Friday, February 3, 2017

Looking Back on the Jan 28th Presidents’ Award Banquet and Board Installation

This year’s Presidents’ Award Banquet was at the Elks Club on Saturday nite, Jan. 28th .  This was our 43rd such event. About 150 of the Harmonizer family attended the buffet banquet. 


Our 2016 chapter president Randall Eliason served as master of ceremonies and kept us laughing with his references to the current political scene in DC.   Social hour was from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm, then Randall invited folks to find their seats at the tables and the buffet.  Terrific table center pieces were created by Jerri White. Robyn Murane, Janet Cerutti, Lydia Golden, Judy Huber, Sandy Stamps and Kristen Colby helped set up for the banquet. 


After the meal, Randall thanked others who had helped with the banquet event including Steve Murane and Jack Pitzer for the printed program and year in review; Alan Wile for helping get all the awards for the nite; and Art Medici for help with tickets and reservations.

Each year this event is hosted by the past presidents of the chapter – thus the name Presidents’ banquet.  Presidents attending this year included Terry Reynolds, 2014-15; Steve Murane, 2011-12; Mick Stamps, 2008; Rick Wagner, 2005; Ken Fess, 2004; and Jack Pitzer, 1976 (the first Presidents’ Ball was during his term – some years the event has been even more formal and other years it has been a potluck). To continue a tradition begun at the first banquet, each man presented a rose to his significant other as we sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”


Randall  thanked his 2016 board and recognized those men retiring from the board: Mike Edison, Kevin McKenzie and Steve White.


A number of the Board Members of our sister corporation, AH Inc, were also introduced at the banquet: Steve Sutton, Clyde Crusenberry, Bruce Roehm and Rick Wagner.

Randall  shared. “2016 was an exciting year with some wonderful musical and artistic achievements of which you are all aware and which are summarized in your program.”  [See the recently released Harmonizer 2016 Year in Review.]

 “Organizationally we completed the rollout and starting up of AH Inc. as our separate 501(c)(3) corporation, and we are now moving forward under that new structure. I’m very enthusiastic about the year ahead and the many initiatives that we have underway to make it even greater to be a Harmonizer in 2017 and beyond.”

“For years our friends and family have given us tremendous support through volunteer activities. It takes a lot to keep a group like the Harmonizers going. Our volunteers help with membership; help host parties and events; run the house and usher at our shows; sell snacks, CDs, tickets, taking donations; work on fundraisers like White House ornaments; work on the silent auction; and sew and mend costumes to help us deal with any last-minute wardrobe malfunctions. It’s honestly no exaggeration to say we could not succeed in all we do without their help. The volunteers team is headed by Volunteers Director, Robyn Murane, and a long list of 2016 volunteers were listed in the banquet program.  Many thanks to all of them.”

Under our new structure much of the day-to-day operation of the chapter has been moved from the duties of the BHS Chapter Board of Directors and given to an operations team composed of directors with various responsibilities.  Randall recognized the “Ops Team” for 2017:

Executive Director:       Terry Reynolds

Music/Artistic Director:  Joe Cerutti

Finance Director AH Inc:  Carl Kauffmann

Finance Director BHS:  Bruce Minnick

Volunteers Director:  Robyn Murane

Communications Director:         Steve Murane

Contest Director:          Craig Kujawa

Education Director:  Vickie Dennis

Development Director: Nick Leiserson

Membership Director:  Rich Hewitt

Shows Director:  Mick Stamps

Operations Director:  Mike Edison

For the next event in the banquet program, Dennis Ritchey, our fellow chapter member, front row guy, and current Mid Atlantic District president, installed the board for the Alexandria Harmonizers BHS Chapter


President – Randall Eliason

Secretary – Chris Buechler
Treasurer – Al Herman

Members at Large – Dave Branstetter, Don Dillingham, Art Medici

Immediate Past President – Rick Wagner


Moving on, Randall acknowledged the many “riser rats” who continually execute the hard work to set up the risers, sound equipment, refreshments, guest chairs, admin table, screen and av equipment, membership sign-in kiosk and member picture board.


Randall  used his presidential prerogative to present three Meritorious Service Awards for exceptional service to the chapter. 


This first recipient was Keith Jones.  He has been a Harmonizer for nearly 40 years. He has held chapter offices, has produced shows, chaired conventions, been a section manager, and performed just about any other duty for the chapter that you could imagine. When life took him outside of the Alexandria area he was an active member in a number of other barbershop chapters around the country. In addition to work within the chapter, he has served as the board secretary for the Mid-Atlantic District for at least 10 years. He was a BHS judge and has served on the faculty at Harmony College East. Even after he stepped off the risers, he has continued to attend virtually every rehearsal and provides invaluable service to Joe and the rest of the music team behind the scenes.

