I recently helped a Chapter contact members who hadn't been attending meetings. One lady returned my call and said, "Thank you for your phone call. I dropped my membership last year because my husband and I retired, and we're traveling. I hated to drop my membership, but I thought I'd better let you know." I invited her back to the chapter and told her she's always welcome to renew her membership. She sounded like she might actually consider it.
But I couldn't help wondering why this lady thought it was important to call me back when we had never met. Wouldn't most people who had dropped DKG membership just ignore my message instead of returning my call? What was so special about this woman that she called back? And why couldn't we make our chapters so valuable that she would choose to stay?
Obviously, this lady is the kind of DKGer we want in Omega State. She has a sense of duty and responsibility. DKGers do. She expressed thanks. DKGers do. She returned my call. DKGers do. She communicated her feelings. DKGers do. She made me feel appreciated. DKGers do. She was pleasant to talk with. DKGers are.
Her call got me thinking about how we work together, why we respond, and what makes it worth responding to someone, and I remembered something that happened over 20 years ago when I was teaching in a high school where each class had over 1000 students.
There was no way I could get to know 150 students in 40 minutes a day, and it was really easy to be a faceless, nameless person in the midst of 3000 others. So I made up my mind to do two things. First, I decided I would always stop whatever I was doing to listen to a student who came to my room during my conference or lunch period and before or after school. I put students first. And second, I offered to go to one activity each student was involved in during the year. Listening and sharing seem like obvious ways of caring, but the students were delighted
I told them I would grade no papers on Thursday nights because it was date night, and they decided to combine my visits to their events with my date night with my husband. I'd find myself stopping by a pet store to see Antonio before I went to dinner where Alfonzo was a waiter. I went to bike stores, the Missouri rabbit breeders association judging, dance and piano recitals, soccer-football-basketball-baseball-hockey games, and a host of other events. I made time for those 150 students because they needed me to, and I made time for Mike because he needed me too.
The following year, I got a letter from one of the quiet students who had been in my classroom. She'd made an A, but she'd never invited me to one of her events. She said, "Thank you for being so kind. In this big school, it's easy to get lost. I never needed anything special last year, and I don't now either. I just wanted to tell you that when I see you smile at me in the hallway full of students and say, 'Hi, Tanya,' I know that if I ever did need anything, I could come to you. Thank you for knowing my name."
My point is this. No matter how busy we get, we always make time for the things we really value. What can we do to make each DKG meeting so valuable members must attend? Maybe it's just calling someone who hasn't been there in awhile and inviting her back. How can we build relationships that bind us so closely together that we wouldn't dream of giving each other up? Sometimes, all it takes is making time to listen and knowing someone's name.