Welcome to the House of Gordon USA 2016 AGM!
Dear House of Gordon members, family and friends,
I’m not sure it is always very popular but from time to time my messages from Scotland have been more political then might be expected. I try not to take sides in debates where very strong feelings are held because I should remain impartial when it comes to my role as Chief. Having said all that there could hardly have been a period in our recent history when politics matters so much. We, in Scotland, are in the middle of some pretty turbulent times. The issue of independence for Scotland is compounded by our recent UK referendum where the electorate have voted to leave the European Union. Scotland’s First Minister is incensed that Scotland will be taken out of Europe by English votes.
Your President turned up in London a few months ago and warned us that if we voted to leave then we would go to the back of the queue (his words, not mine) in overtures to secure trading rights with America. Just the other day we had Donald Trump speaking in Scotland and saying we had done the right thing and that if he were President we would be at the front of the queue. We are all confused but no one is bored by politics any longer. At the moment it’s better than theatre! I am coming to America next year and hugely looking forward to it. Will Trump with his Scottish connections be in the White House and will I get V.I.P. treatment as a result? Perhaps Lois could get me an invitation to the oval office.
Very best wishes to you all.
We continue positioning the clan for the upcoming generation, adding more conveners and giving our conveners more tools and support. Our membership is exploding and we even have a nine-year-old young Gordon man who insisted on his own membership, and got it! This bodes well for our future, engaging our youth and exciting them about their Scottish
and Clan Gordon heritage is key. It is one of the most discussed topics among our conveners, and we are looking to come out with more ways to make the Gordon Tent fun and family centric. We have a new forum for our conveners where we can converse, and share tent ideas and let Geof and I know what they want or need from national so that we can take that back to the board if needed, or develop new resources in house. Geof & I continue working hard to find and put in place new conveners in areas where we had not had coverage or need more coverage. He will be telling you more about our conveners in his report later!
Our social media continues to give the House a presence and give people a chance to get to know us and each other, and we continue to gain new members through their exposure to the House via our online community in our Facebook Groups & Page, and Twitter Account.
We have taken Susan Gordon Rose’s Epic Project under the national umbrella to be part of our scholarship programs and are excited to be able to help her provide deserving young Highland Pipers and Drummers with the kit needed to continue to compete on the boards and further their talent. Our youths’ talent in the highland tradition of performing arts is one of the best ambassadors we have to showcase our Highland cultural and musical heritage. We are so proud of all our scholarship recipients in the Charles O. Gordon Memorial Scholarship Program and now also in The Epic Project Program.
Our Christmas in July last year went well, and we had a lot of support for the USMC 1/7 who we adopted during their deployment. They made it home in April and were every appreciative of the support we sent them. If you have a member deploying, please let us know so we can support them with care packages. We have sent out many care packages over the years to members who deploy, but we can only do this when we know about it! We are also looking for a nomination for Christmas in a Box – if you know of a Company or Battalion- who will be deployed over the Holidays let one of the board members know and we will consider them for adoption. It was a huge morale boost for the 101st Airborne in 2014 and the USMC 1/7 in 2015, it would be nice to continue this project supporting our men and women at Arms who selflessly serve and protect us.
It was a very quiet year for us with no Bylaws revisions needed or proposed. We have all of our past year 501(c)(3) filings (2008-current) with the California Attorney General squared away correcting an oversight dating back to the beginning of this incorporation. We had filed yearly with the state commission, but found that we also needed to file annually with the AG.
We continue expanding our convener coverage and working hard to bring in new conveners and some younger conveners to position us for the next generation! Sheila Mills Bedsole took on Alabama giving us coverage for the first time in that state, and she did it in style! She had a very professional welcoming tent at the highland games in Dothan and did a fabulous job increasing Alabama’s membership by 171.43%! Those numbers may be up from that as I am working from data that is not current and memberships have been pouring in fast.
