November- It was not too many years ago, while I was reading my newest issue of the Michigan Snowmobile News, that I noticed something peculiar. Several issues contained photographs of many of the same people at different events. These were not photo shopped photographs, or pulled from a library of photos on file, but rather photos of volunteers attending and contributing at many different events throughout the year.
Many of those individuals in the photographs had gray hair and looked to be at retirement age. I often wondered if the MSA membership had any young riders, perhaps younger families with children still living at home. Of course I know now that we do have many young families involved, and it’s really great to see. I have personally met many fine young couples over the years who make the sport of snowmobiling their primary family activity on weekends and for family vacation planning.
I often laugh because now when I thumb through some magazine issues, I sometimes see myself in a photo. That’s when I think to myself — “Geez, that guy looks old. I wonder if he’s retired?”
Juggling Work and MSA
The fact is, I’m still employed full time, and I must admit that juggling my work schedule, using my vacation days for MSA business, and traveling to events and meetings has been a challenge. Returning emails and phone calls, while trying to maintain a career and personal life has also been trying at times. Fortunately, the MSA staff and officers make me look better than I deserve. I have grown to respect their dedication and hard work.
Before I jumped into the deep end of the pool myself and got plugged into MSA, I like many of you, perhaps had the mindset that I couldn’t possibly contribute anything to this organization, and how would I find the time?
As I reflect on my two years as president, and the year previous to that as vice president of MSA, I wanted to share my personal experience with you. I wanted to share how I got started on my relatively short journey. I started out getting involved in organized snowmobiling because my wife and I were new to the sport and didn’t really know what or where to ride. We began meeting several members of MSA. It was about 10 years ago that we attended our first MSA Ride-In. We had so much fun and realized that this was an easy way to meet other snowmobile enthusiasts like us. I didn’t even know what MSA really was!
They Listened to What I Had to Say
As I began attending events and meetings, I was hesitant, but reluctantly made some suggestions on how I thought some things could be improved upon. I was amazed when seasoned members listened to my viewpoints and challenged me to present those ideas formally. I remember my first challenge was to redesign our membership brochures. Today we have the pocket version of the membership brochures. Thanks to the many generous donations by clubs and individuals; the membership cards have been produced by the thousands — free of charge to MSA!
As I got more and more involved, I was asked if I’d consider filling the vice president position of MSA. After a large gulp, I said yes. Of course that led to the real possibility of adding an additional two years of presidency after that, and additional years of past president service in addition to those already served (I didn’t read the small print.) How could I possibly have the time I thought? Besides, there are so many others out there who are so much more qualified than I am. I’m still relatively new to this sport!
Before I knew it, I was nominated and I stood amazed that there were people in this fine organization that actually had faith in me, even though inside I was terrified. Looking back, I’m so glad that I didn’t say NO. Although I must admit I came really close!
Everyone Should Take the Time to Volunteer
I have always felt that everyone should volunteer in some capacity for something worthwhile at some point in their life. There are always very deserving charities and non-profit organizations that are out there just waiting for someone like you! You won’t learn and experience something new until you just do it! Sometimes you have to just jump in with both feet and pray! One of the benefits that you will carry with you forever, I promise, is the appreciation of others who tirelessly give of themselves year after year, time and time — again without complaining. These are the people who are contagious and who I enjoy being around. These are the people who amaze me.
I encourage you to get involved in MSA if you can. The fact is that we need you. I know that everyone has a story or experience to share. Have you ever considered writing an article for this publication? We have an excellent editor and volunteer proof readers that I really appreciate. I’m certainly not a writer or a grammar scholar, and wordsmithing is something that I’ve learned how to do out of necessity. Our publication staff has saved me many times from embarrassing misspelled words and sentences that run astray. Everyone has something to contribute.
Proud to Help Others
I remember during high school I became a volunteer firefighter. I was so proud and the feeling of helping others helped me mature much faster as a teenager, I think. I for once experienced life outside of myself and began to feel a calling, a purpose which eventually led me to 20 years of service as a professional firefighter.
I have chaired our local fire authority, been involved as chairman of our township parks and recreation commission, and have even served on our church’s lead team and steering committees. I valued each experience, but must admit that I was content and elated with passing the baton to the next runner when the time came and my term expired! I never dreamed of being a president of a state association, who would have thought. But, like the other experiences that I have had, I look forward to watching our newest and brightest volunteers run with the torch soon. It will be satisfying to watch, and I look forward to the next chapter as new volunteers get involved.
I appreciate so much our military reserve men and women, Sunday school teachers, food pantry helpers, civic club leaders and helpers, snowmobile club volunteers, and MSA volunteers! There are hundreds of other organizations in your own community that rely on your generosity of time and talent to help make a difference for others. Maybe you can just contribute financially, that’s great! If you are a volunteer, congratulations and THANK YOU!
We All Live in a Busy World
The fact is, there is a shortage of people willing and able to help at many of the most deserving organizations that we all rely on. Sure, I know everyone is busy, but I also know that it’s really a matter of where we place our priorities. I would like for you to think for a moment how you could help a person or organization by investing your time and talents. Unfortunately, we all live in a busy world, but sometimes the willingness to serve others gives us a supernatural strength to help us in making a difference in people’s lives.
The very fact that you support MSA by renewing your membership is a testament to your willingness to serve and to support our efforts. We certainly don’t take your membership for granted and want to thank you so much for making a difference. It has been my honor and humble privilege to serve alongside each one of you. I look forward to watching MSA succeed and prosper in the coming months and years. It’s because of you! Blessings to all!