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What do you consider the "extra mile" of service from professional scouters?

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I've always been interested in going the extra mile, yet staying within the parameters of what my job is, meaning I want to supplement, but not usurp, the duties of the volunteers.


I hope I didn't lose you in the first sentence.


What do you expect from your profesional staff and what would make you say, "Wow. What can I do for you?"


Today is what we call "popcorn day" in our council. It's normally the day the popcorn and wreath (our main product sales and 30% of our council budget) orders were due. It was all hands on deck from 9:00 AM this morning to 6:00 PM. That's not extra mile. That's what I call "expected performance."


I had also made the change of adding show and sell (sometimes called consignment) to our popcorn sale. This meant that returns of unsold product and payment were due today. This was a new wrinkle, although a profitible one for all concerned.


The Scout Executive, who had sensed from me that he was driving me nuts, left the office at noon and didn't return until about 6:00 PM. Actually, he had meetings with donors and was doing all the stuff Scout Executives are supposed to do, but I was glad he was outta there because I had work to do.


I couldn't go more than 4 steps in any direction I wanted to without being stopped by a different question. The questions came from the book-keeper, the 3 DE's (that's all we've got) unit leaders, other support staff, whatever. It was nuts.


To further add to the stress, unlike last year and the years before when a week's time had been loaded into the time when the orders were due and the council order placed, I set the deadline up so that the orders were due today, I will process them over the weekend, and place the order Sunday night for delivery on Wednesday. Tight, tight timetable.


I did this to give units a longer time to sell. However, they will not be able to add on like they have in the past, when the deadline has expired.


I got three calls from unit leaders who knew they had a dealine but also had scouts with significant orders who had not turned them in.


I gave those unit leaders my home telephone number and gave them until 2:00 tomorrow (Saturday) to fax them to my home. I will place those orders. The first fax came at 9:00 PM this evening and will be entered by tomorrow morning.


The order dates are firm. I can tell you in all honesty that our under-paid hourly paid Book-keeper will be at our office tomorrow morning (Saturday) to check the email and fax machine just in case someone sent in a late addition to their popcorn or wreath order. She'll be there tomorrow because she doesn't want to miss church on Sunday. I'm not currently a member of a church, so I'll do the same thing Sunday morning. Then I'll place the order on Sunday for both popcorn and wreath and they will be delivered on time.


I'm fully expecting calls at home all weekend from people who have gotten the word that I have to order the product by Sunday night. I'm not grousing about it, but it is a fact and a drain on my personal resources.


Okay -- back on track. I do have to admit that I get a little frustrated with the popcorn and wreath "add ons" and volunteers forgetting that they are not the only unit in the council and looking for exceptions.


My question is . . . "Is what I described going the extra mile?"


In the first council I was employed by, it was expected by all that our home phone number appeared on our business cards. I took as many calls at home as I did at the office and never thought much about it.


In my second council, my home phone, address, business, and email appeared on my card -- and I worked out of the office. Very few calls at home.


In the council I currently serve, I'm listed in the phone book, but the secretaries are under orders not to tell anyone my cell phone number and my address is nowhere to be found other than by the professional staff and those savy enough to look in a phone book. I've had about 5 Scouting related phone calls at home in the 18 months or so that I've lived here.



Okay -- sometimes I wonder if I'm doing enough for the volunteers who serve our youth. Usually it's when I'm very tired and I have to admit that's the case tonight. I'm very tired.


What do you consider to be the extra mile of professional service? How can I help encourage more professionals to achieve that extra mile? How can I go the extra mile for you?



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Just had an "extra mile" experience.


I'm in charge of coordinating the Scouting For Food Drive on base.


To make a long story short, I have to go through 7 layers of military red tape to get the official approval for our troops and pack to place bags on base residents doors. One of the requirements is to place a flyer in each bag explaining that this function has the blessing of the Base Commander, and the food will be going to the Company Grade Officers' Club for their Xmas Basket program.


We have over 1600 bags to pass out, and that adds up to quite a few flyers. I asked my DE at RT if the Council could help out with making the copies, he sayed he would check into it. Yesterday afternoon before I left work I got word that the flyers are ready to be picked up. I don't think council had to help me out with this because last year I paid for the printing out of my pocket. To me that was an "extra mile".



Cary P

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Strange how as soon as I seen the title of this thread I knew who the author was.

I will also bet thay you knew that I would post.

First let me say that having you here in the forums and as a friend has and does mean a lot to me. Even if you do have to put up with me venting. You do add an insight to these pages that I know many of us are very grateful for.

A lot of the time some of us volunteers are a very unappreciative bunch.

