Organizing the Organizers:
When colleagues are few and far between
by Hazel Thornton
GO Month Shred-A-Thon (PONM with friends and family volunteers)
Happily, they all replied. Some did know each other; No, they did not meet; Yes, what a great idea! So, although I get credit for the idea, I must say I was glad they took it and ran with it. I joined them a few months later and we have been together ever since.
NAPO requires 20 members for a chapter, and for good reason. It’s a lot of work to have officers, task forces, sub-committees, event coordinators and such! My role in NAPO-LA, for the six months I was there, was chapter librarian. PONM, by contrast, is v-e-r-y informal, as is the entire state of New Mexico, I learned. We do have a few assigned (more like assumed) roles, like Treasurer and Resource List Editor, but we do not have a President or anything as formal as that. We meet in each other’s homes on a rotating basis. Each month’s host prepares the agenda and writes the meeting minutes. At the next meeting the previous host makes a presentation on a topic of her choice. Our main rules are:
- All PONM members must first be members of NAPO; and
- Cashews must be served at every meeting. (Would I kid about such a thing?)
We’ve experienced some growing pains, to be sure – What should we call ourselves? (We switched from an Albuquerque-centric name to a more inclusive one.) How shall we handle membership fees? (We vote on all expenditures, and if we run out of money we all chip in again.) How can we include organizers who live hundreds of miles away? (We have tried various meeting locations, and anyone who is a NAPO member can join and have a listing on our website, but those who live too far away to attend meetings tend to fall away after a while.) When are we ever going to find a competent web designer? (We love our current webmistress!) But things have gone swimmingly the past few years.
PONM with Organizing Expert Geralin Thomas (tallest), on the set of A&E Hoarders.
Our informality has not worked for everyone. We’ve had members that moved here from large chapters and got frustrated with us. But the seven founding members of PONM remain steadfast friends and colleagues. Coming from a corporate environment, complete with water coolers, I don’t know what I’d do without colleagues to compare notes with, and to rely on for support. We refer clients to each other, hire each other to help on jobs, encourage and applaud each other’s successes, and work on community projects as a group. The PR we get as a group, and individually, increases awareness of the organizing industry and helps all of us.
Some of our accomplishments over the years include:
- Pro bono organizing for non-profits (Adelante, Cuidando los Ninos, NM Kids Matter)
- GO Month Shred-a-thons and Recycle-a-thons
- Messy Desk Project for Albuquerque the Magazine (15-page spread)
- Albuquerque Journal article -- “By the Numbers”
- Volunteer team on A&E Hoarders (Dee, episode #64, with Geralin Thomas)
- Three Get Organized tips e-books (available for free on our website)
- Hosted gatherings for colleagues who were in town for book signings, or just passing through (Barry Iszak, Donna Smallin, Ramona Creel).
When I tell people about PONM, some are surprised that we are not more competitive. Although our skill sets overlap, as do even some of our social circles, we all have different niches. We figure there’s plenty of business for everyone, and we might as well have some fun while we’re at it!