Thursday, March 26, 2015

Membership: Ask for the Sale & Close the Deal

Tami Elliott
Membership Ambassador

You believe in what we do, you know the good that we do, and you are passionate about telling others. Why does it seem we have such a hard time getting others to join?

Almost everything in life is a process of one person convincing another person to do something. Whether it’s instilling values in your children, raising money for charity, building consensus at work, negotiating for a raise, or selling the goods that your company may make, a sale is being made.

So it is with building membership.

Most of us are not ‘natural salespeople’ but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn some techniques that will help you get them to sign on the dotted line.

#1. ABC…Always Be Selling…
When you are speaking with prospective members, always keep in mind the ultimate goal and keep working towards it. Don’t get sidetracked. Think about prospective members in your life. Write them down and make a commitment to approach them. Be intentional.

#2. Ask Yes Questions…
Do you think our veterans deserve to be helped? Would you like to help veterans? Has your veteran benefitted from our actions? (If they don’t know, this opens a great conversation where you can explain how we help, and then you can ask “Wouldn’t it be great if we do even more?”) Do you want to help? When you ask a series of ‘Yes’ questions it is much easier to get a ‘Yes’ when you ask the ‘Will you join?” question.

#3. Be Prepared…
Have your ‘Sales’ package ready. Whether you use a notebook, or a binder, or a portfolio, make sure it is stocked with any promotional and informational material, and forms that you might need.

#4. Ask for the Sale…
This is the most important factor of all. You can give the greatest pitch and be the most persuasive person in the world, but if you don’t ask for the sale, you will fall on your face. Be assertive and ask them to join. Ask them to join now. Have your forms ready. If they need time to fill out their eligibility forms, help them do it, but get their signature NOW. Ask “Will you join?” not “Would you like to join?" Another powerful technique is to ask for help: “Will you help the deserving veterans by joining the Ladies Auxiliary?”

#5. Practice…
Spend some time practicing on what to say and how to say it. Everybody has a different comfort level and there is more than one way to sell. Get someone to practice with so you find YOUR comfort level. If you are passionate and believe in what you are selling (and I know we are) anyone can become good at this.

Make this a Legacy Year of reaching 100%+!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Scholarships: Patriotic Art Contest & National Award-Winners

Christine Begin
Scholarships Ambassador

Only a few days left for the month of March. Spring is right around the corner (thankfully for those of us who have had terrible winter weather), and it also means this is my last blog post for the Scholarships Program.

Our last scholarship contest this program year is the Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest. This is a competition where high school students really can let their artistic talents shine in a patriotic theme. They are so talented and every year it’s amazing to see what they come up with! Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see a student from your Department win one of the Ladies Auxiliary’s eight national scholarship awards ranging from $500 to $10,000?!
  • Entries received by local Ladies Auxiliary - March 31
  • Entries received by Department - April 15
  • Entries received by National Headquarters - May 5
Click here for more information and an application.

Congratulations to 2014-2015 First-Place National Winner of the Patriot's Pen essay contest, Ethan Schroeder from the Department of Pennsylvania! Ethan was sponsored by Post and Ladies Auxiliary 92, New Kensington, Pa. I was honored to meet Ethan at the Legislative Conference where he received a $5,000 award during his all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Click here to read Ethan's award-winning essay and watch him deliver it as well!

Congratulations to the 2014-2015 First-Place National Winner of the Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest, Adam Densmore, from the Department of Colorado! Adam was sponsored by VFW Post and Ladies Auxiliary 3631, Aurora, Colo. Adam was awarded a $30,000 Scholarship to be given to the college of his choice when he is enrolled. That will have to wait for a few years since Adam is currently a freshman in high school! Click here to read Adam's award-winning speech and watch him deliver it as well!

It was such a fantastic experience to be a chaperone for the Voice of Democracy Winners
for their all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C.! Spending time with the students was so enjoyable. Observing them interact with each other, and seeing the monuments and museums through their eyes was priceless! Having the honor of being on stage with them, and announcing the scholarship winners was nerve-wracking and exciting, but I had a blast!

Please remind your members to send in their reports for all the contests. We know many of them work so hard throughout the year to get students involved in our Scholarships Program, but they also need to report this!

One last reminder…Remember to recognize everyone! Ladies Auxiliary Members, students, and the media. It would be wonderful to see each Auxiliary Chairman distributing Certificates of Appreciation to her own members, as well as all the student participants. You can also give a Ladies Auxiliary Communications Award to your local newspaper if they were kind enough to publish articles and photos of your contests and winners! We need all the publicity we can get in order to increase future participation!

