2014 has been a great year for GNARC. We had a fantastic summer picnic at Paul’s (WB2JVB) house, Field Day had great food and great DX, and most recently we had the holiday party.
But, while these events are fun, we do them every year. Starting in January 2014 we changed our meeting place to the brand new emergency operations center at the Norwalk Fire Headquarters, which was a huge step up from Stop and Shop or Shop Rite. We finally had a room where there was a place to project presentations, and have the seating for people to see it! Not only that, but we weren’t freezing while doing it! We were finally able to hold meetings without having to hear “cleanup, Aisle 3”. As if that wasn’t enough, after many years of being a wandering club, in September we acquired a new place to call home. The new Emergency Communications Center at 100 Fairfield Ave. is the permanent official home of the Greater Norwalk Amateur Radio Club.
Prior to this, the only physical place where the club existed full time was a P.O. box and a storage trailer, and neither one of those places is very inviting for a prospective ham. We only had a tiny 2 hour window each month with which to introduce someone to our club, after which all we could do was point them to a website. Even then, all they were able to experience was a business meeting and a presentation where (with a few exceptions) a radio was never even keyed up. I recall one meeting where I had invited a friend, whose impression of it was “Where are the radios? You’re a radio club, right?” Which leads me to another point; through the hard work and dedication of a group of members, we now have a station that can be used to show prospective and new hams what our hobby is all about.
It’s not just about getting new blood into the club, though. What is just as important is that we now have a place to meet with each other and not have to listen to a single person drone on at the front of the room while everyone falls asleep. All of us now have the chance to gather at a place during the day, when we’re all wide awake, and “ham it up.” We have the space for doing projects, and won’t be time limited because another group needs the room, or the store is closing, or any other reason we have in the past had to cut things short. We can meet for coffee and doughnuts, or even cook a full breakfast with our commercial kitchen, and when we’re done eating we can mosey on over to the next room for the chance to work major DX. After we work the DX, we now have walls that can be covered with QSL cards.
What may be the most important thing of all is that now we have a location to demonstrate ham radio to government organizations and political figures. The video link we set up for the Oyster Festival wowed many “people in high places”, and now we have the space to set up other demonstrations that can further impress. Emergency Communications is known to be a part of ham radio, but those of you not interested in emergency communications you may wonder why I feel it’s important to impress these people. The reason is simple. Politicians LOVE media coverage, so whatever they do generally gets some press. If we get good press, then we get more members.
I’m sure all of the members of the club know exactly how much trouble moving into a new house is, and how much faster things go when you have an extra pair of hands. There are still a few things that need to be accomplished for us to be fully moved in, and we need a few extra pairs of hands to get it all done. Also after moving in there still needs to be periodic upkeep done, and we need hands to get that done, too. I’ve heard the argument that “I pay my dues! That should be enough.” Please don’t get me wrong, I agree that in the past paying dues is for the most part where the responsibility ended. But we have a home now. In our own individual homes we pay for rent/utilities/taxes/repairs/upgrades, but we still have to do the dishes, take out the trash, dust the furniture, mop the floors, and the rest of the honey-do list. If we really want to make this new location our home, and not just 4 walls with a roof to put our things, we need to do the chores, to.
Sometime in the near future I’ll be contacting everyone to ask when you’d be able to come to the new place to help out with our honey-do list. It would be much appreciated if my email was full of responses saying “I can help on Saturday the 3rd” or “would anyone be there on the 6th at around noon? I’ve got some time to kill.”
With that said, it was a privilege to have been president over the year, and it makes me very happy that I was able to play a small part in all that transpired. I wish you all a very healthy and happy 2015! See you in January!