We at times suffer from a "Them" (The Pros. - "The Council" and "Us" ( The Volunteers. And at times those who are odds at the Council.)

As you know I have a lot of dealings with the Pros.

Most of the people who work for the BSA are outstanding. Ok so they get a pay check. I don't in any way hold that against them. I run with the idea that there is no them and there is no us. Only a We.

We are in this game together. We can make it work or not work.

The realationship between the Pros and the Volunteers is and has to be a partnership.

It would be easy to say that the Pros are going the extra mile with popcorn, because they need it in order to get paid.

But as you and I know that money will be used to help fund the entire program. That program is for our "End user. - Our youth.

Some things that I think we need to look at are. This is not in any order of importance.

Ensure that everyone is informed and working on the same page.

How very often I get a message from our DE. Telling me that "They" need something done ASAP. Which is at times a problem in it self. But this is made worse because some of us have no idea that it had to be done. Why it is being done? If we have no ownership in whatever it is. Please don't expect us to give it 100%. It is not going to happen and does fuel all sorts of negative feelings.

If something doesn't work. Stop doing it.

The idea that we will give life to that dead horse is not only fool hardy. It is a waste of time.

We all value our time. Please let us work together to fix what don't work. Spending time working on something that everyone knows isn't going to work results in burn out faster then anything else.

Please schedule your work hours around the time when we are free.

I know that it is a pain. But it is necessary.

I in no way advocate that a Pro is to be at our beck and call 24/7. I am aware that there is work that goes on when we are not around and that a great deal is done during the office hours of 9 - 5. Sad thing is that is when we are working. A few "Shifts" of 2 -10. Work better for us. Not working one day during the week and being available on a Saturday is a good idea. Ok I know that no one wants to work weekends. But we need to think out of the box.

Please don't treat us like mindless idiots.

Even though we may not have had the same in depth training that the Pros have taken. We do have a brain.

Please tell us it like it is.

We know when we are are being treated like a mushroom. When the truth is dressed up, we have a nasty habit of thinking that we are being lied too. We don't like it. Even when the news is not that great we are adults and can handle it. We are also more willing to help put whatever it is when we know where we stand.

Remember that we are in this for the youth. Your career is up to you. We don't do what we do to make anyone look good.


None of this is directed at you as a person. I hope you don't take offense.

Hand on my heart: None is / was intended.

My BIG thing is that we have to push the idea of us being in a partnership.

We all have stong points and some that are not so strong. As a team we can make up for the not so strong and make good things happen.

By the way we do popcorn next Saturday.

Sad to say while our District made it's goal.We are the only District to do so. As a council we are down by approx. 10%.

But our membership is down. So we have less sellers.

This has been/is a very tough year.


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Eamonn, no offense taken at all. Indeed, I am honored to count you as a friend even though we've never met face-to-face and have never shaken hands (which is an important thing to both our cultures.)


I started this thread first by putting on my bullet proof armor and fully expecting to have to pay for the sins of the Scouting profession.


I have long held the view that volunteers have brains and that the more they know, the more they can help youth. I always found as a DE that if the district were behind in any given goal, that the volunteers would respond positively if given enough notice and I told them how missing the goal would effect them. It wasn't an "I need" statement. Who cares what I need? I'm an employee, nothing more.


But if the district were to lose in membership, the quality of the program would suffer, camporee fees would increase due to less youth participating, etc. The Scouting movement does lot exist to support me, I exist to support it.


Any professional who thinks that Scouting exists to support them should no longer exist as a profesional. I've fired more than one because of that kind of belief.


Okay, so I admit to being hard core. I've been chided by more than one Scout Executive for dismissing candidates during an interview who have said in some variation that "this job might be fun to do for a while." My theory is that if you're not in the profession for the long haul, you're not in the profession at all. For some odd reason, I find it difficult to hire new professionals. But I'd rather take 4 months to fill a vacancy than fill one quickly and fill it again quickly and again quickly, etc., etc., etc.


I also agree with Eamonn that professionals should work when the volunteers are available. I think some councils screw this up when they require the DE to be at the office at 8:00 AM every morning (whether they worked the night before or not) and stay until 5:00 PM and then go to their evening meeting as well as working weekends.


My philosophy is that we work to get the job done. I have DE's that show up at the office at 10:30 in the morning, leave at 4:00 PM, work or go to meetings from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM, come back to the office to return calls and work until 10:00 PM. I don't regulate their hours, or the Scout Executives, or mine. We do what we need to do to deliver the best program we can.


Sometimes a DE will get tired or be having a bad day. They'll come to me and say, "I'm going home. I know it's only 2:00, but I've had enough for now. I have a meeting this evening and I want to be fresh for it."


