By Jason Meadors
When the pandemic shutdown happened in March 2020 and we were looking for something to do, I tore up the front yard, dug a creek bed, lined it with plastic and rocks, built some little hills, and started planting wildflowers, shrubs, and a tree.
The first-year results were pretty desolate, and the neighbors quietly wondered along with me what in the world was the plan.
Shrubs withered. Flowers struggled. The tree died, and I did some grieving as I uprooted it.
It’s three years and some months later. The yard is ablaze with coneflower, cosmos, larkspur, and other wildflowers. Drought-resistant shrubs have taken root and flourish. The battle against weeds is never-ending. And a new tree is healthy, leafed out, and promises blossoms for next spring.
So it goes with association work. The Board looks at what works, what doesn’t, and sometimes legacies need to be ripped out and replaced. So much curating to do, and endless gratitude to our staff for their efforts in that endeavor. You plant seeds of ideas and projects. Some sprout, some don’t. Some programs work, some don’t. The ones that don’t work have to be evaluated honestly and be reworked — or discarded or replaced entirely.
Around this time last year, I found myself with no little wonder coming to the apex of our volunteer structure, the presidency, wondering how in the world it had happened. But it did. And now I cannot express adequate appreciation for those who have mentored, supported, even complimented, and sure, criticized me over 43 years of volunteerism now.
There are far too many to thank personally, but I have to mention a few near and dear names. The late Donna Kanabay of Florida, my sister-warrior through turmoil and joy. Dave Wenhold, supportive as a brother, which in fact he has been to me. Laura Butler, the glue of any NCRA presidency for over 40 years now. NCRA has no idea how lucky it is to have these two on our staff. And ultimately, my wife of 49 years, Sherri, The Blonde, with her 24/7 support, devotion, and love. Could not have done it without you, wife.
We look over our figurative yard now. We’ve done a lot this year, and we can be proud. There’s a lot left to be done. Numbers are our existential challenge. Audio recording — not only have we competed successfully with it, but we incorporate it for the best possible service and product to the public. We have been doing — and will do — the same with artificial intelligence. It is one of many tools we can employ. But if we don’t have the professionals to fill the positions, it doesn’t matter how well we compete. We won’t be there for it.
Our NCRA A to Z® effort, headed by my mentor and dear friend Max Curry, is dynamic and hitting new levels of success. It is bringing in hundreds of prospects. We need thousands. Meanwhile, there is a group of reporters and captioners out there providing the client base with the exact same results that we who press keys are. If we don’t look at a united front of humans who keep and protect the record, we deny ourselves opportunity. Immodestly, I said this 23 years ago and have seen zero reason to change that opinion. It’s encouraging to see more and more state associations doing this. Perhaps someday we’ll have a national will to do so.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve this profession we hold so dear. It has been the pinnacle of my professional life. The hope we as volunteers have is to leave our place — our yard, if you will — improved for the attentions that we gave it. It’s now time for me to put those yard tools aside and give myself and my dear wife a rest and turn it over to the next crew with whom we have placed our trust.
Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, is the outgoing President of NCRA.