Monday, April 29, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your Membership: Week 18, Forever Young

Week Eighteen
by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

The sing-song chime that the door alarm makes when it opens is what caused me to glance up.  At first I didn't see anything, then the hesitant little gray head poked through.  I rose from my seat and walked over, and although I didn't know it at the time, my day was about to get better and my perspective realigned.

She walked in, clutching her booklet, as he held the door for her.  She was a tiny thing, with lovely coiffed hair and a spit-spot coordinated and comfortable outfit of slacks and button-up blouse.  He was tall - very tall - and thin;  it would probably be fair to say he was gaunt.  He wore gray cowboy boots, buffed and shined, cowboy stitched polyester trousers, and a matching button-up short-sleeved collared shirt - western, of course, and all in shades of blue-gray.

They had driven from Charles City in the hopes of clarification.  She had registered for Mixed Doubles Bowling, but she wasn't sure we received it.  Her name, she told me in her slight brogue, was Annie, but everyone calls her Nan.  She was worried that the nickname had somehow interfered with her registration.  She began to explain, but he eased into the conversation, adding details and tidbits until I was able to piece things together, and a few clicks on the keyboard confirmed her registration and eased her mind.

They had a plan - to arrive a day early in order to pick up her packet, to stay in a nice hotel for the night, and to take their time arriving to the alley on competition day, because, although they are early birds, "these old bones don't get going so early anymore!"  Oddly enough, he wasn't her bowling partner - "Bill" was.  But his prevalent good nature led him to jokingly offer to "step outside" if we wanted to "girl talk" about it - how "Bill" fit into the picture!  No, he wasn't her bowling partner, but it was more than apparent that he was her partner in life, and he relished in caring for her.

He spoke directions and interstates and timing (yes, he said, he still drives I-64.  In fact, they were planning to drive to Texas this summer.)  I looked closer, and I mentally pulled back the layers and saw the etched face of the cowboy inside - the chiseled chin, the gangly limbs of great strength, the beautiful blue eyes - and he was there.  Back in my own life, Friday wasn't going so smoothly.

But, the door chime, and the pause in the day, to help with directions, maps, and phone numbers, was a gift.  The Virginia Senior Games is a big event in their lives.  They are planning their week around them.  They are carefully crossing the T's and dotting the I's so that they have everything in place far ahead of time.  He proudly told me that she has two (TWO) gold medals and is going for number three this year.

It's easy to get lost in ourselves.  There I was letting the irritation of life-glitches steer my mood.  Then the door opened.  I'm so grateful they found me, and I thank them for the sweet reminder of what we're doing all of "this" for.  As they drove away in their little sedan, the customized license plate sporting a square-dancing command - another snapshot into how they spend their time - I silently thanked them, "Mr. and Mrs. Nan".  And I thank you, Virginia Senior Games volunteers.  It's not just a catchy phrase on a logo - they really are "forever young".

Stay Strong, Relevant, and Engaged.

Monday, April 22, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 17, The Race

Week Seventeen
by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

This post has nothing to do with VRPS membership ... but it does.  It seems that too often of late, our society has experienced tragedy - the stuff nightmares are made of.  If you are like me, the thoughts of shock and horror are never far from mind.  You worry for your loved ones, and you feel helpless as you plow through the day, because what choice do you have?

But you look around and take comfort in your support network.  Most adults spend most of their day, and their week, at work, running the rat race, so to speak.  If they are lucky, their network is no farther than the next desk, the next building, the next county.  Miriam-Webster defines networking as:

"the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically:  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business."

VRPS strives to provide its members not only a professional society in which to help turn jobs into careers, but to turn careers into inspiration.  Your fellow VRPS-ers can be the ones that support you, and watch your back, for those many professional hours, as do you for them.

We're not just a single runner out for a long jog in our respective lives and localities; we're a collection of them.  And so, together, we're a pack of marathoners, training together, and setting each other up for success.  We're the event staff with water bottles and first aid kits.  We're the promoters with medals and words of admiration.  We're the friends and family on the sidelines, cheering you on.

Stay Strong, Relevant, and Engaged.  Now more than ever.

Monday, April 15, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 16, VRPS Golf Tournament

VRPS Golf Tournament
by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

The 2013 VRPS Annual Conference in James City County is geographically advantageous in any number of ways, one of which is its proximity to a wealth of award winning golf courses.

The Jamestown Course of the Williamsburg National Golf Club is one such gem:

"Designed by the Nicklaus Design group, this 4-star GOLF DIGEST winner is a favorite for Williamsburg golfers of all skill and experience levels. With an emphasis on conditioning, it has been said that the Jamestown Course is so well-designed that it could improve your score.

