When I became a member of the German Village Society Board of Trustees five and a half years ago, I was renting an apartment on Lazelle and a few months past my wedding day.
Now, as I close in on my term as a board member ending in September, I own a home on City Park, and my husband and I are excited to welcome our first child in August.
It all started because I said "yes" to helping out around the neighborhood I'd lived in for a few years and loved.
The Visitors Center needs someone to hang for a few hours on Sunday and answer questions from travelers from all over the country and the world? Yes. Monster Bash, the Halloween-themed fundraiser which I'd attended as a guest and loved, needs a planner? Yes.
I'll admit, I didn't immediately say "yes" when then-board-president Jeanne Likins and then-GVS-executive-director Shiloh Todorov asked me to consider joining the board as a trustee.
Was I even allowed, because I was a renter? And as a relatively new neighbor and relatively young person, could I offer around that table?
The history of this neighborhood nearly overwhelmed me. But it also has a way of charming you into saying "yes." And so I did.
And in the process, I discovered that, yes, you can be a renter and be a board member. (No, the Society isn't a civic association.) Heck, you can live outside the Village and be a board member.
You can be younger. You can be older. You can drive to Delaware for work. You can take COTA to your office downtown. You can be a lawyer and be a board member. You can be an accountant. You can be a small-business owner. You can be in art school.
You can attend every German Village event on the calendar. You can be focused solely on parking and safety. You can hold perspectives about Village life that aren't the same as everyone else's.
The Society -- and the neighborhood -- benefits from leaders with all these life experiences and more.
Board members are volunteers who are elected by German Village Society members and serve three-year terms (limited to two served consecutively).
Broadly speaking, we're charged with setting the direction of the organization, such as what are the priorities, generally, over the decades and, specifically, this spring. We also are responsible for coordinating and supporting the many other passionate volunteers who serve the Society and Village by, among other things, maintaining Schiller Park and preserving, protecting and educating about our little corner of the world. Historic preservation is at the center of our organization's mission.
Board meetings happen monthly, keeping tabs on the budget and pitching in to help raise funds is an ongoing effort, and the best way to get familiar is to join one of our working committees -- like I did -- which meet regularly.
Will you consider joining the board or just getting more involved?
Start the electronic or the old-fashioned way: Visit germanvillage.com/about-GVS/id-like-to-volunteer or schedule time to sit down with Jeanne Likins or Nancy Turner, co-chairwomen of a committee that's all about improving the organization and helping individuals find their role in it.
You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Go ahead, say "yes."
German Village Society Board of Trustees member Brittany Gibson submitted the Village Notebook column.