All posts by Angela Labrecque

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.

It Starts with You!

WHY I WANTED TO START A BLOG…

Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving as your AMBUCS National President for the 2017-18 year. The theme of my year is “IT STARTS WITH YOU.” This theme came to me when I realized that every AMBUCS success starts with a single member. We, the National Board and AMBUCS Resource Center (ARC) staff, thank you for all you do to make AMBUCS great!

When I began looking at things I wanted to do this year, increased communication was at the top of my list. I expressed this desire to our Marketing and Communications Director Angela Labrecque and Executive Director Jay Laurens, they came on board immediately with a lot of excitement.

Angela suggested I explain why I wanted to start a blog. So here it is: I wanted a monthly blog to exchange information and ideas and to let you know that we are here to serve you. Your ideas and thoughts are just as valuable as mine, the staff’s, board’s or those of any other AMBUCS member.

As defined by Wikipedia,

“A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries.”

This blog will be a monthly discussion on various topics and will include guest bloggers. Through the blog I hope to broaden all of our knowledge of AMBUCS and where we have been, are currently and will be going.

Some of the topics will be AMBUCS history, fundraising ideas, grants, member recruitment, telling your story and communication (social media, websites, press releases and how do I get my chapter noticed by the media?). We want you to tell us the topics you want to know more about too.

I want to use this blog as a bridge to the future. Our strength is in working together. Together we are at our strongest. Our impact is huge and only growing. WE are all AMBUCS!

Your National Board and ARC staff are here to serve you. Let’s work together to create solutions and use our gifts to change more lives.

TOGETHER WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!!

Executive Director Message

New executive director hired - Jay LaurensNOTE: We have retained this announcement because of its historic and ongoing importance to our organization.

The National Board of Directors is pleased to announce that AMBUCS hired Jay Laurens as its new Executive Director.

“Jay Laurens began his career with AMBUCS on January 1, 2017 and I am excited to have him on the team,” said Eric Oschwald, AMBUCS National President. “We are heading into exciting new times for our organization and we feel Jay is the best fit for our culture and expectations for growth.”

Today, our 95-year-old nonprofit charitable organization boasts more than 5,000 members in more than 150 chapters in over 30 states – all working on a grassroots level to fulfil one mission – creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities. Each year AMBUCS members donate approximately 3,500 Amtryke therapeutic tricycles.  They also support 260 educational scholarships for students studying for a career in physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech language pathology and hearing audiology.  Members also contribute countless hours and dollars toward various community service projects.

Jay comes to AMBUCS with nearly 20 years of nonprofit management experience and eight years in higher education administration. The majority of Jay’s extensive nonprofit work involved the oversight of residential, vocational and educational services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Just prior to joining the staff at AMBUCS, Jay served as Director of Career Services and Internships at Pfeiffer University, a private North Carolina liberal arts university.  In this capacity, he coordinated placement of undergraduate and graduate students in experiential internships with nonprofit, corporate and governmental partners.

Jay’s educational background includes a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Special Education from Lenoir-Rhyne University. On a more personal level, he is father of a child with special needs, a former special education teacher and a recreational cyclist.

As the new Executive Director, Jay is responsible for overseeing the operations of AMBUCS and Amtryke; leading staff, volunteers, and members to fulfill the AMBUCS mission; and ensuring all nationwide AMBUCS programs are appropriately supported from the AMBUCS Resource Center in High Point, NC.

Regarding the challenges ahead, Jay recently said, “The work of AMBUCS will never be complete nor the mission fully accomplished. As long as disabilities occur at birth and as result of injury and the aging process, there will be a need for the dedicated service of our volunteers and staff. By continuing a strategic, coordinated approach to expanding AMBUCS’ national presence and aggressively exploring funding opportunities, progress will be significant and thousands more lives will be changed.”

Eric Oschwald is encouraging all members to be patient as the onboarding process takes place. The succession plan approved by the board is being put into action to ensure a smooth transition.

Please join us in welcoming Jay to the team!

Meet Kids 1

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Meet Kids 2

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