All posts by Angela Labrecque

American Amtrykes…

Can it be True?!

From the Executive Director….

Is it true we’re going to be working with an American manufacturer to supply our Amtrykes?

Yes! This exciting news was announced during Saturday’s General Session at the 2018 AMBUCS National Conference in Reno. Just prior to our conference, the National AMBUCS Board of Directors unanimously approved entering an agreement with Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) to become our manufacturer and supplier for Amtrykes and related accessories.

What information did the Board of Directors use in making this decision?

The decision by the Board was made after receiving a recommendation from the Amtryke Advisory Board, which had previously received the full endorsement of the Amtryke Production Review Team. This ad hoc group was comprised of a dozen committed Ambucs (Physical and Occupational Therapists, Advisory Board Members, National AMBUCS Board Members, Amtryke Master Mechanics and ARC Administrative Staff) who spent several months representing our organization in meetings and discussions with BCA.

The process included multiple visits to the factory in Manning, SC (Just a 3 ½ hour drive from the AMBUCS Resource Center in High Point, NC!) and a thorough review of six Amtryke prototypes created by the BCA team. We had the opportunity to test prototypes of AM-10, 1410 and 1412 models. BCA fabricated two versions of each model – one aluminum and one steel.


In addition, BCA representatives spent an entire day at the AMBUCS Resource Center (ARC), observing actual Amtryke evaluations and fittings conducted by an Amtryke Evaluation and Fitting for Therapists (AEFT) certified therapist.

Below is a list of people who served on this landmark review team. If you would like to reach out to any of them, they would be happy to share their impressions of BCA.

Kent Clingenpeel – Past National President and Current Amtryke Advisory Board Chair
Kevin Sheehan – 2017-2018 AMBUCS National President
Eric Oschwald – 2017-2018 Immediate Past AMBUCS National President
Sue Haywood – “Amtryke Mama” and Southwest Region Director
Fred Sammons – Voted “One of the 100 Most Influential Figures in Occupational Therapy”
Al Bedell – Past National President and Amtryke Master Mechanic
Aimee Carter – Past AMBUCS Therapist of the Year
Al Lemieux – Black Hatter and Amtryke Master Mechanic
Ashley Schilling – Amtryke Evaluation and Fitting for Therapists (AEFT) Coordinator and Trainer
Kyle Schilling – Engineer and Amtryke Master Mechanic
Jessica Wall – Director of Development and Programs and Amtryke “Jill of all Trades”
Jay Laurens – Executive Director

Exactly who is Bicycle Corporation of America?

Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) is a subsidiary of Kent International, which is headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey.  This 4th generation family bicycle company, started in 1906 as small bicycle shop in Manhattan.

In the 1990’s, almost all American bicycle manufacturers moved their operations overseas or shut down completely. At that time, Kent International moved its operations to China, but in 2013 made a commitment to move part of the operation back to the U.S. Shortly thereafter, the BCA factory opened in Manning, SC They are currently producing more than half the bikes that are made in the United States and sold here.

Arnold Kamler, Chairman and CEO of BCA and Kent International, was able to attend our Amtryke giveaway at National Conference. During the President’s Dinner at National Conference, newly elected National President Randy Cloud paid Arnold’s dues, making him an “official” AMBUCS member.

 

Arnold had this to say about the BCA/AMBUCS
partnership: “It’s a life-changing moment when a child or adult starts to pedal away on an Amtryke – possibly for the first time ever –  gaining mobility, independence and self-respect. We’ve now witnessed this deeply emotional experience in person.  Our entire team – in New Jersey and South Carolina – is dedicated to helping end your supply issues and working towards constant improvement and adaptability of Amtrykes. To put it in poker terms… “WE’RE ALL IN!”

To view a CBS News video about BCA and make a “virtual visit” to the factory in Manning, SC, just click on this video link. The information is slightly dated. The SC factory is now producing an average of 1,200 bikes per day – ranging from bikes that retail for less than $100 to $5,000 specialized carbon fiber bikes – and running two full production shifts with close to 170 employees.

Does this mean our Amtrykes will now carry the “Made in USA” label?