The second recipient was Terry Reynolds.  They say in any institution such as ours no one person is indispensable – but Terry comes close. He has served in many, many capacities for years as an integral part of the music and management team of the Harmonizers.  As well, he has served in various capacities for the BHS. The transition we have undergone this year to create the new 501©(3) was the vision of a small number of people, but Terry was spearheading it as chapter president for two years. And since then he has been working tirelessly as our first executive director. Randall said, “This award really seems inadequate when compared to his contributions, but I just wanted to personally thank him for all the work he has done and continues to do on behalf of the chapter, and all of the help that he has given me personally.”

The third recipient was Liz Birnbaum (actually presented at the Tues Jan. 31st chapter meeting).  The final recipient of the Meritorious Service Awards goes to an individual who contributed a great deal to the successful creation of our new 501(c)(3) corporation and the division of accounts and responsibilities between the two corporations. Many Harmonizers devoted a great deal of time and effort to this project, but this award goes to someone who is not a Harmonizer but nevertheless devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to that project. As a lawyer with experience in the nonprofit world she was instrumental in drafting the many corporate organization documents and state and federal filings necessary to create AH Inc. She was deeply involved in the creation of our new Organization Manual that sets out the responsibilities of the different members of the Ops team and division of responsibility between the two corporations. She has served as one of our inaugural community board members for the BHS Chapter – becoming the first female chapter board member in the history of BHS – and then as a community board member in the new AH Inc. organization.  Within AH Inc., over the past year she spearheaded the development committee to focus on things like fundraising and consolidating our mailing lists of patrons, and now for 2017 she has taken the helm as President of AH Inc.


Next Randall honored these recipients of the six chapter memorial awards given each year with a description of the award.


New Note of the Year Award

 (Nominated by the President, VP-Membership/Chapter Development, and VP-Operations; selected by the Board of Directors).  Given to a Harmonizer who has contributed outstanding service to the Chapter in his first year of membership.  All new members for the previous 18 months prior to October 31 of the current year will be considered.  Attendance, attitude, and accomplishments of duties, both volunteer and assigned, shall be considered.


2016 recipient – Matt Doniger  This was a tough field this year, as we were fortunate to have a number of new members who are already contributing a great deal. This year’s winner is an enthusiastic chorus performer and quartet man. In addition to singing, he is always one of the first to volunteer to assist when anything needs getting done. He is consistently there when we call for extra hands to help with a show set-up or tear down, as well as helping with the risers every Tuesday. He has volunteered as an active member of the operations team and now regularly serves as one of the drivers of the truck, as well as working on loading and unloading the truck.


Spirit of Harmony Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Presented to the Harmonizer who during the past year best exemplified the fundamental Society membership qualities of congeniality and good character and worked hardest to encourage participation in vocal harmony by Chapter visitors and members.  The awardee must reflect the spirit and ideals of O.C. Cash (Society founder) by his enthusiasm for good fellowship and good harmony and by his unselfish dedication to and obvious joy in barbershopping.

2016 recipient – Dave Branstetter (actually presented at the Tues. Jan. 31st chapter meeting). This year’s recipient absolutely embodies the criteria for this award. He is a dedicated member of the chorus who clearly relishes not only the singing but the fellowship that the chapter provides. He has been an enthusiastic and energetic performer on the front row. He has served the chapter on the board of directors and has volunteered in other ways, most recently stepped up to help with publicity for the holiday show by working on a mass mailing. 

But perhaps his standout contribution is his weekly memo to all of us, describing what will be happening at next week’s meeting and beyond. The centerpiece of these memos is his weekly philosophical musing on some topic related to the chorus, what we are doing, or what Joe and the music team are trying to teach us. It’s always uplifting and positive and encourages us to focus on something important. Maybe you love them, maybe you skip over them, but the time and obvious care that he spends on these messages really demonstrate his love for the chapter.. 

Ibbianne and Wilbur Sparks Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Given to recognize the important contribution of Harmonizer family teams to the success and well-being of the Chapter.  The award will be made only to a truly outstanding team which has contributed greatly both in volume and quality of services over a period of time.  The team can be a Harmonizer and any family member or significant other.

