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A team effort to success

A team effort to success

The key to a thriving Club is offering a welcoming environment, exciting outings, a variety of activities and interesting guest speakers. Despite the challenges of the pandemic a number of Clubs have succeeded in actively recruiting new members into their club and maintaining a healthy Club membership. This was accomplished by hard work, dedication and members thinking outside the box and introducing new activities and outings.

We share the stories of three Clubs who managed to not only maintain their membership but grow to over 100 members. We encourage all Club members to get involved in their Club’s success.

Our Growth Story during

COVID -19 - Taylors Lakes Probus Club

Our Club was formed in November 2013. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, we had grown progressively to 97 members. Post-COVID, we celebrated our eighth anniversary in November 2021 with 128 members and reached our Club membership limit of 130 members the following month. How was this achieved during the longest COVID lockdown in the world? Throughout the pandemic, we maintained the Probus mantra of Fun, Friendship and Fellowship. We continued to maintain contact and reach out to all members during the lockdown and met whenever there was an easing of restrictions while following all the COVID requirements. Our Club Foundation member, IT provider and current life member Chris upgraded our website and set up ZOOM access to enable the continuation of monthly Committee and General meetings. This was also used as a social platform for all members. There were guest speakers, games of bingo, trivia and then general chats between members. A weekly ZOOM coffee catch-up was established and members could stay and chat for as long as they wished. During ZOOM meetings lucky attendees won a prize which was then collected in the open observing social distancing in a local car park. Newsletters continued to be produced and these were delivered to those in retirement villages and to those without internet/email. For IT-challenged members having difficulty navigating the ZOOM program, a committee member or general member would keep in contact by phone to check on their health and well-being as well as leave the newsletters and Probus magazines on their front porch, so they never felt left out of the loop. Often, they would still chat from their front porch, both keeping socially distanced and wearing masks. We maintained a Melbourne Cup Sweep for all members on ZOOM. When able, Committee and General meetings were conducted in the open at Brimbank Park and outdoor walking groups also resumed. Throughout the COVID period, existing members continued to renew their membership and we grew to 130 members through word of mouth, members’ personal contacts and the inactivity of neighbouring Clubs during lockdown. The care shown by the Management Committee members and the Club members is a great example of the empathy and strength of the Club towards its members. This has been repeated many times, when members have been injured, unwell or passed, it is a credit to all and one of the reasons for our increased membership. A well-run organisation will always attract people and our Club has maintained strong numbers on the Committee, comprising members who were willing to work hard and deliver an excellent product/ service to the Club. Year on year, we have continued to innovate with new services to members and introduce new methods to deliver to each member. Clubs that continue to evolve and grow will also attract people who want to be part of this development. The range of events, the friendliness and fun that we show has given us a reputation, hence we retain and attract membership. Above all the Probus principles of Fun, Friendship and Fellowship have been endorsed. Communication, making meetings fun, activities varied and plentiful and genuine concern for the welfare of fellow members have been the keys to our success.

How we grew our Club -

Thirroul Probus Club

Unbeknown to a group of local residents attending the Inaugural meeting of the Thirroul Probus Club on 11th November 2019, there was a virus starting to spread in Wuhan, China. This coronavirus has changed our lives now and for the years ahead. This new group of people were only able to meet for five meetings before the Australian National Cabinet declared an emergency. Social distancing rules were introduced on 21st March 2020 and non-essential services including social gathering venues such as Clubs were shut down. So, what were we to do to keep this new Club active and viable until we could meet once again? For the next eight months, we continued to stay in touch with the 110 members. Some of the things we did to keep our members engaged were to continue to send out the monthly newsletter by email and hand deliver it to a few members who did not have email access. This let our members know that we were all in this together. To put as many pictures as possible into the newsletter, we created a section called “Out and About in Thirroul”. Members were encouraged to take photos of other members they met while out and about exercising and shopping etc. The newsletter also contained articles about our local library that was able to post books to library members. Whilst restrictions were in place we promoted “Taste of Thirroul - Taking it Home”. We suggested to members they include a takeaway to the weekly meal plan and send in a review for publication. Members kept in touch by phoning each other and checking on the welfare of others in the Club, and our Club also established the Thirroul Probus website and a Thirroul Probus Facebook page to stay connected. Once we were allowed to meet in varying numbers again we created and encouraged members to attend our small group dinners with 6-8 members at local restaurants. We kept it local because members couldn’t travel and to support table service restaurants who were doing it tough. This has proven to be very popular and continues. For the members who did not like to go out at night, we started monthly Buzzer lunches at local Clubs. Now that we are more out and about and living with COVID, many members are travelling, so we have started a “Wish You Were Here” section in the newsletter where members send in holiday snaps, with their names and location. Thirroul Probus Club is very fortunate to have our monthly