Good question. Not yet. Initially our BCA Amtrykes will bear the label “Assembled in USA with Domestic and Foreign Parts.” This is due to the fact that some tryke components will be manufactured in other countries. BCA’s ultimate goal, however, is for all Amtryke components to be manufactured in the United States and for our trykes to proudly display the “Made in USA” seal.

Will the new BCA Amtrykes be available immediately?

No. Patience will be required during this transition. It will take time to phase in an entire new fleet of BCA Amtrykes. We will continue to order from Gomier – our current manufacturer in Taiwan – for the next 12-18 months, while gradually introducing new BCA Amtrykes to our line-up. Before any new model goes to production, a working prototype will have to be designed, fabricated, and thoroughly reviewed and tested.

Are Amtrykes going to be more expensive?

No. We have been assured by Arnold Kamler (Chairman and CEO) that BCA will match or beat current Gomier prices.

Will Amtryke models or designs change? If so, how?

Most definitely. Just some of the changes currently being explored by BCA’s design team – working closely with key AMBUCS/Amtryke staff and volunteers – are lighter frames and accessories, simplified tryke assembly, increased adaptability, as well as standardization of parts and accessories. We’ll have more specifics to report as each new model is released.

Will we be able to get Amtrykes faster?

Unfortunately, you won’t see much of a change over the next few months, as we continue to order the majority of our trykes from Taiwan. Some challenges and delays are inherent to that process.

However, over the next year to 18 months, you should begin to see tangible evidence of increased efficiency in the processing of orders and delivery of trykes. In the very near future, many of the logistical challenges we now face will be “in the rearview mirror.”

We are so excited to say that after the transition we will be a vastly more nimble and efficient partner in helping you inspire mobility and independence.

Is our agreement with BCA in writing, or is it a “handshake” agreement like we’ve had with Gomier in Taiwan?

You will find a copy of the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which defines our working relationship with BCA, delineates each party’s responsibilities and protects our interests going forward, here.

These are exciting times for our organization! Still, we ask for your continued patience during this monumental transition.

Shoulders Together,

 

Jay Laurens
Executive Director

 

1st Quarter Scorecard

First Quarter Scorecard

The quarterly Scorecard Report chronicles the goals achieved by each AMBUCS chapter. The points tallied in the report are gathered from the chapters via the Chapter Scorecard 1st Quarter (due Sept 10), Chapter Scorecard 2nd Quarter (due Dec 10), Chapter Scorecard 3rd Quarter (due March 10), and Chapter Scorecard 4th Quarter (due June 10) Forms. This is an entirely voluntary program. You can access the scorecard forms via the Forms page.

Using the Scorecard forms for yearly and quarterly planning helps keep a chapter on track for success. It also recognizes chapters who have gone above and beyond to achieve the highest levels of success.

The National President awards citations for Merit, Honor, and Superior Chapters at the National Conference each year. Each chapter scoring 350 points for the year earns Merit Chapter status and a banner medallion; 450 points earns Honor Chapter status and a banner medallion; and 550 points earns Superior Chapter status, a banner medallion and a watch for the Chapter President. A chapter can earn with Distinction status by also chartering a new chapter during the year.

AMBUCS Moves to Reject Labels

Just to the right you will see the new National AMBUCS tagline and mission statement unanimously approved by the National AMBUCS Board of Directors at the National Conference in Reno, NV, under the leadership of Past National President, Kevin Sheehan.

That’s right, as you will notice we have removed ‘disabilities’ from our tagline and mission statement.

Words matter. Sometimes we forget their power – for good or for ill. But if you’ve ever been a child on a playground, and I know you have, you know that power.

Our crisis of words is hardly a new one for an organization that serves those challenged with mobility and independence.

The AMBUCS Resource Center has a wall of bookcases full of memorabilia from our near-century of existence. A quick survey reveals frequent use of “handicapped” and “crippled.” We would never use either word today, but when the pieces were produced the words were perfectly acceptable.

Over the past few years, we began to get similar feedback from therapists, parents and other members of the community. The word “disabled” had started to become stigmatized…like every label before it.

