Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SCHOLARSHIP

Coop Kohli, AU Lakes Zone Director                         September 18, 2017


AU AWARDS SIX $2000 SCHOLARSHIPS



The AU Ladies National Auxiliary for years made the AU Scholarship Fund a principle part of its program, and for years the AU made an annual donation to the fund to support it. However, as the sport aged, it became increasingly difficult for NLA to maintain its own membership, and in 2014, the group approached AU President Tom Coletti seeking a commitment from the AU to take over the scholarship program, as the group had plans to disband. Funds for scholarship in past years came from bird sales, auctions, and other functions organized by the ladies themselves, but with its declining membership, staffers were being over-worked,volunteers were hard to find, and contributions were declining. At the same time, a number of regional groups began organizing their own auxiliaries and scholarships, cutting into funding sources.


$12000 in Scholarship assistance 
has been passed out by the AU since 2014.

Clearly committed to the mission of ensuring that the AU assists AU youth as they pursue their educational and professional goals, AU President Tom Coletti assured the officers of the NLA that while he was President he would see to it that the AU managed the Scholarship program and its mission of making financial contributions to deserving youth.

To that end, a new AU committee was formed, and Ron Pairan eagerly agreed to lead as Chairman, falling back on his professional expertise for 34 years as an Educator and Youth Guidance Counselor. It was decided that three (3) scholarships would be awarded each year. An application process was put in place, criteria was developed, and the first applications were received in 2016, when a total of 16 applications were received by the June 1 deadline. Educational interests ranged from attending medical school, traveling nursing, veterinary medicine to forensic accounting.

Applications are weighted, based on need, a demonstration of youth giving back to their
Chairman Ron Pairan uses his
34 year as a youth guidance
counselor to supervise the
awarding of AU scholarships.
communities, and leadership. Applicants must be 23 years of age or younger, and must be pigeon flyers, or relatives of pigeon flyers.  Applicants must provide proof of having at least a B average, must provide a personal biography, a photo, and a resume that explains their goals, community involvement and achievements.

In 2017, twenty-four applications have been received, a fifty (50%) increase in participation. To date, the AU is proud to say that the good work of the AU NLA is being continued, and that a total of six (6) scholarships have been awarded, each in the amount of $2000, to applicants from Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Kansas and Massachusetts.

The scholarship application and criteria are featured each quarter in the AU Updates and annual Yearbook. Applications are due each year by June 1, and all applications are given careful consideration. Winners are selected and announced in the Fall of each year. Checks are sent to recipients upon proof of enrollment.

Scholarships mean everything to students struggling to pay for higher education. In my own case, I have a daughter that recently graduated from Northwestern University with a Phd. She got very little help from me, but worked very hard, risked everything, secured every scholarship she had access to, and found a way to make her dream come to fruition. Although she did not participate in this program, these small scholarships may help some struggling student, like my daughter, bide their time in the pursuit of a dream.  I am glad the AU feels a need to be there for students.


I Am Betty Logan.

FOR 18 YEARS, BETTY LOGAN HAS BEEN OUR OFFICE MANAGER. "WE DO MORE THAN JUST SELL BANDS."


Betty Logan would just love to talk to those folks that think all the AU does is just sell bands. “We try to be pretty motivated in this office, and it kills me to think someone we know would think of our mission that way. I am the Office Manager of your AU office, and I take your feelings about our work seriously.”

Lets start with this. On Betty’s first day on the job, Monday, May 3, 1999, an F5 tornado tore this place apart. After her day at work, the building disappeared. “Everything was gone. We started over”, she said. “But we put the place back together again, better than ever. How many of you even knew what we went through? We got ripped apart, and put it back so smoothly, you barely noticed.  That’s what we try to do on a regular basis. If we do our jobs right, you shouldn't even know we exist.”

Now, Betty wants you to know what she does for you every day of the week, (and she wants someone to share it with those clubs that think we only sell bands). “I love this job, the people I work with, and this crazy, beautiful sport. My sole purpose here is to help each one of you to maximize your enjoyment of your hobby. Now, this is what I do”:

•I focus on customer service, and in case there is any confusion, you are my customer. I know I need my customers. I love my customers. I hope you sense that when we visit on the phone.

•I retrieve, and answer many voice mails and emails sent to our office switchboard. Communication is the essence of good customer service. I never forget this, and I am good at this.

