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Family Reunion Forum

Re: Family Reunion Scholarships

I guess I'd have to say that we build reunion attendance in a number of ways, Mel.

First, I may have mentioned that we are largely located in three areas: Key West, Bahamas and Miami area. Each area has sort of an unofficial coordinator (or more than one) who builds excitement and spreads the word about the reunion. That effort trickles out to family members who reside in other areas of the country and globe. Each area handles this differently. In Key West, we have a group of Allens who meet every 4 to 6 weeks for brunch. We make plans as a committee and discuss local family issues and projects and generally work to strengthen family ties and build a sense of unity. Those members generally reach out to those Allens who don't attend the meetings, sharing information and encouraging participation.

Secondly, we use available tools to "brand" ourselves as one of the largest Afro-Caribbean families in existance. We get fantastic regional media coverage since a large family reunion makes for a great human interest story. It's free publicity, and it's a big help. Plus, we have a couple of high-profile family members who are proud of their heritage and make it a point to participate in the reunion. They serve as magnets, attracting others.

Third, we use newsletters, monthly family e-mail blitzes, our website, family projects and other tools in off-years to keep the family and our reunions on everyone's mind. There are a little more than 300 names on our newsletter mailing list. The Key West family pays for the newsletter as a donation.

That's not to say that we have universal acceptance and attendance at our reunions, though. There are entire branches of the family who seem to have made a conscious decision not to participate. Our attitude is 'hey, that's fine, you don't know what you're missing and you're certainly more than welcome if you change your mind.' We keep inviting them and make sure they're in the loop, but don't allow their absence to hinder us. It's easy to be offended by their refusal to participate, but whenever it comes up at a meeting, I try to steer the conversation to something positive.

Anyway, that's probably way more than you wanted to know, Mel. In short, I guess I'd suggest really getting the word out to your members and using your down time to engage them so that they identify themselves with the family. Also, there may be family feuds standing in the way of participation, so you may need to deal with that. We handle it by insisting that hard feelings get left at the door. Also, you may want to ask family members what kinds of events they want to participate in at the reunion. Greater participation in the planning phase might lead to greater attendance.

Hope that helps!

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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