Annual Report of the WSG and minutes of the AGM
An article in the Dominion newspaper recently appeared to have some relevance to our Study Group. It read:
“Clubs face aging and declining memberships, dwindling volunteers and competition from Internet Meetup groups.”
Is this us? Yes some of us are getting older and we have sadly lost some members this year. In particular we pause to acknowledge the loss of Allan Jenkins and Ian Haxton who both played an active role in the Group during their time with us. Many members are finding it difficult to volunteer to fill the roles necessary to organise our activities and maintain our premises. Also there are many groups appearing to offer similar opportunities for meditation, philosophic discussion and good company. Are we what the article describes as:
“doggy paddling at the moment but it’s becoming harder to reach the shore”?
I believe we are doing better than just doggy paddling. We have welcomed two new members this year, John Clark and Rod Meyer, and also some others are joining in our weekly meetings but not yet full members. We are blessed with a sound funding base thanks to our Hobson Cres property which has a healthy cashflow from our upstairs flat and the hire of downstairs rooms. Added to this are the funds from the sale of Strathean. This means that we can afford to pay for outside contractors to help us maintain and repair the building and grounds. This complements the limited ability of our members to contribute their time due to busy lives and the trend to move out of town. As for competition from Meetup groups, well if you can’t beat them join them! We have done just that by reaching out to the broader community with our very successful monthly Rest Reflection and Meditation meetings which are advertised on Meetup.
The Past Year
To manage our house and grounds and ensure the funds are well spent your committee has made a number of significant decisions during the year. The first was to contract a house manager who could oversee the regular maintenance and also work with the contractors who need access for repairs and upgrading. Rose Christian has been ably filling this position since mid year and brings to the role a varied background in education and well honed people skills. What’s more she lives just around the corner on Hobson Street. Being married to a retired policeman may also be useful at some stage. More recently she also took over the booking officer role from Laurie who had managed this demanding role for some time. Thanks to Laurie for her great efforts. Under Rose’s watchful eye we have a new cleaner Nafiseh who replaced Julie when she retired from the role. Nafiseh has kept the place tidy even during the disruption caused by repainting the downstairs rooms. Rose also has also introduced us to a handyman Neil who has done a variety of small maintenance jobs around the property.
Another significant decision this year was to contract an accounting firm to manage our accounting and financial reporting from the beginning of 2019. This ends the very long and professional service which has been provided by John Masters and Kaye Davey. To thank these two for fulfilling this role for over 20 years seems an understatement. We are indeed very indebted to them both for keeping our financial records in such good shape and regularly reporting to the committee, the IRD and the Charities Services of Internal Affairs.
A large project started this year was repainting and redecorating the downstairs rooms. We now have a lighter and more contemporary large room which hopefully has not lost its special ambience which is valued by ourselves and so many other groups. The rest of the downstairs rooms are almost completed. We are also replacing the lighting, the gas fire and the skylights to improve the lighting and heating. I would like to acknowledge the vital role that Gillian has played in co-ordinating this project.
Meanwhile some members have continued to make a significant contribution to help with the running of Hobson Cres. Lucette has meet with new hirers and make them aware of their responsibilities in hiring our rooms. She has recently passed this role across to Rose as it fits well with the House Manager’s contract. Jim remains as the point of contact for any matters relating to our upstairs tenants. Ron, Pricilla and Joy have continued to manage our library as it grows and absorbs more books, including inheriting a significant collection from Ian Haxton.
Outside our gardening contractor Jasmin has continued caring for our property under the guidance of Gillian while Emerald Lawns has attended to the lawn mowing.
It is relevant to note here that the annual budget for the cleaner, the gardening and the house management amounts to about $16,000. Other costs such as power & gas, rates and insurance amount to about $20,000.
And last, but certainly not least, my thanks to all members of the committee for their support and wise council on the many decisions we have dealt with over the year. I have really appreciated your help and advice and also the co-operative nature with which we can debate the issues as they arise.
Over the coming year your incoming committee will need to plan to complete the redecorating and the myriad of extra issues that arise from this. Attention will then need to be drawn to the repair or replacement of some of the window sashes which are showing signs of decay. Also for consideration is the repainting of the outside of the building.
Our cashflow from hiring the rooms is looking very healthy this year with only three weekends free in the next 6 months. There has been a noticeable trend away from regular hirers to more casual hirers which means our facilities are being seen by more and more people. This presents a golden opportunity to promote our own RR&M evenings and our brochures are being revised to assist with this.
With some of the large projects behind us it would be nice to think that we all had more time to focus on our real purpose in being a part of the study group. This includes continuing to develop the open evenings where we welcome new comers to experience what we have to offer. I invite you all to think how these evenings may be nurtured and grown over the coming year because I see them as vital to the long term future of the group.
Meanwhile your incoming committee will, I’m sure, continue to swim strongly and surf the waves as they appear. No doggy paddling for them.