Volunteers sometimes pay a heavy price!

November 2106 From the President Elect

 

As I got more and more involved in MSA, I quickly learned that without the countless numbers of volunteers that always seem to step up to the plate, MSA would not and could not exist. There is no telling what our snowmobiling program would look like without this support. Is MSA perfect? The answer is NO of course, because human beings are not perfect, at least I’ve never met one yet that is here today on earth. But we are however blessed to have countless numbers of folks that try each day to make MSA a better organization for all those that ride Michigan snowmobile trails and who love our sport.

I’d like to start out by thanking MSA’s President, Rick Brown. Many of you have known Rick far longer than I have. Rick decided to volunteer again as President this past year so that he would be able to mentor to upcoming officers in the midst of some challenging times that we are currently facing. Rick has been instrumental in giving me some background information and points of MSA history that certainly help in understanding where we have come from and where we are going, or at least want to go. Rick is a true volunteer and cares deeply for MSA!

Also I want to thank our past presidents, secretary, treasurer, executive board and board of directors. All of these volunteers, including all of our committee members, faithfully attend bi-monthly meetings and travel long distances at their own expense so that MSA is well represented in the decision process. These individuals are all very willing to share their experiences and provide support to those of us that are relatively new to MSA. Those that help us at the various events that MSA attends also deserve special recognition. I could go on and on from those that brush and post signage, obtain grants, operate groomers, etc. It’s really up to all of us to support one another and help motivate each other when times get tough.

When I think of people who are willing to take time to volunteer, use vacation time for special events, travel long distances to attend important meetings, or simply raise their hand when asked, I get a renewed hope in our society. That selfless act of stepping up and volunteering is really a beautiful thing. It should not be motivated by guilt, but rather motivated by a sense that change is possible and by helping others, the burden is lighter for all.

But let’s be real here, volunteering for something takes a commitment, and may not be for everybody. VOLUNTEERS SOMETIMES PAY A HEAVY PRICE! I sometimes have to remind myself that everyone brings different talents and skill sets to the table. I also have to remember that I am not perfect, and cannot expect others to be as well.

I guess the main reason that I decided to write this column on volunteerism, is the fact that I read so many emails and letters from our members and non-members that are frustrated with current events and want change. Although I agree and sympathize with many of the comments, I find that when asked to call me or others to discuss their concerns further or attend our meetings and get involved, most unfortunately do not want to get involved and shut down. What’s really amazing to me is that some folks want to criticize MSA in a lengthy email or Facebook post, when they themselves are not even active members! Please get involved and VOLUNTEER! We need you! We really do value your comments and are willing to listen to you. But we also will encourage and challenge you to be a part of the solution if you are willing and able.

One of the challenges of my job in my professional life, and also in my MSA life, is about listening to people’s concerns. I have had wonderful conversations with those that are poised and ready to be combative over the phone, only to have the conversation end with mutual respect and often time’s resolution. Sometimes we agree to disagree, but at least we came to the fence line and listened to one another for a brief time and “shook hands” once we signed off.

As we all go into a new year with MSA, It is my sincere hope and desire that you get involved when and where you can. It’s also my hope that the challenges that we face now and will face in the future will not detract you from enjoying the sport that we all love- snowmobiling! Let’s all try to put things in perspective this upcoming winter. I certainly encourage you to voice your opinion, and even your criticism, but let’s all work on channeling those feelings and frustrations in a direction that will create change. Also being remindful that change sometimes takes time and different approaches and tactics.

Make no mistake; there will be both wanted change and unwelcomed change ahead. Michigan is one of many states that face economic challenges ahead, and it’s how we all handle it that will truly show the character of our membership. We don’t have all the answers yet, but together I’m confident that we together will get through these tests of character and will see light at the end of the tunnel.

So until then, get out and enjoy this winter and the sport of snowmobiling with your friends and family. Let’s celebrate the times when the conditions are great and let someone know that you had a great time. And when they are not so good for whatever reason and your frustrations start to build, know that we “get it”, and that we’ve all been there too. Let’s find out how we can improve things to make it better-together!

Thanks to all the volunteers who have served, are serving, and are willing to serve! All of us deserve Mother Nature’s help this winter and hope that she steps up and “volunteers” to give us the snow that we are all longing for!

Jeff Goss

MSA Vice President