Mark Dodd who we met and had some very interesting conversations with last year at Grandfather took on Tennessee and Kentucky and was at the Glasgow, KY games and did a great job. After many years without representation, it is great to have a Gordon Tent at that festival and in Kentucky again! We should see some growth in this area and with Glasgow under his belt, we did see an increase of 114.3% so good things are to come.
Jen Mills Martin has taken on co-convening Florida with Cynthia Gordon Patrick. Cynthia remains in the lead and will focus on South Florida while Jen will focus on North Florida. Together they are creating a dynamic team to really explode our presence in Florida.
We have another person interested in helping out in New England and may be bringing him onboard to help Rob Gordon. We will be working it in the same scenario as we are doing Florida keeping the operating budget intact to give them more options and support to grow the membership in the area. We are looking for more people to come onboard in the Mid-Atlantic area in the same way so we can better cover Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
We created a secret (not able to be seen by the public) Facebook Group for our conveners so that they can get to know each other, bond and share ideas. We have had some exciting exchanges and many ideas are in development – a new kid’s handout, a handout on some of our more famous Gordons, and some unexpected Gordons of fame that the average person wouldn’t readily recognize were Gordons! We have already identified some needs and we have addressed them, for instance we found that Mark Todd in Washington only had one small sign to identify the Gordon Tent, so we sent him the new convener banner set and he also purchased the new parade banner that Lois designed and we made available for our conveners as an option. We are looking forward to some very good things to come out of this forum and are looking to schedule a conference meeting in the near future with our conveners through this venue. They are getting fired up and so are we! We are all looking forward to the Chief’s visit next year and the conveners are going to be playing a major part in the planning.
Katy Richards, our convener for Texas, has created two new Facebook pages as well. One for HoG Texas as well as one for HoG Oklahoma/Kansas when she thought that she would be relocating to Kansas. We are still looking for someone to come forward and help us with Oklahoma and Kansas.
A big round of applause needs to be sent out to ALL of our conveners for their fantastic efforts in signing up new members as well as maintaining the existing membership. We’ve had a goal in place for quite a while to increase our members and all of their hard work and vivacious enthusiasm in the past three years resulted in a 373.3% increase over the all-time low reported in 2012!! Keep up the great work and as always, if you need any tools, items, handouts, or any other materials, let us know!
Certified 2016 Voting Members: 435 Votes needed for Quorum: 87
New members this year: 160
Received Renewals from members who had been inactive since:
From 2010: 1
From 2011: 3
From 2012: 2
From 2013: 5
From 2014: 11
From 2015: 12
Memberships in 2016 were up 120.62% over 2015, and reactivated memberships are up 121.43% over 2015. We are working hard on membership retention and reactivation.
Memberships paying online via PayPal this year: 53, up 113%% over 2015.
As of June 30, 2016, we have 216 paid 2017 memberships, up 105.6% over this time last year.
Bonnie G. Linse
Our main website continues at the same pace as before, with peak months in April, June, August, October and December. This corresponds to key events, the beginning of the Festival season in April, the AGM, Fall Festival push with several BIG festivals, the December newsletter and beginning of Florida’s season in January. The peaks run just ahead or concurrent of these events. The majority of the traffic is membership driven, our members and those who receive the information from our conveners at the festivals – with referrals from our Facebook presence and Google coming in second.
Our Facebook page and Twitter page are getting more notice and we are getting more followers and seeing re-tweets. I would like to have someone work with me on the Twitter account. I find I have little time to really make this as effective as it could be and I have a couple of people in mind for the job. Our online community at our Facebook Group has grown by 114.6% over last year and now has over 1200 members.