The community has begun advocating for itself and one another as human beings, reframing descriptive words or rejecting labels altogether. This choice is highly personal, however, and a label that one person finds acceptable may be deeply offensive to someone else.

I think it is safe to say that every AMBUCS member has been touched down to their metaphorical toes by those we serve. While the word “special” has also become stigmatized, it is so true in its original context. The people we serve are all wildly different (like any group of humans), but it seems to me that conquering extreme daily challenges tends to create a type of person I admire very much. They are often determined, game, humble, kind and open.

The VERY last thing any of us would want to do is place a hurtful label on one of our friends.

The National Board and staff wondered if the word “create” was also a bit disempowering – making it seem like all the magic comes from our members and not from the determination of those who round the bases, travel ramps, power trykes or provide therapy.

So, what does National AMBUCS do with its proud mission to Create Mobility and Independence for People with Disabilities?

The AMBUCS National Board decided that no label should be placed on the population we serve and that we, as members, “inspire” more than “create.”

As previously mentioned, the National Board unanimously approved the new tagline: Inspiring Mobility & Independence.

The new easy-to-remember tagline comes with a more robust mission statement:

Inspiring people to conquer challenges related to mobility and independence, through a nationwide network of volunteer chapters, working in partnership with physical, occupational and speech therapists; by providing Amtryke adaptive trykes, scholarships for therapists and many forms of community service.

Neither change was an easy or quick decision. The National Board began actively discussing the matter in April, after they unanimously approved a similar change to the Amtryke tagline and logo suggested by the Amtryke Advisory Board in February. The new Amtryke tagline is “Adaptive Trykes for Amazing people!”

The announcement of the changes was made at the Thursday General Session at National Conference, before our keynote speaker, Shana Anderson, took the stage.

Shana spoke about her experience as mother to Reeve, who faces challenges related to Down syndrome, and about advocating for those with chromosomal disorders through a venture called Reeve’s Tees. She recounted her experience with two amazing AMBUCS chapters; one gave Reeve an Amtryke (Greenebucs) and one invited him to participate in a triathlon (Miamibucs). Shana’s piercingly open account of her experiences and her clearly genuine gratitude to our organization and others like us, captured every heart in the room.

Later, when discussing the new tagline and mission statement, Shana said, “Small language changes matter A LOT.  The change that AMBUCS made to its mission statement (dropping the ‘people with disabilities’ and focusing on what is possible) was very symbolic to me.  The point of AMBUCS is to give individuals the power to overcome challenges and NOT be a person with disabilities or limitations.  When my son is on his tryke – for that moment, he is just one of the kids, he is not ‘a kid with disabilities.’  When I see the hearts, hands and hours that go into AMBUCS each day to make mobility and independence possible for so many, I’d say that you nailed it with this new tagline and mission statement!”

We hope other people we serve have a similar overwhelmingly positive response to the change. And that you, like Shana’s audience, feel like rising to your feet and giving her statement a standing ovation.

However, we understand that the new tagline and mission statement create some hurdles for our chapters and members.

  • You will find updated AMBUCS and Amtryke logos here. You do not need to reproduce existing materials. We just ask that when it is time to replace them you use the new logos. We will be doing the same at the Resource Center.
  • It may take some time to internalize that longer mission statement. You probably already have the tagline memorized so you can start using that immediately. To begin with, you could probably easily paraphrase the mission statement since it encapsulates the organization you know so well!
  • Lastly, you are not alone if you are wondering how to talk about AMBUCS without using “disabilities” or another label to describe the population we serve. It will probably be a slow burn. We suggest you think in terms of challenges faced and overcome rather than labels, as I have tried to do in this document. “People who face challenges” or “…challenges related to…” Or simply let mobility and independence stand alone. Our ear is trained to listen for the “for” but I think you will find most people will understand intuitively that we inspire mobility and independence…for people who are challenged with those issues.

I hope you are as proud as I am of this new AMBUCS era. Maybe this change will serve as an example to other organizations and we will find in years to come that we were at the forefront of an important movement to remove labels and celebrate not only the human dignity but also the uncommonly amazing qualities of those we serve.

