish. The bags were stencilled and the items were either purchased or donated. A small group of the new members got together to stuff the 76 bags that were needed. Fortunately we had Tetris Master Jan Steinbrecher who was able to insert a ream of paper, boxes of pens, pencils, binder clips, and a large roll of garbage bags. This was no easy feat and we were able to stuff the bags efficiently thanks to her. Delivery day was October 4th. Nichole Parr, Yolanda Joosten, Carolyn Filak, and Rick Joosten convened at W.H. Gaston Middle School around 8:00am to deliver the bags. The teachers that submitted a list as requested received their items first. Remaining teachers or those unable to get away from morning duties had their bags delivered by the Teachers Assistants. In the end the teachers were extremely appreciative for the gift and recognition that we provided to them. At least one teacher reached out to Lori Smith to get more information about another Altrusa branch that was closer to her home. From this we were able to establish a beginning bond with this school, which we hope to establish an ASTRA club in the future.