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Summary of our 2013 fall seminar and workshop
GDUA’s theme for the 2013 meeting was “Building Our Base”, and in keeping with the theme, the entire focus of the program was on getting GDUA’s membership more excited and involved about what GDUA can and should be doing here in Arizona.
After a quick breakfast and welcoming remarks by President Connie Jacomini, Vice-President Ron Brooks opened the meeting with an icebreaker exercise designed to get the group talking and to begin the process of deepening friendships and enhancing group cohesiveness. The exercise got everyone talking and laughing, which provided a good foundation for the discussions that followed.
The first items of business were brief reports from President Connie Jacomini, Secretary Lisa Brooks and Treasurer Jacque Olson. The group stressed that although 2013 had not been a wildly successful year for GDUA, it was a good year. Membership is stable, and the treasury is in good shape. In addition, the group participated in the Vision Rehabilitation and Training Exposition (VRATE) and held several social events throughout the year, including GDUA’s very popular Diving with Dog Guides Pool Party. All agreed that GDUA should continue and expand these activities in the future.
The group then discussed its affiliation with Guide Dog Users, Inc. GDUI has undergone tremendous leadership challenges, However, most GDUA members believe that it is important to remain affiliated with GDUI and to work for positive change. GDUI will hold its elections in May of 2014, and the group expressed a desire to see whether or not elections will result in real change for the organization. If not, the affiliation issue will be revisited next year.
After discussing GDUI, the group held annual elections for all Board positions. The following GDUA members were elected for the upcoming year. President – Ron Brooks, Phoenix Vice-President – Liz Whitlock, Chandler Secretary – Mardi Hadfield, Tucson Treasurer – Jacque Olson – Mesa Director – Rachel Krieg, Tucson
After a break for lunch, the group heard from AzCB President Barbara McDonald who gave a comprehensive report of AzCB and local chapter activities and plans. Barbara also discussed several ongoing ACB fundraising programs, including the Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) Program and two ACB shopping opportunities, the Holiday Auction and the ACB MiniMall. Barbara closed her remarks by encouraging GDUA members to get involved in other AzCB chapters and in the state organization.
After Barbara’s presentation, the group spent time learning and practicing dog massage techniques, which were demonstrated by Ms. Valerie Ryan, who is a professional dog massage and therapy specialist. Massaging one’s guide dog offers many benefits for both dog and handler, including reduced stress, improved health and mobility, and a deeper bond between dog and handler. This was the second time GDUA conducted this session, and it has proved to be very popular for the handlers, and although it’s pure speculation, we believe the dogs like it as well.
The GDUA Annual Meeting wrapped up with a presentation from Lisa Brooks on products and services which are available through home delivery for most GDUA members. These include dog food and other supplements, vet and grooming care, and much more. Several GDUA members would like to see information of this nature on the GDUA website.
The final discussions of the day focused on plans for the upcoming year. One concrete idea that the group would like to tackle is the creation of a Speaker’s Bureau. The group would also like to continue and expand parties and other social activities.
GDUA is seeking new members.
For the price of one GDUA membership, an individual will gain membership in GDUA, AzCB, GDUI and the ACB. Annual dues are $20, and the 2014 membership application is now available. Renew or become a GDUA member by clicking here.