My usual reacion (having been there and done that) is "Why are you telling me? Get out of here. Get some rest and go to your meeting."


No need to whip those who work hard to make the program better.


I have to admit I get frustrated when I hear of councils with required work hours for the DE's. If I were required to be at my desk for the entire business day at the whopping salary of $30,000 and also required to attend evening meetings 2-5 nights a week, work weekends, and sometimes early mornings I'd check out pretty darn fast.


There's only so much work that can come from any human being. Believe it or not, a DE is usually human. Not always, but most of the time.


For the record . . . Eamonn is an excellent volunteer. He vents on occasion (by his own admission) but his venting is always for the good of the movement.


I vent sometimes, too. I just don't do it here unless it's polite. I hope.



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I forgot to tell you, but I'm printing off your response to the question at hand and will use it at my staff planning conference in January. The staff planning conference is the place and time when the staff (professiona staff) put together their plan for the coming year. I intend to use your post and anyone else's from this forum to show the DEs, myself and the scout executive, that general volunteer expectations are of us as professionals. Thanks to you and my thanks to anyone else who wishes to contribute to this thread.


This isn't to Eamonn, but to everyone -- don't complain about professionals if you provide no input and leave us to our own devices.


I hope that the information from this thread will help me train the people I hire and supervise to be the kind of profesional who meets -- actually exceeds YOUR expectations.


Keep those cards and letters coming . . .



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Dave, how I wish one of the pros in the council I volunteer in would ask the question you pose, and do so with sincerity. Eamonn said much of what I feel. Our pack feels that it's very much on its own, and I personally try hard to be considerate and encouraging to our UC and DE, but it is often hard to do. Each actually said they didn't listen to me because they felt I was over-reacting and dramatic respectively. Last winter I became part of leadership, by the following spring I brought the following items to the attention of the UC and DE: 4 of 5 leaders were talking of leaving; families were unhappy with the program and leaders; CM was considering leaving; all leaders were untrained. It would have been nice to be taken seriously, rather than to be told not to worry as there really wasn't a problem. Then we lost over 30 boys over the summer. Though I was saddened at that loss, my hope was that it would get the attention of someone who could help us. No professional should be expected to go the extra mile IMO, and he certainly should not feel he needs to give out his home number. But a plea for help, with some specifics given, and a request for a response at "your earliest convenience" (I don't know the DE's schedule but do know him to be very busy and often on the road), shouldn't be asking too much. Or am I asking too much?


p.s. We now have a new UC who is very supportive, but that came about by meeting the District Commissioner, who knew that this particular UC wanted our unit and that we wanted him--so that problem has been resolved. As for the DE, he now has 2 districts, and as much as I feel for his busy schedule, I fear we will have less help than before. It must be tough being a pro, but it's tough being a volunteer too, and I truly believe we can and should work together, not work in spite of one another.

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Thanks for participating on this forum, DS. That is truly the "extra mile". I'll add my 2 cents:


Agree with doing what it takes to get the job done, but don't forget your job description. If you have a volunteer in a position, get out of the way and let them do the job. It may not be the way you would have done it; we all have different styles of management. It may not be according you your timeline...we have careers that feed our families and which must take our first priority. I get up at 0500 every morning and often get home just in time to change into my scout uniform and get to my 7 pm meeting that night. Supper often comes at 10 pm when I get home. This is at least 3 nights a week. If the job requires a DE to work 80 hrs a week for 30K per year, I think that is unreasonable. But your beef is with your employer...don't take it out on the volunteers who have their own, different job descriptions. I am reminded of those who buy homes next to the airport and then complain about the noise. When the BSA finds it impossible to attract and retain competent professionals (which, by my observation is soon to be the case), perhaps they will take a look at and improve the working conditions. Beating harder the ones who are left is not smart. A DE once told me, "BSA is all about family values, but this is no job for a family man." He is actively looking for another career...at his wife's insistence.


If I take my valuable "free time" to go to a meeting, it had better be worthwhile. Have an agenda and stick to it. Send out the committee reports by e-mail ahead of time so we don't waste time reading them for the first time at the meeting. If you are the DE, don't dominate the meeting. Your time is the "Professional's Minute" at the end. If the chair of the meeting isn't doing his/her job, or the committee chairs are not submitting reports, replace them...don't do the job for them. Chewing out the ones who are there is not the right answer.


I understand you don't spend much time in the office (nor should you), but do return phone calls and e-mail from your volunteers within 24 hrs. Don't call ANYONE after 9pm, unless they've asked you to.