Today, my friend, is a GREAT DAY to be an Ambuc!

Sincerely,

 

 

Randy Cloud
AMBUCS National President

2019 Amtryke Catalogue

The 2019 Amtryke Catalogue: Digital preview is now available online. See page 23 for a quick snapshot of what’s new!

We will print in time for the new year. An announcement will be made here and on facebook when the print version is available.

If you need a hard copy, the 2018 Amtryke catalogues are still available for just the actual cost of shipping. To order, contact Roxanne 800-838-1845 x116 or roxannen@ambucs.org.

See our full line up of Adaptive Tricycles for people from age 2 to 102! With our fleet of 15 trykes and hundreds of accessories – nearly everyone can be a successful rider. Our trykes can be powered by the feet, the hands or both feet and hands together – depending on the rider’s ability and therapeutic goals.

ProCert Achieved!

We are so excited to announce that our Amtryke Evaluation and Fitting Training (AEFT) for Therapists course has been approved by ProCert.

The Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) developed ProCert as a comprehensive continuing competence activity certification program, as directed by the 53 U.S. physical therapy licensing boards. FSBPT uses the Standards for Continuing Competence Activities to evaluate the content of continuing competence activities for purposes of awarding CCU to physical therapists.

At the time of this writing, 34 states accept ProCert. Which means if a PT who lives in Delaware takes AEFT in Arizona, Delaware will recognize the CCU as valid. As long as your state is listed and you are a licensed physical therapist, the CCU are certified. FSBPT is actively working with states not already on their list and we hope one day soon that it will truly be a nationwide program.

If we hold AEFT in a state not covered by ProCert we will seek certification from that state’s PT Board and, of course, we will seek certification from the Occupational Therapy Board for the state where the training is held.

Please visit this page for more information about AEFT! We have already completed one course that has been retroactively approved and have another scheduled for January in Lexington, KY.

Thank you Ashley Schilling, PT – Music City Trykes President and Amtryke Therapist Training Coordinator – for taking on the immense amount work, research, follow up, coordination and general logistical heartburn this project has caused! ProCert Achieved. 🙂

Thanks, so much, to all our fabulous ProCert-certified AEFT Trainers too! Sue Haywood (PT), Ashley Schilling (PT), Aaron Stevens (OT), Kristina Bouley (OT), Marie MacLeod (PT), Christine Lysaght (PT), Denise Netteberg (PT), Emi Yukawa (PT), Aimee Carter (PT), Tami Forwood-Tubell (PT), Reva Reid (OT) and Joyce Peet (OT).

Blue Chip Logo

1st Quarter Blue Chip

1st Quarter Blue Chip

The quarterly Blue Chip Report chronicles the membership development of each AMBUCS Chapter and of the organization as a whole. The data contained in the report is gathered from the chapters via the Member Additions and Member Deletions Forms.

In order to encourage a sustained level of growth, each chapter is assigned a yearly net member gain goal based on the number of members at start-of-year.

Those chapters that reach their goal at end-of-year become a Blue Chip Chapter and receive recognition at National Conference and a banner patch.  Chapters are ranked by net new members gained and the Top Ten chapters receive recognition at National Conference and a banner patch. Chapters that have achieved Blue Chip status two years in a row are called Double Chip, three years Triple Chip, four years Quad Chip; they will each receive recognition at National Conference and a banner patch.

Gold Wing Touring Assn Partners with AMBUCS

High Point, NC – September 7, 2018 – National AMBUCS is honored to partner with the Gold Wing Touring Association (GWTA), as the administration’s special emphasis, to provide Amtryke therapeutic tricycles for children and Veterans who are unable to safely ride a traditional bicycle.

GWTA is an international not-for-profit social organization owned and operated by its membership. Its motorcycle chapters provide ample opportunities for long and short rides, monthly meetings, state and regional events and the annual Gold Rush rally. GWTA encourages good riding habits, involvement in civic and charitable affairs and the projection of a positive motorcycling image to the general public.