The course measures 7,000 yards from the championship tees and it is a par 72. The Jamestown Course has served as proud host to the PGA Tour Michelob Open Qualifier on three occasions, bringing national attention to Williamsburg golf. It has received numerous awards including "One of the Ten Best Courses you can play in Virginia" by Golf Digest Magazine."

The VRPS Tournament will take place on Saturday, September 7 and is open to the VRPS community:  both members and non-members, conference attendees and non-attendees.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 15, Theme Park Tickets

Discount Theme Park Tickets
by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

Theme park ticket sales are one of four major sources of funding for the Virginia Recreation and Park Society.

Here's the deal:

1.  Over the winter, VRPS negotiates ticket prices with theme park vendors such as Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Water Country USA.  The parks must:

  • be VRPS Commercial members,
  • attend Annual Conference and offer an exhibit booth, and 
  • advertise with VRPS on the website or via publications.

2.  VRPS passes the discount ticket purchase offer on to its members.  Approximately 35 member agencies participate in the ticket sales program:

  • The Director of an agency must be a VRPS member.
  • The Director signs an authorization form indicating that whoever they authorize (them self or another identified person) will be the ticket contact for the year, they will be responsible for making payments, they will make monthly ticket purchase payments, and they will close out their accounts by noted dates.

3.  VRPS and participating agencies pass the savings on to multitudes of patrons.

Theme park season is upon us - join in the fun!

Monday, April 8, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 14, Legislation & Lobbying

Legislation and Lobbying
by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

In order to understand the legislation watchdog function that Virginia Recreation and Park Society performs on behalf of its members, VRPS Executive Director Jim Stutts gave me a tutorial.  Self-admittedly, I'm not much of a government person, and those lessons learned many, MANY years ago in Mr. Wilkerson's Grade 12 high school Government course are long lost.  So here goes.

--Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

The Virginia Legislation Process

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is a 2-chamber body consisting of:
  1. the lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates with 100 members serving 2-year terms, and
  2. an upper house, the Senate of Virginia with 40 members serving 4-year terms.  
Every ten years, based on the census, legislative districts are re-divided.

The state constitution specifies that the General Assembly shall meet annually, convening on the second Wednesday in January.  Its regular session is:
  • a maximum of 60 days long in even-numbered years, and
  • 45 days long in odd-numbered years,
The Governor may convene a special session of the General Assembly "when, in his opinion, the interest of the Commonwealth may require".

Bills can originate in the House or the Senate, and those that are not "killed" in the General Assembly are assigned to committees.  Any member of the General Assembly may propose a bill and may also have a patron, chief patron, and co-patrons who sign on to the bill committee.  

Once a bill gets three "readings", it goes to the other chamber and the process begins again.  A reading is when the bill is heard.  It can go to committee in between readings.  Anyone can speak to a committee, if a bill gets there.

There are over 2000 bills introduced each year; most are amended, many die, and a few hundred make it through the General Assembly and on to the Governor for signature.  The Governor can veto a bill, but the General Assembly can overrule with a two-thirds majority vote when they return in April for the Reconvened "Veto" term which typically lasts one day.

Most bills are effective as of July of the same calendar year.

General Assembly committees occasionally meet during the off season (spring, summer, fall).

Also in the fall, legislators can pre-file legislation that will become a bill when it is introduced in January.

The General Assembly has an excellent, easy-to-maneuver website:

Virginia Recreation and Park Society Lobbying

In order to be represent a client, a lobbyist must:
  • apply to be a lobbyist,
  • register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and
  • file a disclosure form afterwards, identifying any money spent (for example, if representing a client).
Registered lobbyists on behalf of VRPS are:
These VRPS watchdogs track legislative data and any bill relevant to Virginia parks and recreation daily.  They also collaborate with the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties.

It is often necessary for VRPS members to contact their legislators to voice VRPS' position; they can identify their contacts by going to the VRPS website.

To see how VRPS has been lobbying on behalf of its members, please reference the posted annual legislative reports.

  • Click HERE to see what the 2013 legislative platform includes.
  • Click HERE to track the 2013 Virginia legislation.

There are many success stories, the most recent of which is that in the 2013 session, VRPS was able to influence legislators to allow VRPS and other related user groups to spend a year studying to determine and recommend safety procedures to prevent unstable soccer goals from falling and injuring the general public.

So, back to Grade 12 U.S. Government:  how did I do, Mr. Wilkerson?  It just goes to show you ... you do (eventually) use what you learn in high school.  Except trigonometry.  Trigonometry is just ridiculous.