The Aileen Osofosky Goodwill Committee held its fall meeting Monday night. ACBL President Russ Jones told a story about some hotel guests who wandered into the convention area, not knowing what was going on there. “When they found out the people in the ballrooms were playing bridge, they said, ‘It doesn’t look like they’re having any fun,’” he said.
About 120 committee members attended the reception and listened to the presentation by committee chair Sandy
DeMartino and the other speakers. No one was playing bridge at the time, but they looked like they were having fun.
Jones talked about how social bridge players are a prime market for recruiting, but duplicate bridge has a perception problem. “They say, ‘You guys are so mean,’” he said. “We want them to look at the duplicate game and say, ‘They’re having fun.’ We’ve got to treat people nice.”
The main event of the meeting was the presentation of a special award to a volunteer in the host district. District 21 Director Jackie Zayac presented the award to Marion Robertson of San Francisco, who has been a volunteer in the local bridge community since 1990.
Robertson got her start in volunteering while her husband was attending Harvard, when they realized their neighbor was Julia Child, Zayac said. Robertson asked her neighbor if she needed any help with anything, and she was asked to help with washing dishes.
“How many bridge players benefitted from that experience?” Zayac said. “At unit games she would make lunch for 30 tables.”
Robertson served as District 21 president in 2002–03 and as vice president the two years before. “I got to be president for three years,” Robertson said, “because the previous president moved away while I was vice president.”
According to Zayac, since Robertson’s term expired, she has been a member of the executive advisory committee for every district president since. Among her service to the district, Robertson:
– wrote the district bylaws.
– served on the youth bridge committee since its inception.
– wrote guidelines for distributing grants.
– negotiated a lease for a district van.
– serves as information chair for this NABC as she did for the 2012 Fall NABC.
Robinson also served on the board of the Western Conference for 12 years and rewrote its bylaws.
“Marion’s biggest contribution is she always says yes,” Zayac said.
DeMartino also announced the Goodwill Member of the Year, who will be presented with the award in Columbus. William Stine of Rancho Mirage CA will be recognized for his selfless commitment to our players and the game, she said, citing his nomination. “As tournament and unit chairperson, he has established a group of volunteers and works alongside them at every opportunity,” she said. When two new directors needed transportation to attend a training program, he gave up a day of his time to drive them and wait while they completed their class.
Both Joe Jones, the ACBL executive director, and Russ Jones, the outgoing president, talked about how goodwill is critical to recruiting and retaining new members. Joe Jones applauded the committee members for their volunteerism and for being goodwill ambassadors.
“Goodwill is fundamental to growing the game and building membership,” he said. “As ambassadors of the game, you set the example everyone should follow in order to ensure the future of the game we love so much.”