Judith Schaefer, executive director of Gold Wing Touring Association, Inc. said, “It gives me great joy to announce AMBUCS as this administration’s special emphasis. I was introduced to AMBUCS by our Illinois Chapter H and fell in love with the organization and its goals. What a great fit to pair our bikes and trikes with the AMBUCS trykes, a worthwhile charity the GWTA members and chapters can support wholeheartedly.”

The two organizations both have chapters based all over the United States. Gold Wing Touring Assn. invites AMBUCS chapter members to find their nearest Gold Wing Touring Chapter by visiting here and clicking on the state. National AMBUCS invites Gold Wing Touring chapter members to find their nearest AMBUCS chapter by visiting here and typing in the state.

National AMBUCS, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, provides over 3,000 free therapeutic tricycles to children who face barriers to exercise and to the simple fun and freedom of riding a bike every year. AMBUCS believes every kid deserves a bike.

National AMBUCS also provides free adaptive bikes to our nation’s heroes through its Veterans Initiative Program (VIP), a nationwide grassroots movement that offers disabled Veterans rehabilitative, therapeutic and wholelife health opportunities. Over 600 Amtrykes have been gifted to Veterans or VHA facilities in the last seven years. Many Veterans who bravely fought to protect our country now face life changing challenges. AMBUCS believes these Veterans should have every opportunity to engage in the active lifestyle they enjoyed prior to their service.

Amtryke, LLC is a fully-owned subsidiary of AMBUCS. As charity that owns an adaptive bike company, the priority isn’t profit but rather the life-changing impact of the product and program. Surveyed riders (or parents/guardians) consistently report improved fitness and cardiovascular function, an enhanced mental and emotional state, increased pain management and range of motion.

The fifteen Amtryke models serve as a gateway into recreation, fitness, positive peer interaction and fun. The foot, hand or foot and hand-powered trykes along with various adaptations, meet the rider’s unique set of needs, providing myriad solutions for a spectrum of diagnoses.

Jay Laurens, executive director of National AMBUCS said, “Thanks to partners like the Gold Wing Touring Association, the number of riders benefitting from the quality of life changes provided by the Amtryke steadily increase. There’s no greater feeling than helping children ride for the first time and our nation’s heroes return to an active lifestyle.”

Aside from funding assistance, AMBUCS chapters are often also looking for volunteers to help build bikes and to help put on other events, including the best ones of all – bike giveaways!

# # #
Founded in 1922, National AMBUCS, Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization consisting of a diverse group of men and women dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities. That mission is fulfilled by providing Amtryke therapeutic tricycles to individuals who are unable to operate traditional bikes, awarding scholarships
to therapists and performing various other forms of community service. Currently, there are more than 5,000 members in over 158 chapters in more than 35 states.

Printable Press Release

Gold Wing Touring Association contact:
Judith Schaefer, Executive Director
exec.director@gwta.org ● 800-960-4982 (GWTA)

ReCycle Program Extends Chapter Impact

– Beth Smith and Ashley Schilling, Music City Trykes AMBUCS (Nashville, TN)
Beth Smith

What happens to an Amtryke when a child outgrows it? What about when a child has progressed to riding a typical two-wheel bicycle? Or when he or she is simply not riding it anymore?  As any chapter that participates in the Amtyrke program knows, these situations are inevitable. That’s why Music City Trykes, the Middle Tennessee Chapter of National AMBUCS, began “ReCycling.”

Our ReCycle Program is run by a subcommittee of Music City Trykes (MCT) members. The chair of the committee serves as a liaison between community therapists, families and the chapter. The committee helps coordinate volunteers to assist with Amtryke pickup, cleanup, preparation and fitting the next rider.

Upon receiving any Amtryke from MCT, families are provided info on the ReCycle Program, and every tryke receives a commercial grade sticker to remind families to contact MCT when they are done with it. When they are ready, families reach out to the chapter via email, phone, through their therapist, or social media. The committee helps coordinate pickup.

Once the tryke is received, it is evaluated to determine damage, missing parts, and necessary repairs. This assessment, in combination with length of ownership, is used to calculate the depreciated value and the “ReCycle credit.” (We use a formula provided to us by an accountant who deals specifically with equipment depreciation.)