The time has flown by so quickly. Thank you to my Conference Chairmen and all the Department Chairmen for doing such an outstanding job with this program! It was so interesting to read reports from all around the country, and the different ways you promote the contests, and honor the students.  It was truly a privilege, and a rewarding experience to be the Scholarships Ambassador. Many, many thanks to our National President Ann for appointing me to this position!! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cancer Aid & Research: Educational & Personal Growth

Patricia Kemp
Cancer Aid & Research Ambassador

March is the month of green! The Leprechauns are at the "Pot of Gold" and we are still doing our job - the job of aiding our members that have been diagnosed with cancer through Cancer Grants. We are there to comfort and aid them in any way we can. Our biggest job is to show our Sisters we care and love them, and offer encouragement when they need it most!   

We are almost to our 100% goal of having all Departments donate $2 per member. Perhaps a lucky Leprechaun will pay a visit those 11 that have yet to reach 100% this St. Patrick's Day!

I have received Promotional material from every Department Cancer Chairman. However, I need four promotions from each of you...think “four-leaf clover” to qualify for the charm. 

This “Patriotism Begins at Home” year is quickly coming to a close. It is hard to believe we only have three months left!
  • 1,684 Cancer Grants have been given to our members during the 2014-2015 Program Year - and we still have 3 months until the Program Year is over!
  • That is $926,200 to help with medicines, travel, help, and more!
Educating our members has been one of the program goals this year. Some reasons I have heard about not being able to teach or learn:
  • I don’t have the time. We have time for anything that is important to us.
  • I don’t know how or don’t have the materials. All materials needed are free of charge and are either in our By-laws, Booklet of Instruction or provided by the Ladies Auxiliary or the Cancer Society.
  • I don’t like the person in charge. You can still learn from them and even become an expert that others will listen to. You may even gain respect for the one leading the instruction and become friends. Your positive attitude and willingness to participate will always be one that others will want to emulate.
It's been my pleasure to watch the growth of The Ladies Auxiliary VFW, its members, and the Department Cancer Chairman this year. While no one is perfect, we can all strive to learn and grow. What’s the difference between growth and our typical idea of "perfection?"

Perfectionism is all-or-nothing.
Growth is little-by-little.

Perfectionism is all about the goal.
Growth is about the journey while working to meet the goal.

Perfectionism is about outward appearances.
Growth is about what happens on the inside.

Perfectionism is about what we do.
Growth is about who we’re becoming.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hospital - Bring Spring to Someone!

Grace Matz
Hospital Ambassador

For many of us, Old Man Winter has been more than generous. While we shoveled snow, chipped through ice and bundled up, we knew that each passing day brought us closer to warmer weather.

During this time, we may have felt isolated – shut out from the world around us. We couldn’t go about our normal activities because we had to deal with something bigger than us. We had a small taste of what it’s like for those in hospitals or nursing homes. 

The snow and ice will melt (eventually), and we’ll see the first signs of spring. The sun will shine, flowers will bloom, and the birds will sing. As we enjoy the change of season, we get a bounce in our step and a smile on our face. A lot of us will breathe a sigh of relief!

We have an opportunity to bring spring to those in medical facilities. We can be the ones to take flowers to someone, join them for a visit outside, bring a smile to their face – we can be their "spring." We still have plenty of time to help them celebrate one of the many spring and summer holidays (St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Loyalty Day, Mother's Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Father's Day and Independence Day - I probably missed a few!) and recruit one new volunteer to help! Be sure to check National's Pinterest page for ideas on how to help those confined to medical facilities celebrate these holidays:

I want to thank everyone for all you’re doing for our veterans and those confined to a medical facility. And I want to thank our National President, Ann, for the honor of serving as your Hospital Ambassador this year. I look forward to continue reading about the wonderful things you are doing in your Departments to brighten the days of our nation's veterans and those confined to a medical facility. Have a wonderful Spring!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Legislative Conference Recap

Kathy Schreiber
Legislative Ambassador

I have just returned from the 2015 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., and what an incredible event it was! National Commander-in-Chief John Stroud gave testimony the morning of March 4, before a joint hearing of the Senate and the House Veterans Affairs committee. His topics included:
  • Sequestration and Budget
  • Access and Accountability
  • Veterans’ Health Care
  • Benefits Delivery
  • Success After Service
Commander-in-Chief Stroud did the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary proud through his testimony and answering the questions of members from the Senate and House Committee. What an honor to have been there!