In The House! featured an article on Abergeldie Castle, which faced flood waters that eroded the riverbank and threatened to topple the historic home into the River Dee this past winter, and an article of A.A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh. Winnie is the official Gordon Tent Mascot at the House of Gordon USA tents, and is always a huge hit with young and old alike. Both received much interest and positive comments from the members. At the request of many members, we also had an article on the Battalion of Marines we adopted and the member who served as our piper for several years that many of you watched grow up. This Battalion, USMC 1/7 out of Twentynine Palms in California, is one with a long proud history of service and Company C, better known as Suicide Charley, won fame in WWII at Guadalcanal & Peleliu. The Battalion and Suicide Charley continue to do well and were written up in an article in Marine Times which we were allowed to reprint as part of our article to give our members an understanding of the importance of the support we give to these fine young Marines & Sailors. The fact that their routine training for their deployment enabled them to send the winning squad with no special preparation to the first Super Squad competition the 1st Division has held in 15 years shows the level of their commitment and skill. This is a well deserving group. Their letters of thanks say it all in telling of the morale boost given to them when they were away over the Holidays serving our nation and protecting our liberties.
We awarded two scholarships this spring to two deserving young ladies of Gordon Heritage and this morning awarded the final scholarship along with a trophy to the Grade IV Piper of the Day, James Campbell, here at Grandfather Mountain! We also had some dark green t-shits printed with a color rendition of the Gordon Belted Crest that we are selling to support the scholarship fund.
The two scholarships awarded by application this year went to:
Destiny Swainston of Dunedin, Florida is a 15-year-old Highland Dancer. She and her sister live with their grandmother, Ruth Gordan Alber, who makes all of her dance outfits! She started dancing in 7th grade as Highland Dance is offered at her middle school. She says, “Dancing for me isn’t simply about competing or even being the best. I dance because it truly is my passion. I enjoy every moment of it.” She has been honing her skill with lessons and competitions and will be moving up to Premiere competition this summer. Costs have added up and if it weren’t for Ruth’s skills as a seamstress it would be nearly impossible. We have awarded her a $500.00 grant to attend a dance workshop, and wish her the best of luck in her competition year!
Isabel Friedrichs of Escondido, California is a 15-year-old Highland Dancer who has garnered inspiration from family stories of her Great-grandmother Mary Laing’s strong character and determination when she came to the USA from Scotland. That same determination has her setting the goal of competing in the World Highland Dance Championships in Scotland this year. It also shows in the fact that she has achieved a 4.0 GPA, and is an accomplished violinist with the Youth Philharmonic Symphony and being named to the California Scholarship Association and also Student of the Year at The Classical Academy of Escondido! We have awarded Isabel with a $400.00 grant toward her goals.
We have taken The Epic Project under our national umbrella as a second scholarship program and the 2016 recipient is Linda Snoddy of Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, CA. Linda not only has had numerous Piping Awards and maintains a high GPA, but gives generously of her talents in representing of the Scottish the Community at Large, piping at Garden of Innocence Unclaimed Baby Funerals of Kern County, at the Wounded Heroes Fund of Kern County, and at The National Cemetery. This is above and beyond piping at numerous Police and Fire Events plus Highland Game Competitions.
Several members have posted on HoG and Project FB groups that they are documented descendants of the Gordons of Sheepbridge, Co. Newry, (No.) Ireland. I have encouraged them to have their (Or their male proxy) to test their Y-DNA.
The Sheepbridge Gordons are prominent among the Gordons documented in Armistead C. Gordon’s book, Gordons in Virginia, which can be downloaded in .pdf format from the Project website, or the House of Gordon USA Genealogy Books online page. Y-DNA results from these descendants is important for two reasons:
- They are Scots-Irish and Armistead Gordon’s book suggests they are from the Sir William Group of Gordons.
- We need more individuals who have documented descent from Scots-Irish to see if we can tie them in with people
in SW Scotland where, it is presumed, the majority of Scots-Irish originated.
A Project member recently suggested that we draft a webinar showing members how to interpret their DNA results. As a webinar is beyond my ken, I thought I would work up a Power Point presentation and post it on the Project website.
Photos Copyright 2013 Lois M Todd: All Rights Reserved, used with permission.