Realignment – Once renewals are complete on 31 March, we will have another look at the realignment proposal to see what adjustments are required. As stated in the February newsletter, the proposals will be sent to clubs for consideration prior to the Council meeting in May.

Speech Contests – have had the pleasure of attending most of the division speech contests. Congratulations to all members who represented their areas at division level. Whether you win or not, it is a huge achievement to compete. More information will be circulated soon about the District Conference and Contests. Details of the District Council Meeting will also be provided. This is when we will be electing the incoming leadership team.

Leadership opportunities – There are still vacancies for Area Directors and Division Directors. If you are inspired to develop leadership skills and challenge yourself, please consider nomination. Details on how to nominate were in the last newsletter. Club Officer elections are also due at the first club meeting in May. Have you been looking for potential leaders in your clubs? Please look at the personal growth that you can achieve and how you can support your club members.

 Ralph Smedley said “For the club officer, the opportunity is twofold:

  • First he/she assumes responsibility for the progress and welfare of the club.
  • Second he/she steps into a phase of leadership which can be of great value to personal development.”

Step outside your comfort zone – Over the past few months, I have also had the pleasure of visiting many clubs and participating in the meetings. I have also logged into a few overseas club meetings and a ‘online club in formation’ in Northern Division, Country Communicators. Thanks to the members of those clubs for welcoming me. I appreciate the courtesy and respect shown to me.  

I recommend that everyone visit other clubs. You will always be welcome. Visiting other clubs provides the opportunity to gain new ideas, network with other members and gain a better understanding of the bigger picture of Toastmasters.

Distinguished Club Program (DCP) – Once the membership renewals have been updated by Toastmasters International, we will start to see the full picture for DCP. A significant number of clubs have already achieved 5 or more DCP points. At the time of writing, four clubs have achieved 10 DCP points and several clubs are close. The challenge to becoming distinguished is to achieve the membership growth required as well as the DCP goals. Sadly, every year, we have some clubs that do not get the recognition for their hard work because they missed the membership goal.

Now is the time to check on what your club requires to achieve Distinguished status, set new goals and strive to cross the line before 30 June. It is a very rewarding experience to achieve Distinguished status.

Club signage – The corflute signs have been distributed far and wide across the district. All of the first batch of 50 have been distributed and the second batch of 50 will be allocated to clubs that have requested them when they arrive. The success of this project has prompted district to order a further 100 signs. This project was started as a result of feedback received from Area Director Club Visit reports. Clubs were requesting visible signage. We would love to see photos of the signs in use and feedback on what impact the signs may have had for your club in attracting visitors. This also supports the importance of Area Directors submitting their reports early so that district can act on requests when necessary.

Pathways – It is apparent from the Area Director Club Visit reports that some members are still having issues with Pathways. Last year, district advocated that each club should have a Pathways Champion who could assist members. Some Division Directors have organised regular Pathways online chats. PQD, Kevin, will be exploring options to assist clubs. Meanwhile, if your club, area or division is running any online support events for Pathways, please share the information so others may attend.

A Feel Good Story – From Little Things, Big Things Grow – In March 2020, I started daily Table Topics as a way for members who were not tech savvy to gain skills and confidence in online meetings. This went for an hour every day over four months. We developed a loyal group of members who were passionate about the benefits of learning by doing and wanted to continue, although some said the sessions should end on 30 June. Three passionate members in Jenny Owens, Denise Buckby and Pam Holley took the reins, restructured the sessions to weekly with an additional focus on learning effective evaluations. After a further 6 months, the participants voted to turn the sessions into on online club. HOT (Hour Of Talking) Toastmasters was chartered on 12 January 2021 as the first and only (so far) new club in D69 this Toastmasters year.

HOT has attracted participants from overseas as well as from D69. We have a member from India, Shanmukha, who has been participating for almost 12 months. Shanmukha’s goal was to improve his English. Recently Shanmukha asked if it was OK for some Indian school students to join the zoom meeting. The response was that they could watch and listen, but not participate. The ‘few’ students turned out to be about 60 well behaved students who wanted to help their learning of English by listening to people whose native tongue is English.

What has now evolved is that after the HOT meeting ends, some of us stay online to talk to and listen to the students. Gradually they are overcoming their shyness to come to the camera and talk to us. This week, we have given them a small project to research an Australian animal and prepare a 2 minute talk about it. Most students had not heard of a kangaroo. Next Sunday, some of the students will deliver their 2 minute talk. Through Toastmasters contacts, we have managed to source assistance for Shanmukha to form a gavel club at the school. We were told that these students are from low socio economic families and they are hungry for knowledge so they can move out of poverty.

This has been a heart warming experience for us to be able to spread the simple strategy of learn by doing to a wonderful group of keen students.

If you have a Feel Good story that you would like to share, please send it to me so I can publish it in the next newsletter. We would love to see good news stories on the web site as well.

Barbara Nielsen DTM
D69 District Director 2020/21