Can a new club achieve President Distinguished in one year? Yes, let Fallbrook Villages tells you how.

Chartered in June, 2014
President Distinguished Club 2014-2015


Impossible is not a fact, but only an opinion.

Michelle Surber, ACG, ALB, Club Mentor

Back in June 2014 I was asked if I would be willing to mentor a new club in Fallbrook.

My first meeting with Fallbrook Village Toastmasters; I asked the Club President what I could help.

The President asked that I sit at the functionary table and help the functionaries they were brand new toastmasters. I brought functionary role sheet with a description of each functionary role, timer, grammarian and ah counter worksheets.

Went to the Club Officer meetings to listen and offered advice where appropriate.

Brought extra ribbons I had accumulated through the years to give to the “Best Speaker”, “Best Table Topics”, and “Best Evaluator”.

Even with a loss of key leaders the new club had members who stepped up and filled the vacancies.

I supported and helped where needed, ultimately the club members developed their club’s personality.

The members always eager to take on roles, fund raising, membership campaigns and open house.

It was a joy and pleasure to watch this club grow.

Author: Michelle Surber, ACG, ALS, Club Mentor.  Michelle was also selected as “Mentor of Year” for her dedication to this new club.

Carole Hodges, DTM, Club Sponsor

Chartering a new Toastmasters Club can be an adventure. When I sponsored the Fallbrook Village Toastmasters, I had no experience with starting a club and was oblivious to what was in store. Yet at the end of our first year since chartering, we achieved President’s Distinguished Club status.
In that year we nearly failed before we gained the momentum to succeed. Although we had 24 members on June 5, 2014 when we chartered, we encountered challenges.

  • Members did not fully understand the commitment. A new organization doesn’t have a track record or example to follow. All but 5 of our members were unfamiliar with the roles.
  • Attendance began slipping. Last minute cancellations created havoc and members who didn’t quite understand even ONE role found that they had TWO.
  • Several unexpected resignations caused us to re-evaluate. What do you do when an organization is falling apart? You cannot pretend that it is business as usual. You may not have a full team of committed people to regroup.

With a small team of about 7 people with varied levels of commitment, we rebuilt our club. What I learned are the basics of leadership that can be applied to any organization. It brought us from the verge of collapse to a club which will continue to thrive.
1. Make everyone feel important. Celebrate growth and improvement. Welcome every member and guest with enthusiasm. Recognize and honor people for stepping up to help, especially when they may have been reluctant. Our attitude toward each other began to spread to our guests as we welcomed them.
2. Follow structure and be flexible. Members who were new to Toastmasters often questioned the necessity of functionaries, such as Ah Counters, Grammarians and Timers. Maintaining a focus on excellence provided a foundation for a quality club. All members began to appreciate the challenge of growth. At the same time we had to be creative when we didn’t have sufficient members to run a full meeting. We had grab bag Table Topics where members each put a question in a bag. We had round robin general evaluations and combined roles.
3. Keep it FUN! Celebrate in style. Near Halloween we had a costume meeting with scary stories. Our pot luck holiday party brought out some great cooks and trading recipes. Our fund-raising White Elephant Auction took on a life of its own when one amazing new member got contributions from all over town and we made over $800 to fill the coffers of our fledgling club. At one of our open houses, designed to attract new members, we had a noted comedian come as a guest of one of our members.The local news gave us great publicity, and we had a nice boost in membership as a result.
4. Have a VISION! From the day that I became the founding sponsor of Fallbrook Village Toastmasters, I had a personal vision that our club would be a President’s Distinguished Club in the first year. I had the privilege of belonging to top clubs – first Club 21 in Santa Monica and then Club 47 in Oceanside. These were both President’s Distinguished Clubs. Despite the fact that I am now in Club 3946145 (and I find it hard to remember the number), I knew that I wanted a club equal or better than the clubs I had attended before. I told the members that our goal was to be President’s Distinguished, and one of the top clubs in District 5.
I never doubted because I knew that I would not quit until we reached the top. I didn’t know how. I had no idea that some truly amazing leaders would join our club and bring enthusiasm and energy which would transform us. But I can tell you that they are people who want to live life at their best and make the world better for others.
5. Get out of the way. I am truly humbled by the quality of leaders who have come into our club, taken up leadership and brought us to a new level. Several weeks ago we had our very first “Awards and Installation Banquet” with surprise gifts for everyone. I was the most surprised to receive a massive award signed by all the members of our club, which I cherish. And last night at our meeting, for the very FIRST time since our founding, every role was filled and done with excellence, and I didn’t have a role. When new leaders step up, you have a club. Celebrate!
Our tagline, “Where Leaders Are Made” rings with truth. The skills learned by launching a new club into a tradition of excellence is invaluable.

Author: Carole Hodges, DTM, Club Sponsor

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