Lifestyle

How to Attract Millennials to Rotary

How has an organization founded by a man under 40 lost its relevancy among young people in the same country in which it began? I adore participating in Rotary, but as I ventured outside of my district I noticed something jarring—in America and around the world, very few millennials are involved in Rotary. People aged 18-35 just don't come. In session after session, training after training, I heard that Rotary is shrinking in the US. Members are dying off and are not being replaced by younger blood, and something needs to change…stat.

Rotary Club of Lynchburg-Morning President String: President Nominee Jessica Clarkson, President Aaron Van Allen & President Elect LaShonda Delivuk. All three members have received the Millennials on the Move award that recognizes the top leaders in the Lynchburg region under 40.   Photography CJ Harris, T-Shirt Design LaShonda Delivuk

Rotary Club of Lynchburg-Morning President String: President Nominee Jessica Clarkson, President Aaron Van Allen & President Elect LaShonda Delivuk. All three members have received the Millennials on the Move award that recognizes the top leaders in the Lynchburg region under 40. 
Photography CJ Harris, T-Shirt Design LaShonda Delivuk

In these sessions, I sat back quietly as people rattled off potential solutions to this giant problem: lower dues and attendance requirements, flexible meetings, more socials, membership drives, and the list goes on. But one thing irked me. More often than not, no one thought to ask the millennial in the room.

Though I’ve always been considered an old soul, I’m 27. I'm a millennial, I'm an entrepreneur, and I became a member of Rotary when I was 23 years old. In the early stages of working from home, I struggled to build relationships with like-minded people because my job kept me fairly isolated. After shopping around and seeing other service clubs, I settled on Rotary because it felt like home. Fast-forward four years and now I serve as my club’s President Elect, Secretary and Public Image Chair. Rotary changed my life, so I chose to write this article in an effort to see Rotary not just survive but thrive.

President Aaron Van Allen & President Elect LaShonda Delivuk

President Aaron Van Allen & President Elect LaShonda Delivuk

Club Members Prior to Genworth Virginia 10 Miler Service Project 

Club Members Prior to Genworth Virginia 10 Miler Service Project 

My home club, the Rotary Club of Lynchburg-Morning, VA, has been affectionately referred to as “the club on steroids.” This summer, current President Aaron Van Allen (a fellow millennial) and I laid down an ambitious strategic plan for our club after PETS. We wanted to see people get excited about Rotary again—and since July, our club has been on fire. Packed out service projects, phenomenal attendance, increased giving to The Rotary Foundation, five new members, and it’s only been a few months. To put it simply, life in Lynchburg-Morning is good.

But Lynchburg-Morning wasn't always a picture of vibrancy. When I joined the club in 2014, we had around 45 members. Now we have 65 members, 48% of our membership is 49 or younger. We’ve also grown from just 3 women in 1987 to 15. What's our secret?

Great mix of members at the quarterly visit to Lynchburg Daily Bread to serve food to hungry in the City of Lynchburg. Club charter members serving alongside members less than 4 months old.  

Great mix of members at the quarterly visit to Lynchburg Daily Bread to serve food to hungry in the City of Lynchburg. Club charter members serving alongside members less than 4 months old.  

Millennials are attracted by the same things that attract retirees, Boomers at their apex, and Gen Xers with children. People, no matter the age want to feel a sense of purpose. They want to know they belong. They want to see they are making a difference.

Some suggest lowering the bar to attract more millennials. Lowering dues might help add more members, but you’ll struggle to retain them if low cost was the primary focus. Plus, by offering lower dues only to millennials, you alienate retired members on fixed incomes and middle-aged members with children. Members of any age may encounter financial hardships that make it difficult to pay dues. As for me? I don’t have a company paying my dues. I choose to pay to be in Rotary because it is valuable to me. It’s not about lowering the cost; it’s about increasing the value.

