DIS Membership Passes New Bylaws at Annual Meeting
About 70 members gathered at Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Ada Michigan for the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Dutch International Society on July 24, 2019 at 7 pm. The meeting hall was wonderfully decorated by board members Carla DeLugt VerHage and Maria DeLugt Kocsis with Dutch and American flags and the DIS banner. Old-time Dutch music played in the background and lemonade (and of course coffee) and cookies were served.
Board president Matt Helmus led the meeting. After welcoming the membership Matt expressed the current board’s gratitude for the work of former board members and others in the membership. He acknowledged the hard work of so many who kept the DIS alive after all these years.
The agenda included a vote on approving new and modernized bylaws for the organization. The membership overwhelmingly voted to approve, both through proxy votes received from the membership renewal mailing, and through a show of hands at the meeting. Our membership currently stands at over 900 with about 500 renewing so far for next year. The board was overwhelmed by the almost $5000 in donations for the work of the DIS from new and renewing members.
Matt introduced the new board members, who each said a few words about themselves and expressed thankfulness to former board members and their hopes for the future of the DIS. Check the Summer 2019 issue of the magazine for profiles of the new board members.
Matt reviewed some ideas the board has discussed for the future of the DIS. The board hopes to make the DIS a society that is open to anyone interested in things Dutch and Dutch-American, and attractive to younger people, while preserving the things that our current members have enjoyed. One idea is to make the DIS – through the magazine, social media, and the DIS website – THE place to come for information about Dutch and Dutch-American events and organizations in the United States and Canada. The board also acknowledged that many of our members do not live in the West Michigan area and we need to work to make the society more than just a regional organization.
During the question and answer time members also expressed gratitude for the work of former board members and excitement that the work of the DIS will continue. Many had good ideas and emphasized the importance of engaging the younger generations.
The meeting ended with an interview with special guest John Karsten, who recently retired as Town Crier of the City of Holland.