Depreciated Value=InitialValue-[# months of ownership*((Initial Value*.7)/60)]

We then multiply the depreciated value by a percentage factor based on the tryke’s condition to determine the family’s ReCycle credit.  When the credit is determined, families then have the option to raise the difference in the cost of a new Amtryke and the ReCycle credit or to be added to our chapter Wish List for funding support.

We use the ReCycle credit as an incentive to encourage good maintenance and overall care of the trykes. With a consistent 60-70 rider Wish List, it is our hope that an Amtryke that is not ridden (for any reason) is never left to collect dust or rust rather than being put to use!

Once we’ve secured the Amtryke (or scheduled a pick-up), the chapter secretary then determines who is next up on the Wish List in need of that particular frame.  We then confirm the family’s interest in a ReCycle versus waiting for a brand new Amtryke. Next, a list of parts and accessories needed for the next rider is compiled and ordered.

In the interim, the recycled tryke receives a heavy dose of elbow grease to bring back that bright red and chrome shine. Most of the time, the Amtrykes look so good when fully refurbished that people assume they are brand new. In the event that a tryke comes back to us in poor shape, we “scrap it” for usable parts to be put to use by our “fleet” in action and those that are yet to be given out.

When the needed adaptive accessories are added or changed out, and the safety check is complete, a therapist chapter member or therapist volunteer meets up with the family to do a fitting. If one of our large giveaway events is coming up, we will often do the fitting there.

This process has evolved over the years and we have faced some challenges. ReCycled Amtrykes “in waiting” have to be stored somewhere in the transitional period between riders.  For us, that has meant the trunk of a car, a warehouse, a closet, a workplace, and even a chapter member’s kitchen! When families cannot transport a tryke, chapter members have to go pick them up.

Initially, the requests to ReCycle trickled in. However, we now have a steady stream, averaging with 2-4 per month. These calls and emails do not always occur in the weeks before a large giveaway event (which would be the most convenient). What this means is more individual fittings for new riders and lots of logistics gymnastics. This can be a drain on chapter members so we do our best to spread the love and request new volunteers for these duties each month.

The most exciting development within our ReCycle program is yet to come! This summer, we will hold our first ReCycle Roundup! Families and volunteers will be invited to bring pending ReCycles to us at a park or school. If needed, trained therapist evaluators will assess each current rider for his or her new Amtryke while other volunteers assist families with a tryke wash and tune up. The ReCycle committee will then assess the bike and determine needed repairs or guide volunteers for scrapping parts. If the condition of the incoming Amtryke is known to be excellent, and it fits the needs of a child on the Wish List, it will roll right back out that day with a new rider. This will allow our current riders and their families to come full circle and serve as the “next link” in the Amtryke chain. Once the available ReCycles are rounded up, it will be much easier to determine what to order to accessorize the trykes specifically or the next riders at the upcoming large giveaway event.

Since its official start in 2016, the MCT ReCycle Program has brought a refreshened set of wheels to more than 20 children on our Wish List. A handful of our riders are on his or her third Amtryke, and a handful of our Amtrykes have had three different riders! We love telling our sponsors about this program. To us, it means more kids riding with shorter wait times and less funds to be raised. To them, it means their donated dollars go further. In the land of charitable causes, “sustainability” can be a major selling point for potential and return donors.

We know that there are no two identical AMBUCS chapters or Amtryke programs. However, we hope you’ll be able to take a few ideas from this post to start or strengthen your ReCycle program.

Best of luck and shoulders together!

Beth Smith and Ashley Schilling
ReCycle Chair and President
Music City Trykes Chapter of National AMBUCS

Inspiring Young Leaders

-Candace Reim, Enid Noon AMBUCS (OK)

I first became an Ambuc in January 2014. My boss at the time asked a friend of his to take me as a guest. When I walked into the meeting that day I was greeted by several familiar faces from around the community but one thing immediately stood out to me, I was quite a bit younger than most of the members. The meeting proceeded as (what I now know is) normal and then we adjourned. Several members came by and introduced themselves and thanked me for coming before I left. Upon leaving the meeting, I knew that I liked the vibe of this organization but I did not quite understand what they did.