Largest service project in club history at Rise Against Hunger this summer. Over 10,000 meals were packaged and sent to Haiti Outreach Ministries.

Largest service project in club history at Rise Against Hunger this summer. Over 10,000 meals were packaged and sent to Haiti Outreach Ministries.

Instead, our clubs should reflect the communities in which we serve. If you live in a multicultural community, your club should be multi-cultural. If you live in a community with a diverse age range, your club should include members in all stages of life. Younger members may add vibrancy. The 20+ year members may add wisdom, insight and financial backing that the millennials simply can’t deliver yet.

Creating a family atmosphere will help celebrate the differences within your club. Serve alongside each other, then go grab a meal. Talk to each other outside of meetings, and learn more than names and occupations. When Rotary began, Paul Harris simply wanted friends and fellowship. Service was a byproduct of their focus on relationships. Millennials crave connectedness—so build meaningful service and meaningful relationships together.

Millennial members Jessica Clarkson & Courtney Hunter Godsey participating in our signature golf tournament fundraiser.

Millennial members Jessica Clarkson & Courtney Hunter Godsey participating in our signature golf tournament fundraiser.

Member James Peery participated & helped acquire tournament sponsors in 2017 that helped raise $36,000 for non-profits in Lynchburg. 

Member James Peery participated & helped acquire tournament sponsors in 2017 that helped raise $36,000 for non-profits in Lynchburg. 

Celebrate wins in your club. Children who graduate with honors. Job promotions. Wedding anniversaries, you name it! Invite other Rotarians to your home for a World’s Greatest Meal. At the end of the day, build a community of people with a strong belief in putting the needs of others above yourself. People will see that from the outside and beg to be included. You won’t have to twist their arms. When a millennial (or anyone else) feels like a part of a family, you’ve got a Rotarian for life.

$10,491 Debt Mountain. I Climbed. I Conquered in 3 Months Flat.

I'll be honest.  I didn't want to write this post.  I remember reaching out on FB a week or so ago asking if you guys would be interested in me blogging my journey but it didn't occur to me until this moment that I had to be vulnerable and let you in. Reveal that I'm not flawless, I make mistakes...I'm human.

This may not seem like a big deal if you haven't known me for very long but since I was a young child, I was bred to be "perfect" or at least above average.  I was isolated and placed in classes for the "gifted and talented". I rode a "special" short bus to go on numerous field trips and I was strategically taught subjects earlier than other students to help me get even further ahead.  I went to a performing arts governor's school where I majored in Musical Theatre and did so well that I entered college with 24 credits. I don't say all this to brag. I honestly thought I was immune to major mistakes since I didn't suffer any major consequences until my senior year.  

The easiest way to slip into debt is to think that you're above it. Pride and ego are the root cause of so many major issues because it blinds you from stumbling blocks that are right in front of you. The smartest person in the world can have the worst sense of money management.  Debt doesn't discriminate, it can affect us all.

SENIOR YEAR I MADE A CHOICE THAT ALTERED MY LIFE FOREVER. I BECAME PARTNERS IN A SMALL BUSINESS AND QUIT MY JOB.

After my husband and I launched our company Life Focus Pictures we ventured into unknown territory.  Real life decisions that had major consequences but ultimately our passion for being our own boss kept us afloat. 

Oh 2012.  Back when I thought a vinyl banner could double as a table cloth lol.  This was right after we got engaged about 6 months into our business.

Oh 2012.  Back when I thought a vinyl banner could double as a table cloth lol.  This was right after we got engaged about 6 months into our business.

ENTER THE DREADED SAM'S CARD.

As filmmakers we found ourselves going to Sam's Club often for crafty and props.  So it was a natural progression to eventually "upgrade" and get a Sam's Credit Card.  Trust me when I say this...there is only one right way to use a Sam's Credit Card without getting crushed under the weight of the extreme interest rates.

THE WRONG WAY

Use it each time you visit Sam's to stack up reward points and pay the minimum balance, keeping track of when those pesky Black Friday promotions expire hoping you'll have the money by the time they come due.

