Persuasions #10, 1988 Page 4
A Note from the Past President, November 1988
Volunteers are everything in JASNA! If we take as our mission bringing together people who love Jane Austen, we see that it is volunteers who fulfill our mission. North America has no “hallowed ground” where Jane Austen lived or worked, no site to focus on and preserve. Instead JASNA’s Janeites have focused on her art, her six novels; they are why we come together, why there is a Jane Austen Society of North America. So I salute our volunteers who are so vital and important in bringing us together, especially of course for our biggest gathering of the year, the annual general meeting.
Planned entirely by volunteers, the AGM is our “showcase.” We have just been treated to our tenth such event, held in Chicago, and by all accounts, “the best ever,” every detail attended to, every speaker excellent, every event in Jane Austen style, presented with finesse and grace, a splendid weekend and all the work of volunteers! We congratulate Patricia Latkin and the “wonder women” of Chicago who have given us such a bounteous “feast.”
But I acknowledge too the year-round, year-after-year, volunteers who bring us together, the Regional Co-ordinators. They are the heart and soul of our Jane Austen network, and I hail them for all the interesting programs they give us in our own neighbourhoods.
The end of four years as your President seems a natural time to sum up for you and to thank all those volunteers who make JASNA what it is: The officers, editors, board members, regional leaders, conference co-ordinators, committee heads, workers. All who energize JASNA so magnificently.
There were a lot of things that I hoped to accomplish when I became your president. Several small but crucial needs seemed obvious: Some kind of helpful guidelines for regional leaders just starting out, a handbook on running our annual conference, a brochure about the Society, a newsletter for members, and, as we grew to double in size, a professional computer service to help maintain our membership list. On top of that we needed to do some serious thinking about our future. Thanks to our volunteers we have satisfied those needs; we have also begun a dialog on long-range planning for the Society. I am happy to report that JASNA is organizationally sound and fiscally healthy. Doing all this has in turn directly or indirectly helped to bring together even more people who love Jane Austen. It has had some beneficial side effects, too.
Who would deny that JASNA’s attracting so many like-minded people has had a salutary effect on Jane Austen studies? No scholarly or publishing project now seems too ambitious when Jane Austen is involved. (For instance, two facsimile editions are promised for 1989: the letters and the manuscript of Lady Susan.) And now JASNA’s help is being sought in the formation of a Jane Austen Society in Australia! Indeed JASNA flourishes!
So, obviously, the important thing to say at the end of four years is thank you to all JASNA volunteers! I thank you also for your trust and your support; it has been a pleasure to help bring together those who love Jane Austen. It has been an honour to serve you.