•I create invoices, statements, payment receipts and credit memos. Nothing in my own world bothers me like invoices done incorrectly. I work very hard on accuracy.

•I do data entry in our 10,000+ member data base. “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. We don’t do garbage in this office, or on my watch.

•I send out quarterly membership renewal letters. This is very important. We have got to have members. I also know you are very busy. I keep after this by keeping after you. I want you to keep coming back.

•I prepare and send out membership cards. It is a confirmation that we are doing things right, and I like that feeling.

• I fill and send out all mail-orders (bands, diplomas, t-shirts, hats, posters, prints, bumper stickers, WinSpeed programs). This is one of the more enjoyable parts of my job. We want you to buy more of this product. It helps us promote the sport. I stay on top of it.

• I post payments and attach copies of payments to invoices.  Money is another area that demands accuracy. (Don’t we know!)

• I file. This I hate to do, but no snowflakes work in this office.  We do things that must be done, on time. No crying about it. I export and merge files for mailings and label orders, and process all out-going mail. I don’t really like doing that either!


• I keep a registry of ARPU band numbers (95,000 pieces), and I keep it up to date, and I keep it right. We sell 950,000 bands.

• I track band numbers for lost and found birds. This is a big job, and ties into our PR work in our communities regarding reacting quickly to lost bird calls. This is important work in our effort to stay ahead of animal rights groups.

• I keep the log of registered WinSpeed users. This is important because AU members paid for this program with their dues money.
This is the property of AU members. We need to know where it pops up illegally.

• I prepare and mail information packets when they are requested.  I understand that sport promotion is critical. I try to do my part in your effort to recruit members.

• I prepare documents and club packets for annual renewal, oversee the inventory of band orders, and prepare orders for shipping. Dates on this activity are time sensitive. I’m on top of it.

• I am responsible for ordering equipment maintenance and equipment supplies, office supplies and inventory items.

•I create and prepare Club, Combine, Concourse Charters and Lifetime and Honor certificates. I know in this area we are trying to honor people, and clubs. Some of these things are mementos. I do it right the first time.

•I prepare monthly reports for the accountant and quarterly inventory, as well as prepare Mid-year and Year-end board meeting reports. Those seem to be of increasing importance as time goes by, and they take a great deal of time to do right.

Betty adds, “I need my customers to be happy and positive about this office. You need that. We need that, and I understand that. You don’t need to worry.” So, there you go. Betty’s goal is to be there for you, prepared, when you call needing her help. We welcome your calls.

The girls in the AU office want to always be in PUSH mode, as President Coletti calls it. Betty also calls it GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

RON PAIRAN - INFRACTIONS CHAIRMAN

COOP KOHLI, AU LAKES ZONE DIRECTOR                                     SEPTEMBER 12, 2017


JUST MY OPINION.

“BEFORE WE GET DONE WITH YOU, TRUST ME, YOU….WILL KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THE TRUE MEANING OF VERUM, JUSTICIA, VENERATIO.”

Tonight, I am wondering if I am the only pigeon flyer in America that doesn't know the meaning of this message sent to our Infractions chairman after the AU board ruled against this man’s interest in an AU infractions dispute? Should anybody donating their time for the good of the national effort to improve pigeon racing really have to put up with this? Did some of us forget that these guys are volunteers? Yes, of course, I googled it, and found the meaning to be somewhat vague and varied, with considerable leeway as to how it could have been intended, but it certainly sounds like a veiled threat to the reasonable mind of this writer. It makes one ask, “what is the sport becoming?”

WELCOME TO PAIRAN’S WORLD.

Likable, fair-minded and knowledgeable, 67 year old
Ron Pairan, of Millersport, Ohio, has been a member of
the Lancaster Pigeon Club since 1987, joined the AU Board in 2006 as Lakes Zone Director, and was elected AU Vice President in 2014, but in addition to that, he holds undoubtedly the most thankless job in the sport; Chairman of the AU Infractions Committee.