THE RIGHT WAY

Pay off the card immediately after shopping IN YOUR CAR.  This is important because the minute you leave Sam's you will forget about that store credit card and you will lose the will to pay off the balance in full. 

If they have a promotion, budget monthly payments for that incredible 0% interest deal and treat it like a guaranteed monthly bill.  If you don't, the offer will expire, the back interest will knock you senseless and you'll be forced to make HUGE payments just to get your head above water.

Trust me, I speak from personal experience.  After the promotion expired and I realized the $500/month payment was basically making a $125 dent in the principal, something had to give.  On March 1st, 2017 I set the goal to pay off that stupid Sam's Card in 90 days.   On June 7th, my stomach dropped as I made the single largest online payment of my entire life.  I'll admit it felt awful BUT a couple weeks later I felt amazing when I didn't have an automatic draft from Sam's Club and I hope I never do again.

First Payoff - Sam's Club.JPG

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND YOURSELF CRIPPLED BY DEBT PAYMENTS:

  • Get serious about a monthly budget that includes required monthly giving ON TOP OF TITHES if you're a Jesus loving person like myself. For me that looks like 20% of our paycheck gone off the top.  You have to prioritize saving.
  • Slim down your budget as much as you can.  ALWAYS call your cell phone provider to see if you can negotiate a lower plan as part of the slimming process.
  • Figure out if your true motivator is slaying debt or making money.  They are not the same thing.  If you find it more fulfilling to pay off debt than make more money like me, focus on that.  You'll pay off more in the long run.  That mindset shift changed everything for me.  Instead of putting this giant weight on my shoulders to perform and make more money, I was able to focus on self control and critical thinking with the money I already had. 

My biggest tip for you hands down is become an entrepreneur.  Even if it's a side hustle at night or on the weekends, you will need to take on extra work to make a serious dent like we did. Without my businesses, I would have NEVER been able to spare $10k in 3 months working a 9 to 5.  I won't leave you hanging.  I'll teach you the ways of multiple streams of income but this is where you've got to start.  Accepting the fact that your job alone may not do the trick quick enough.  The secret to debt freedom is move like the wind.  Outrun the interest monster and freedom will soon be on its way. There's no ceiling when you're your own boss.  That's the blessing and you can certainly use that to your advantage if you understand how.

That's what my blog is for ;)  Stay tuned for more :)

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I Spent Two Weeks With a Witch

I remember as a kid being told that I couldn't watch or read Harry Potter because of the witchcraft.  It's incredible the things that triggered Christians after Y2K lol.  But now I'm an adult and I have to make decisions for myself.  Not based on what people say I should and shouldn't do. Sometimes not even based on how I feel because my feelings can lead me astray.  You have to keep going back to the Bible and use that to order your steps.

My last "beat" in Heart Tribes, a part of the Facebook community PeriGirls, I was partnered up with a witch.  A tarot card reading witch.  I remember loading her information into the Heart Tribes website and being struck by the name of her business, Modern Witchy Woman. Now I am not uptight but typically I don't go running to scenarios that are outside of my wheelhouse.  How was I suppose to lead a witch?  What was I supposed to say?  How would I deal with watching tarot card reading every day? Would she be offended if I said God's name? What to do?  What to do? What to do?

Naturally I thought to myself "What would my mother say?  What would Grandma say?".  I heard Liberty in the background saying "This is perfect opportunity to save a soul" but in my heart of hearts I didn't want to do anything.  I didn't want to evangelize or criticize...I literally didn't want to do a single thing.  I've got to be honest, initially I felt the sting of "Christian guilt" for my apathy toward evangelism but then I realized something monumental.

When you stop viewing people as charity cases or potential "souls for you to save" and look at them as people loved by God, needing love from you...the act of doing "nothing" becomes one of the most active responses you could humanly muster.