meeting place at a popular local licensed Club where we can utilise their full facilities at no cost. This assists in keeping members unified. After COVID restrictions were eased we moved very quickly to invite all members back to our Club for three consecutive Monday luncheons. This enabled members to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. In addition, our Clubs Caravan and Camping Group have proved to be popular amongst members. Bookings are made at Caravan Parks with cabins thus catering for members without vans. Some other important factors that have assisted us in growing our Club:

• Very cohesive Executive Committee

• Active Group Coordinators

• Keeping members fully informed of all Club activities

• Maintain interesting and inclusive programs

• Utilise Club’s surplus funds to subsidise excursions/outings where possible

• Invite community members/friends to Club social activities when appropriate. (e.g Probus Day) so they can experience Probus’s friendship and fellowship in action.

At our 1st Annual General Meeting, we inducted 32 new members who had signed up during COVID restrictions and lockdowns. We currently have 115 members and thankfully our Club has come through COVID in good health.

Our Club’s success story -

Armadale Probus Club

A combination of good luck, good management and an enthusiastic, friendly group ensured the establishment and growth of Armadale Probus Club during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a surprising story behind the successful launch of Armadale Probus by Malvern Rotary – the sponsor of the Armadale Probus Club. With the support of PSPL, a letterbox drop was conducted where 6,000 flyers were distributed within the local area in January 2020. After the letterbox drop, an interest meeting was held on 7th February 2020, and the Armadale Probus Club was formed when 90 people attended the meeting to determine any interest in forming a Probus Club in Armadale. Two key players in the formation of the Armadale Probus Club were John, PSPL Ambassador and Bruce OAM, Past President of Keilor East Probus Club and past PSPL Director and Treasurer on the Board. Bruce conducted the meeting with such enthusiasm, skill, and recognition that the numbers present at the meeting of interest indicated that a Probus Club was viable. Bruce managed to identify from those present suitable people to form a Management Committee and we were on our way! The success of the Club has been a team effort. The Foundation President Noel, Secretary Gerda and Treasurer Alan invited and coopted other members to be officers and strengthen the team! Our Management Committee includes the officers and decisions are very much a team effort! The PSPL Handbook was an excellent guide for those of us new to Probus. We treated it as a guide rather than a rigid document and remain grateful for its information. We were faced with many challenges due to repeated lockdowns and we understood the need for good, regular communication and safe activities to keep members connected. President Noel set up and helped members access Zoom for the monthly meetings with guest speakers happy to present online. Our newsletter officer and data manager, Trish, has been instrumental in maintaining regular contact with wonderful newsletters including a calendar of events and contributions from members. Our activities officer, Norma managed to arrange online ‘happy hours’ with a theme that provided great fun and friendship for members during lockdown. Walking groups in various areas on different days of the week were formed. For safety, we walked in pairs, separated by safe distance and wearing masks when mandated. We understood the need for outdoor exercise for our physical health. Sue established a book club that met online when contact was restricted. Between lockdowns, we enjoyed outings, dinners, luncheons, and a weekly coffee club morning. We also acknowledge and thank our local Stonnington Council who has provided grants for use of a hall for our meetings and a cash grant to assist us to establish and maintain contact with older people in Stonnington. They appreciate, as we do, the importance of social connections and interesting activities to maintain good mental and physical health. We stress the importance of maintaining good communication with our local Stonnington Council and we have assisted them in distributing their newsletters and attending their functions as we share a common concern for acknowledging the importance of our older residents. We are also aware that ‘networking’ with other local Probus and social Clubs is important, and we have attracted new members with this cooperative, friendly approach. Our challenge now as we look ahead is to identify opportunities for ‘fun and friendship’ while encouraging active participation of our members in running the Club and contributing in any small way to ensure that they are valued and appreciated. Our success and growth has been a team effort by a committed group of friendly, welcoming members keen to participate and contribute to a vibrant Probus Club.