2016 recipient –  Saundra Deltac and Don Dillingham – She is a stalwart member of Robyn’s volunteer team, particularly working at shows to sell tickets, sell concessions, make signs, help organize, and do basically anything else that needs to be done. In the past few years she has also taken the lead in organizing and running the Silent Auction (or, this year, the raffle) at our Holiday Show.

He is a solid member of the bass section who also contributes to the chorus in many other ways, including as an occasional motivational speaker and cheerleader. He took the initiative to organize and teach the New Zealand Haka to a group of men before we went to International at Nashville last summer, and they performed it for a New Zealand chorus. That chorus was so moved that their director was in tears and the Harmonizers have now formed an enduring bond with that group as a result. He has also been active in our youth outreach programs this year, including helping to bring star quartets to local high schools to sing and promote our youth harmony festival.

Harmonizer Honor Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Given to a Harmonizer for service which is above and beyond the usual service expected of members during the past year.  It is not intended as a reward for discharging a single specific duty, but for continuous service in several activities.


2016 recipient – Carl KauffmannWe completed the rollout this year of our new 501©(3) organization, AH Inc. One of the most complicated parts of that process involved the finances and budgets of what would now be two organizations. Books and accounts had to be set up for each corporation, along with separate budgets. A number of people on the finance committee and elsewhere did a great amount of work in this process, but Carl made it work. Through it all he demonstrated his great attention to detail, and always asked the hard questions to make sure we were doing things right. He started out last year as the treasurer for the BHS Chapter, and then transitioned to the position of finance director for AH Inc., where he currently serves. In addition, of course, he is a long-time member of the tenor section, consistently and reliably at every performance and engagement.


Oz Newgard Memorial Award

 (Nominated by the President, VP-Music & Performance, and Musical Director; Selected by  the Board of Directors).  Presented in memory of Oz Newgard (Musical Director 1962-70).  It is given to the Harmonizer who has made a significant contribution to the musical program of the Chapter during the past year.  The awardee's contribution need not be highly visible or of a technical musical character, but it must be related directly to the musical program. It should show the intent to make the musical program superior and enjoyable for all members.  The awardee should be a dedicated Harmonizer who has endeavored to improve the Chapter image in the Society and in the Alexandria community through musical excellence.  Any Harmonizer who has been a chapter member for more than one year shall be eligible for the award.


2016 recipient – Rick Savage This year’s recipient is one of those heroes of the chorus, who quietly serves year after year to make the Harmonizers the best they can possibly be. He  has been a Harmonizer for more than four decades, has sung in a variety of competitive quartets, has been an outstanding performer both on the front row in the past, and currently on the risers. He also served as uniform chair in the past. He’s a reliable member of the chorus who can be counted on to attend virtually every performance.  But perhaps his most stand-out musical contribution has been his service as the tenor section leader for so long that no one can remember for sure – at least more than two decades.  He can always be relied upon to help out when needed, including last summer in Nashville when we called on his sartorial skills to help fit and alter uniforms for the competition.

Harmonizer Memorial Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Presented in memory of those men who died while members of the Chapter.  It is the highest recognition which the Chapter can bestow on a member.  It is given to the Harmonizer who, during his entire period of chapter membership, has devoted himself most unselfishly in rendering outstanding service to the Chapter.  The award is made only to a truly outstanding member who has regularly attended Chapter activities and who has contributed greatly both in volume and quality of services over a long period of time.

2016 – Mick Stamps   Throughout nearly 30 years in the chapter, Mick has always stepped forward to contribute.  He is a devoted performer with the chorus and has also been a long-time successful quartet man. He has held offices in the chapter, including president. He has been a producer or co-producer on a number of successful shows, including serving as a co-chair organizing our recent very successful trip to Normandy. He has produced three separate CDs for the chapter. He has worked on numerous committees related to fund raising, music, uniforms, and shows. He and his wife, Sandy,  have for years spearheaded our successful fundraiser selling holiday ornaments each year.

Most recently, when the chapter suddenly and unexpectedly found itself without a producer for our holiday show, he stepped up on extremely short notice to be the producer, and his professionalism and experience made it an extremely successful show. He has now agreed to continue his service to the Chapter as our new Director of Shows on the Ops team.

Before the banquet was adjourned, director Joe Cerutti thanked president Randall for his work and leadership. And then we sang Happy Birthday to Randall.

After the banquet, guests were invited to dance to the music of Riptide band which includes Chris Huber, Kellen Hertz, Joe Cerutti Sr. and Joel Golden.  They invited Rusty Orvik to sing one of their numbers too.

 Until next time – editorjack!

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 68th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

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