It's easy to love someone who looks like you, acts like you and believes what do you do.  It's harder to look beyond the things that baffle your mind and extend love but that's what we're called to do.  How ridiculous would your life be if you spent your days actively pushing people away in need of God's love because you disagree with their life choices?  Do you agree with everything your spouse does or how about your best friend or your mother? Chances are your family doesn't meet your standards 100% of the time but that's life. We are all beautiful basket cases saved by grace.  When you condemn others, there's no room for love and there's no room for gratitude. In spite of being drenched in sin, God showers love on us unconditionally.  Grateful hearts who have received love should always default to love others.

I gained a friend and better yet I gained new found perspective. I don't believe that God is calling us to whitewash the world and turn them into Christian carbon copies.  I believe He created us uniquely different for a purpose and He is glorified in our celebration of those differences.  Give people a chance share a little piece of themselves before you leap to conclusions.  As believers we should always leap to love and trust God take care of the rest.

Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.
— Mark 12:31

How to Deal With Closed Doors

Let me start this blog post by saying I’ve sent a lot of time thinking about this subject.  What do you do when doors close?  What is the appropriate Christian response.  I am by no means a scholar but this is what God laid on my heart when I took time to wind down this Wednesday 

What is a closed door?  

So often we hear people say “If God closes one door he’ll open another” or the lesser known one “If God closes a door he’ll open a window”.  To begin with we make life miserable by saying this phrase.  I believe the reason this phrase doesn’t immediately lift our spirits is because it makes less of God.  It makes it seem like it’s God’s responsibility to provide for your happiness; that you ultimately know what’s best for you.  No one knows how to use an invention better than the creator.  Don’t try to diagnose the closed and open doors in your life, simply trust God in all things.  He made the doors, he’ll make a way.

What are the perks to closed doors?  

Who the heck can walk through every open doorway that crosses your path?  How idiotic would it be if you lived life walking through every doorway you could just because it was open?  Why do we feel like God owes us a life of open doors.  Closed doors provide clarity if you are willing to acknowledge them for what they really are…an opportunity for God to show how actively he’s involved in your life.  Closed doors do not mean that God has forsaken you or denied you something that was meant for you.  Closed doors sanctify Christians.  Sanctification is denying you something you think you want or need in exchange for something better, Christ.  Don’t try to pry open closed doors.

God is the God of all doors.  

Doors in your life whether open or closed ultimately serve as an opportunity to reflect the glory of God.  God is glorified in his creation.  Trust that no matter where your life is headed, if you put your faith and trust in God, God is glorified.  You are doing exactly what you were created to do.  Closed doors and all 

Don’t Ask Me When Am I Having Kids. Here’s Why.

When did it become so acceptable to pry into people’s private lives?  I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked, “So…when are you having kids”.  Each time I get more and more uncomfortable and at this point I feel like it’s my duty to educate on why you shouldn’t ask couples when they are having kids.

They have been trying to no avail.

What a blow to someone’s self confidence.  What a heartbreaking thing to be brought up just because you’re curious.  I have not personally experienced this but I know women who have.  Every time a friend of theirs gets pregnant they are reminded of what their heart desires but their body can’t fulfill.  The last thing they need is you bringing that up.

They just suffered through a miscarriage.

Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.  That could be anywhere between every 1 out of 10 or 1 of 4 women you meet.  Miscarriage is an awful reality of childbearing and can be extremely painful both physically and mentally for a woman.  And most women don’t broadcast it.  So you have no idea what’s happened behind closed doors.  So without even realizing it your question could easily turn from sheer curiosity to insensitive in a moments notice.

That’s a subject of contention in their marriage.

What if the wife wants children but the husband does not?  I know lots of couples who choose to stay together in spite of their differences about children so asking the question could potentially bring up a lot of buried emotions.

They don’t like/want kids.

