How To: Ventura Club #24: Going Strong Since 1934
How they keep it fun, informative and fresh.
By Katherine Wertheim, CC, CL
Ventura Toastmasters Club #24 is one of the oldest clubs in Toastmasters. We like to joke that we’re so old; we just call ourselves by our number, not our name. “Club 24” will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a gala dinner in Ventura, California, on Saturday, November 14. What is this club’s secret to success? Here’s what members have to say about the club’s enjoyable meetings and friendly atmosphere:
Gordon Boggs, ATM, has been a Toastmaster since the early 1960s and a member of Club 24 since 1969. He says, “Toastmasters clubs have ups and downs, and there were times when we were down in membership, but we always kept meeting. You have to keep meeting regardless of the hard times. Sometimes just a few people can make a difference.”
Dick Ellis, M.D., DTM, joined Club 24 in 1982 and credits the influence of even just one motivated member to turn the club around. “We were really down in membership, and Bobby Williams came in and personally re-energized the club. Also, it’s a place where people of diametrically opposing viewpoints can get together and actually like each other.”
Paul Leveille, ATMB, CL, attended the 50th anniversary celebration in 1984 as a new member. He says, “We were actually down in membership at the 50th anniversary, so it was not a big celebration. Yet, some people at the 50th anniversary were founding members of our club!” Paul, Dick and Gordon are affectionately known by club members as “the three Musketeers” and they frequently travel together to the International Convention and other meetings.
Joyce Shaul, ATMB, has been a club member for 10 years. She says, “Having a core group of loyal, long-time members really helps. In addition, we have interesting meetings. I think following the Toastmasters standards helps meetings stay on track and that’s very helpful.” Also, at each meeting, experienced members greet and speak to newer members and guests to make them feel welcome and included.
Douglas Dewar, ACG, CL, past club president and past area governor, believes that making the meetings enjoyable is the key: “This is a very informal, fun club. The meetings are fun; that’s why I come.”
As for me, I think that adhering to the Distinguished Club guidelines has really helped us. We are not simply a social club; we are here to help people achieve their personal and professional objectives. By using the Distinguished Club Program (we were President’s Distinguished this year), we remember to push our members to achieve their goals. And, while it’s nice to have a banner full of ribbons, it’s what it takes to achieve those ribbons that makes for satisfied members who keep coming back.
It also helps to have a strong club Web site: By taking pictures of ribbon winners at each meeting and posting them online, we keep our Web site fresh. Every time we load a new picture, Google notices and pushes us to the top of the search list. Anyone who is looking for a Toastmasters club in Ventura will see us, and the nice Web site makes them more likely to come to our meeting. Thanks to our Web site alone, we easily add a new member a month. It was created by one member, Dave Strong, and we always seem to have one member willing to keep it going. That’s another way that one person can make a difference.
As one of the oldest Toastmasters clubs, we embrace new technology but we also know that the future of communications will always include one person reaching out to others through speaking.
If you’re near Ventura in November, please join Ventura Club #24 at our celebration or visit us at www.venturatoastmasters.com.
Katherine Wertheim, CC, CL, is past president of Ventura Toastmasters Club #24 and current District 33 Public Relations Officer. She can be reached at Katherine@werth-it.com.