You may watch the testimony here: You may read the testimony by clicking here.

Tuesday’s meetings with the States’ Congressmen were productive. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was awarded the 2015 VFW Congressional Award at Wednesday evening's legislative reception. The award is a "thank-you" for the good work the Senator has accomplished for veterans – what a great veterans’ advocate he is! Also attending the reception was Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, who spoke and stayed to meet and greet the comrades and guests in attendance. These are just several highlights from the busy conference! It truly is a short week in our nation's capital that accomplishes so much. Thank you to all who were able to attend.

This will be my last blog for the 2014-2015 program year. I would like to close this year's Legislative Program by stating that it has been a part of the Ladies Auxiliary for many years and will continue to be a top program. With our Voice, we will continue to make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families, active-duty military and their families, and our future service members. The support and activities of you, the Auxiliary sister, is imperative - Our Voice Matters! Thank you for all that you do today, tomorrow, and will continue to do in the future for our Legislative Program.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Membership: The Ultimate VIP Experience at National Convention

Tami Elliott
Membership Ambassador

At the Mid-Year Conference in Anaheim, Calif., National President Ann Panteleakos and I announced our latest membership contest - the Ultimate VIP Experience at National Convention 2015!

Three leaders of one Department - the Department President, Treasurer, and Membership Chairman – will win the "Ultimate VIP Experience at National Convention" for bringing in the highest percentage of remaining continuous members in their Membership Group from March 1 through May 31, 2015.
For contest rules and VIP prize details, please check out information at the link below.

By winning the Ultimate VIP Experience, you will know that you have done your best for yourself, your Department, the Ladies Auxiliary VFW, and most of all, the veterans who we serve.

See all of you at the Top!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chief of Staff: A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

Vivian Bernotas
Chief of Staff/Extension

At our recent Mid-Year Conference in California each Ambassador presented “Two for the Win” information – two things that will make for a winning year. In Extension, my information included:

1. Presenting Good Job Certificates and the Health Certificates
2. Reporting

It is not too late to complete your assignments. Our year is not over and we still have work to do.
We can still “Establish New Auxiliaries” and “Maintain Current Auxiliaries” – the two basic goals for Extension.
Remember, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

That statement has three parts:
  1. The goal which is what you want to achieve;
  2. The dream which is what you think you can do; and
  3. The deadline which means you will accomplish what you set out to do.
Each member must understand that her contributions directly affect the growth in our programs and her input is vital to our future and our success. As a valued member of our team it is necessary to focus on your goals and commit to teamwork – as you experience this, volunteering has new meaning and a greater purpose. Success!

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin." - Mother Teresa

This is my final blog as the Chief of Staff and Extension Ambassador. This has been a very productive year, and while we have lost some auxiliaries, we have also added many new auxiliaries that are committed, dedicated, vibrant, and full of great ideas, ready to work for our veterans and their families.

This assignment has been exciting and rewarding; thank you to all of the Department Presidents and Department Chairmen for their participation in a great year! Together we have made a difference and we can be so proud! Thank you!

Thank you, National President Ann, for this appointment, and, for leading our Ladies Auxiliary and providing us with the guidance to better serve our veterans and our organization. Our future holds many new ventures that will provide positive and productive change for all – remember we are not using the same cell phone that we used when they first came out – we accept changes and challenges, and we learn to use better and more efficient ways in order to get the job done and be successful. The staff at our National Headquarters is all about effectively leading and guiding us in to the next chapter of our history book. Please do your part to “stay tuned.” I challenge each member to continue spreading kindness; we never know what issues others may be dealing with. Besides, it is much easier to be nice and feel good, than to be a “bully” and accomplish nothing but discontent. Please, let us not forget why we joined and what our mission is - Unwavering Support for Uncommon Heroes.™

As a reminder - I am sharing a few excerpts from the renowned script of All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum:

"These are the things I learned: Share everything, Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat...Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Think of what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world - ...had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes.  And it is still true - no matter how old you are, when you go out in to the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together."

Our National Ambassadors have done a tremendous job this year providing promotional information. I am proud to boast about their accomplishments and congratulate them for their commitment and dedication. What awesome volunteers in these leadership positions! I hope each of you have the opportunity to share your thanks and appreciation with these leaders.

As National Ambassadors we have promoted our programs with excitement and fireworks – we have shared, supported, and demonstrated that “Patriotism Begins at Home!”

"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together."
- James Cash Penney, Founder, JCPenney Company