You ask the question because you view children as a gift from God and they can’t stand them.  There are plenty of normal functioning adults who just don’t get along well with kids.  It is a special skill.  Asking them is a quick way to make them feel guilty about their decision when in reality a person who doesn’t like kids would make the worst parent ever.

They do want to have kids…someday.

Perhaps they simply want to be prepared, financially stable or at least more stable than they are now before they have kids.  They have discussed as a couple the timing that seems right for them and feel satisfied with it.  Your question could cause them to feel guilt that they want to wait and could potentially cause issues in their marriage over your simple question.

To put it simply, this question is none of your business.

I don’t say this to be harsh, I just say this to communicate that although we live in a world where the internet allows people a bird’s eye view into our lives, there are some topics that are off limits…or should be.  We need to be more respectful of people’s privacy and leave that question off the table.  Although the world looks at my husband and I and tells us that we have a duty to create people who look like us, we plan to adopt/mentor kids one day.  Didn’t Christ adopt us?

To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:5-7

There are plenty of children who already exist without loving parents and our hearts desire to is share of love of Christ with them and call them our own.  So technically I’m not “having kids” and no nothing’s wrong with me.  I will follow the Lord’s lead and when he says go I’ll go.  And that my friend is the end of that :)

My Degree Was a Waste…Both of Them

Both my undergraduate degrees were in theatre and guess what I’m doing now?  Not theatre.  You could say that it’s like I purchased a $25,000 car and kept it parked in the garage.  You could even say that I am entitled to buyer’s remorse but am I bitter…no.  Do I believe my degrees were an utter waste of time…absolutely not. Or should I say, I don’t think that anymore. In all honesty my peace about the stacks of student loan debt I have and the two pieces of paper I have to show for it came directly from God.  All my life I had been training to be a Broadway actress.  That was my goal but the important thing to remember this goal wasn’t even remotely rooted in reality.  I came up with this life plan when I was 7 years old and thought that Broadway was a theater in NYC not a street.  I took the classes, went to an arts school and majored in theatre in college but during my senior year I made a decision that changed my life forever.  I decided to say yes to my husband and no the pursuit of a Broadway career.  I traded spots.  Instead of preparing monologues for casting calls, I would be the person on the other side of the table.  I WISH I could say that when my life went from stage to film I was so excited about it.  I WASN’T.  Well not initially.  I was bitter.  I was resentful. I was embarrassed.  God why did you give me gifts, encourage me to go to school, pay $25,000 for two pieces of paper just to start a business with my husband?  I don’t need a degree to that!  I thought I was “called” to theatre so how was I supposed to be carrying out God’s will without theatre.  Our youth pastor Bryan Rigg described this situation so perfectly last Sunday.  You live life looking at God like a master archer.  You’ve got your target in view and God pulls back on the arrow and it flies right over your target.  You feel like God missed the mark.  But what you don’t realize is 500 feet away God’s actually hit the bull’s eye.  It’s not our job to determine what our calling is.  God designed us all for a specific purpose and who are we to tell him he got it wrong.  Our job is to serve him knowing that EVERYTHING, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING happens just as God willed it happen.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Our God doesn’t flounder and he doesn’t make mistakes.  Your degree.  Your debt. That’s in God’s will for you.  Here I am almost 3 years later after my husband started our business and I can honestly say…this makes WAY MORE SENSE THAN BROADWAY.  I’m actually introverted.  People drain me.  How on Earth did I think moving to a crowded city was a good idea?  I also love the mountains and open spaces.  I love my church and I don’t like traffic.  I am just where God wants me and it feels good.  There is no need to be embarrassed, bitter or resentful because I came out of college a strong woman of God and I know that was no mistake.  And I trust that the Lord will continue to sanctify me while I muddle through the process of paying off this debt.  Be Free.

 

Beautiful Words from Saint Theresa (thanks Terry Bodine for pointing this out)

 

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you

are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite

possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received,

and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones,

and allow your soul the freedom to sing,

dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.