Hello MASH Members,
It has been a trying year for MASH, and there are some changes that we’d like to tell you about.
MASH has been declining in membership for recent years, and we have had difficulty getting members to come to AGMs or get involved in leadership. At the last AGM, we had a situation where almost the entire board was discussing resigning, each for their own personal reasons. There were no serious issues at hand, just a sense that there was a great deal of effort being expended in directions we were not interested in pursuing.
We began to discuss the things that MASH does well, and the things that we felt were of little use to the membership or to the board. We talked about the things that we wished MASH could be and what we felt we wanted to do for members. We also talked about the things that we didn’t want to do, and the things that ate up our time and our patience.
Out of that discussion came a series of decisions that has led to some very significant changes.
First, and most significantly, the lack of volunteers and the requirements of the current structure and bylaws led to a great deal of stress felt by current board members. The latest AGM was the point of “either close the doors or make some big changes”. As a result, the decision was made to dissolve the MASH board and the current constitution. We decided to rewrite MASH from the ground up to meet the needs of the volunteers serving and the members of the association.
The new bylaws are available for you to read on the MASH website http://manitobahomschool.com/about-mash We will summarize the major changes here.
1) MEMBERSHIP IS NOW FREE. By paring costs in the last few years we have managed to get our expenses to a minimal amount every year, and we believe we can cover these expenses through goodwill donations at MASH-organized events, and through advertising in the newsletter and on the MASH website. Removing the burden of managing memberships, handling the finances involved, dealing with expirations, late applications and such will remove one of the greatest stresses that the board faced.
2) MASH IS ABOUT INFORMATION. We intend MASH to become a primary online destination for anyone looking for information on how to homeschool in Manitoba. We want to centralize a store of articles written by Manitoban homeschoolers. We want to help people connect to each other in real life by seeking out and publicizing groups that are available to assist homeschoolers, and by running seminars and information sessions designed to get homeschoolers and future homeschoolers talking face to face with people who can answer questions and offer assistance. MASH will also be a repository of information on local sources of homeschool resources and local business that offer special classes or discounts for homeschoolers.
3) MASH IS ABOUT ADVOCACY. We already have a very close relationship with the government liaisons, and we think that we can be of assistance to homeschoolers by maintaining that relationship and leveraging it to make your needs known.
4) MASH IS NOW 100% DIGITAL. Printing and mailing costs were significant in terms of both time and money. Newsletters will now be available in PDF format only and all other communication to the membership will now be via email, the facebook page or the website.
5) YOU BECOME A MEMBER BY ADDING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO OUR EMAIL MAILING LIST. If you give us your email address through the form on the website, you are now a MASH member.
6) IF YOU ARE ALREADY A MEMBER, YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE ADDED TO OUR MAILING LIST. If you are a current MASH member, you don’t need to do anything. We will add your email address to the mailing list, and you can stay a member as long as you wish without sending us another cheque.
7) YOUR MEMBERSHIP IS VERY IMPORTANT. You can get the benefits of MASH without joining. However, when we approach government, being able to point to the size of our mailing list and say that we represent a group of people who are interested in Manitoban homeschooling will be very useful in building our credibility and influence. Please consider adding your name to our list.
7) THERE ARE NO MORE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETINGS, OR TRADITIONAL BOARD STRUCTURE. AGMs were poorly attended (less than five members at the last three AGMs), expensive, and in the end rather frustrating. We wanted to help members come together to learn about homeschooling, not to listen to board business. The board will now be replaced by an Advisory Team. The primary difference is that roles and duties within the advisory team will be fluid depending on the skills and desires of the current Team members. The advisory team will have meeting throughout the year that MASH members are welcome to attend.
8) A PLACE ON THE MASH ADVISORY TEAM IS AVAILABLE TO ANYONE WHO WISHES TO HELP OUT. If you have any desire to help out by submitting articles, helping run the website, running seminars, talking to homeschoolers who contact us for help, or if you simply want to contribute to the discussions about MASH’s direction, there is a place for you at the table. All you need is a letter introducing yourself, and after you attend 2 meetings the Advisory Team votes to make you a member of the Team.
9) MASH IS STILL GOING TO DO WHAT WE DO BEST. There will still be the regular New Homeschooler Orientation nights that are well attended and appreciated. We still plan on running Enrichment Evenings on various topics. We still plan on holding Weekend Workshops with various guest speakers. We still plan on holding regular “Parents’ Night Out” meetings to discuss whatever you need to talk about. We still plan on having an active Facebook page for you to share your thoughts and ideas. We still plan on running the MASH Picnics.
In short, MASH has changed to an organization that allows the Advisory Team to spend far less time on internal management and much more time on the parts of the role that are far more enjoyable and fulfilling: helping members get the most out of their homeschooling experience.
Thank you for your support,
The MASH Advisory Team