A 2013 AU Legend of the Sport, Pairan is also an American Trenton Breeder and AU Certified Judge, who knows a little about breeding good pigeons, and the racing of good pigeons, having won the Triple Crown One Loft Race in 2001 and 2012, having placed 21st once in the Million Dollar Race, having had birds in the first drop in the Devore Classic and the Devore Challenge, having won the Joe Stankos Memorial Race and the Miami Valley Sportsman's Race.  Pairan has also bred 28 AU Champions and 3 AU Elite Champions, and has won numerous Digest Awards. He has also never missed an old or young bird race series since he started racing. In Ohio, Pairan has held numerous offices in his club and combine, and is currently the Race Secretary of the COC Combine. The value of that experience for you and me, is that Pairan understands how hard it is to make a pigeon club work even when things are going well, and can relate easily to the issues that AU members call him about when seeking guidance to solve their own organizational problems. He understands “fractious”, in other words.

While on the AU board, Pairan created The Master Loft Award, the Yearling Award, and compiled the Youth Idea Book (which is a free download from the AU website), and created the current complaint form placing emphasis on trying to solve infraction issues locally, whenever possible. He and his Lancaster club-mates have done many public pigeon releases, and Pairan has been a presenter and speaker at the Cincinnati Home Schoolers Convention for the last 2 years, trying to encourage youth into the sport. Now, again, why is this background important to you and to me? Because
Pairan knows the sport, and none of us want some bozo running the Infractions Committee that’s throwing Hail Marys all the time. The seat requires extensive experience, as well as self-control as you can see from jab thrown at Pairan in the opening of this article, and Pairan has lots of both things going for him.

While there is nothing tough about being Vice President of the AU organization when you are sitting in the shadow of the President Tom Coletti and Executive Vice President Jay Holder (who also shields you from most of the sun’s rays), in his role as Infractions Chairman, Ron Pairan is out there alone, holding the proverbial tiger by the tail, and taking the heat while heading up a very important AU committee. “Since 1999, 51 infractions have been filed, and 10 members have been expelled from the AU. The work is complicated, time-consuming, but important to the integrity of the sport”, said
Pairan. In this role, the straight-forward, former school teacher of 35 years, occasionally has to go head-to-head with some bristling personalities when interpretations don’t go their way, but he can take the pressure, something he learned many years ago as President of his local Teacher’s Association. At its very best, all the decisions the committee makes “will be wrong” in the eyes of the losing party, and may be wrong to both parties, if both sides need some correction. “Another thing that people need to remember is that, because we try to protect the privacy of the people involved, rarely does the whole story ever get presented to the general membership”, Pairan added.

HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS.

Here is how the process normally works: a call comes into the national office from an individual with an organizational problem that is not getting attention. The call gets directed to Karen Clifton. Many calls come in that result in no followup, but still get all the attention they need. After a discussion and an initial evaluation, if no other options are viable as determined by Clifton, and if the caller still wishes to file an infraction, dates are noted and notes are taken. The file is numbered, and the details are forwarded to the Infraction Chairman. More calls are made by the Chairman, and more discussion of the dispute takes place. If the initial caller can't get the problem remedied at the local level, the Infractions chairman assigns the case to one of three AU Investigators. One AU investigator is a Prosecuting Attorney, and a second generation pigeon flyer. A second is currently a Criminal Attorney. The third is retired after having served his state as a State Investigator in child abuse cases for 32 years. Again, more calls are made, details are probed, and more questions are asked, as the facts in the dispute are sorted out. One function of the investigation is to confirm that the organizations are following their own by-laws, and are not violating AU rules, according to Clifton. After the process is completed, the investigators summarize all details in a written report, make recommendations on how they think the problem should be remedied, and pass the information on to the AU Board, where the topic is discussed by the full board again before a final decision is made. Never is the decision on settling an infraction made by one man, but Ron Pairan has the unleasant duty to share the news with those involved.

Sometimes when infraction committee decisions don't go the way the offending parties want them to go, the thought of bailing from the AU to the IF enters one’s thinking. In cases like that, it is important for flyers to know that the AU and IF have a Letter of Reciprocity, meaning members in poor standing in one group are unable to ignore the rulings of the organization they are with, by jumping to the other group.  The IF is notified whenever parties subject to sanctions part ways with the AU.  In the end, no one wants to get tied down in these issues, but sometimes there is no way out.  When that time comes, we are thankful that there are guys like Ron Pairan and his investigative team to help sort out the details.  However, in the end, it is always more satisfying to keep problem-solving and decision-making at home.