2013 Small Club of the Year:
Dartmouth Club of Eastern Fairfield County
The Dartmouth Club of Eastern Fairfield County is a well-established club with a healthy treasury due to a large number of consistent dues payers. Demographically, it is a wealthy yet older community which has its advantages and disadvantages. Young alumni are not often able to afford to live in the area and traditions can be hard to alter. An American psychologist once observed "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." This is exactly what Eastern Fairfield County did in order to turn the negatives into positives.
Club President Sara Burbine Potter '91 and her dedicated Board of Directors recognized that the monthly luncheons, which are completely organized by two widows, are very important to the lifeblood of the local Dartmouth community. Ten alumni participate every month including during the summer. However, diminishing attendance at the annual dinner was a cause for concern so the Board decided to try a new approach and pushed the event date back later in May and reduced the cost significantly. The results were very encouraging as attendance increased dramatically. Another change in programming was the addition of an annual Wine Tasting event which also had a very strong showing including several young alumni.
Event planning wasn't the only area where the club learned to adapt. Every year, the club works with Bridgeport Public Education Fund to provide college book scholarships of $500 each to seniors from the three Bridgeport public high schools. Although the scholarship is automatic to any Dartmouth-bound student from one of these high schools, occasionally there aren't any students heading to Hanover. Instead of skipping a year, the club works with the Fund to identify and support a senior attending another accredited institution. This program benefited a total of 12 students last year. The club also continues to raise money for its own Dartmouth Club Scholarship Fund and adds to the dues slip contributions by suggesting a $5/person donation at the annual holiday party and "in memory of" donations.
All of this, plus the traditional activities such as alumni interviewing and book awards, remain strong partly due to consistent marketing in all forms of media including the web and Facebook.
According to Aristotle, "Change in all things is sweet." The Dartmouth Club of Fairfield County has taken this to heart and blossomed.
Please join me in congratulating the 2013 Small Club of the Year, the Dartmouth Club of Eastern Fairfield County.