The following week I joined as a member and began to ask the necessary questions: what is the point of this group, what exactly do you do, and if Enid Noon is the  third largest chapter in the nation, why haven’t I heard of you before? I was quickly informed about our mission to provide mobility and the many things our chapter does around the community. I learned that the most likely reason I had not heard of Enid Noon AMBUCS before is because I had not really been involved in the community before, but that was all about to change in a very big way.

Each year our chapter hosts the Tour de Trykes event to raise money for trykes. The year I joined, they were looking for a new event chair to keep the fundraiser going. I could tell by the tone of the conversation that this event was very important if we wished to raise the necessary funds to purchase trykes for local citizens. As with most things in my life, I didn’t think twice about it and volunteered to take over the event. I was nervous that with me being so new, they would decline my offer, but I was welcomed with open arms. This decision could be one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Without much direction, I set off on my journey to plan this event and my life living in Enid would never be the same.

I had just become not only a leader in my chapter, but also a leader in my community in a matter of weeks. Through this journey I was exposed to so many other community organizations as well as community members that I had seen but never been introduced to. I also found that planning this event was also the best way to get to know all the members of our chapter.

My second year in AMBUCS involved being invited to work as a “buddy” for Miracle League. When I showed up at the baseball field at AMBUC park, I was amazed to see a playground and park developed for those with special needs. I had lived in Enid for five years and had no clue this park even existed. I proceeded to be paired with a young man in a wheelchair that was so excited to be playing ball. When I left that day, I was so filled with joy from watching these individuals have so much fun. I returned the next week and have missed very few ever since. The following year I volunteered as a coach and have been doing it for three years now. Nothing makes me happier than watching my team get to play ball and I spread the word of Miracle League every chance I get.

Year three in my adventure with AMBUCS, I was faced with a medical issue that involved swelling on my brain. My chapter rallied behind me and helped me any chance they could. I was allowed to remain a member under associate status and another member stepped up to plan our Tour de Trykes that year. I spent the entire year dealing with my illness and making very few of our weekly meetings. When I was finally feeling well enough to return full time, I was able to walk back into chapter like I never left.

I remember my first meeting back just sitting there wondering why more people did not belong to this organization. I had seen the smiles of the kids as they got on their first tryke. I had seen members rally behind each other to support them through illnesses, lost spouses and loved ones, and even through lost members. I could not wrap my mind around why this chapter wasn’t twice as large.

This thought process led me to the biggest decision of my life. I decided to pursue my doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

Through my studies I have learned that AMBUCS is a servant leadership organization. Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

  • We want to be a better organization
  • We want to enrich each other’s lives
  • We want a more caring world

We ARE a servant leadership organization! Here are a few questions we should consider.

  • How can we appeal to younger professionals and revitalize our aging chapter?
    • Mentorships, partnerships, igniting the passion.
  • How can we grow?
    • Do more than what you have always done or you will only get what you have always gotten.
  • How can we keep people connected?
    • Give them ownership of something: event, sergeant-of-arms, greeter, etc.
    • Identify their passion and plug them back in.
  • How do we put the fun back into our chapter?
    • Ask members what we have done well in the past.
  • How do we remain visible?
    • Find new ways to plug into the community.
    • Serve the community as much as you serve each other.
    • Become the “go-to” organization, it will give the first dibs on new opportunities.
  • So what now?
    • Motivate your chapter, ask for feedback, empower them to come forward with new ideas, be willing to “give up” your role, go back to the basics and remember why you are here!

I became a dedicated Ambuc because I was not afraid to jump right in, but let’s face it, not many people will blindly jump in the same manner. So, we are left with trying to find a way to get new members involved and help them find their role in AMBUCS. We all have different passions. We all enjoy specific fundraisers and activities that take part in chapter. It is our responsibility to get to know our new members and identify their individual talents. Once we know their talents, we need to put those talents to work for our Chapter. We need to be open to new ideas and experiences that will allow every member of every age to play an integral role in achieving our mission.

I challenge each of you to take an active role in identifying the hidden talents within your chapter and finding ways to promote those talents not only within AMBUCS, but also within the community.