NEVER schedule my time for me. If you advertise an event without consulting me, I will assume you have it covered.


I could go on and on...I once considered becoming a BSA professional...but now that I know what I know, I could never be one, nor would I recommend it to any one.



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I have mixed feelings about professionals.


I've gone to them for information that couldn't be provided by volunteers and I never hear back.


When I do hear from the professionals, it is usually about boosting membership or raising money which are really the same thing.


I often get the impression that quantity is much more important than quality.


Not long ago, one of the packs in my area got into membership trouble. What happened was that one pack split into two because it had gotten so large. Both were competing for the same pool of boys and one grew while the other shrank. The committee of the shrinking pack went up the chain of command looking for help. No one gave a hoot until the pack was about to fold then the DE got involved with a frantic last ditch effort to save the pack. Why? We were left with the impression that no one cared about the dying pack because the money was still rolling in from the Scouts who joined the other pack. When it looked like the revenue stream from the pack was about to vanish, then the DE got concerend.


The irony is that the pack that folded, up to their penultimate year lead the district in popcorn sales. The other pack doesn't sell popcorn. So the membership numbers stayed good but the council lost a boatload of popcorn money.


I was recently at a meeting where the DE's boss came to speak. What was his message? Not provide a quality program. Not get the leaders trained to provide a quality program. Get the membership numbers up.

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Thanks for the posts. I appreciate the feedback and plan to use it with at least the professional staff I work with to help them be better professionals.


Let me also say that I think that beating anyone is poor management, whether it be a BSA supervisor beating a DE or a DE beating volunteers.


As to Scoutleader's quote: "Beating harder the ones who are left is not smart. A DE once told me, "BSA is all about family values, but this is no job for a family man." He is actively looking for another career...at his wife's insistence."


I agree that beating harder the ones who are left is not smart. Remember the phrase from the movie, "if you build it, they will come?" Well, turn it a bit and you get, "If you beat them, they will leave." BTW -- that applies to volunteers as well as professionals.


I disagree, respectfully, with the DE that feels the profession is no job for a family man. He may be working for an unreasonable boss, but I doubt it. I've found that if I want a DE to survive for any length of time, I need to actively seek ways to help them make time for themselves and their families.


The BSA is a great profession for a family man. If you have a sick kid and a wife that works, you can call your boss, tell him/her what's going on, and work from home for the day. I know professionals who leave the office at 3:00, go home and be with their kids until 6:00 or so and then go to the meeting. Got a weekend event? Take the kids with you. Odds are the volunteers will not only understand, but enjoy playing with the kids while you do your thing. Does the DE really need to go into the office for three hours on Sunday, or would a little bit of thinking ahead have prevented it?


As to the beating of professionals . . . I believe that if you motivate properly, they will perform and they will stay. It's like my presence on these boards. I stay because I feel respected, valued, enjoyed, etc. You each contribute to that. No matter how much you've disagreed with me, I've never felt personally attacked, ignored, unwanted, etc. If that were to change, I'd be outta here.


Anyway, keep the posts coming. I do appreciate them. Now I'm going offline for a while to prepare our council's wreath order. It's Sunday and if I'd have thought through the dates better when I placed them in the council calendar last May, I could have done this during the "working week" next week. But I didn't, and the vendors are expecting this council order by 9:00 PM this evening. It will probably take me at least 4 hours to prepare the order. Then I have to finish the council popcorn order. They're all due today.


I don't blame the BSA or my profession for this Sunday work. I don't blame my boss. I don't blame my DE's. I don't blame any volunteer, including yourself. Who's fault is it? Mine. Mine alone.


And, the fact is, I enjoy the work. :)




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With professionals I consider anything they do beyond the Job expectations they are paid to do as "going the extra mile". Professional scouting, especially at the entry level of DE, is a challenging profession. My base expectation is that they do the job they were hired to do, grow youth and adult membership, spread the program by finding new charter organizations, make sure the council is financial prepared for the future program needs.


Anything they do beyond that is just icing on the cake. My personal opinion, as far as program quality..that's our job as volunteers. We are the providers of the program not the professional staff. If you want a better program for scouts than become a better leader. Scouts do not care about the administartion of a council, they care about their next meeting, and we have complete control over that not the pros.


Bob White

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Special thanks again, to Sctldr. However, I don't view my participation on these boards to be "extra mile" stuff. I enjoy it way too much. I consider each of you to be part of my extended family. Mostly because of the way you've welcomed me and (for the most part) have listened to what I have to say.


I particularly value the few of you that I have had the opportunity to meet in person or discuss things by telephone. Laurie expressed the opinion that a professional scouter handing out his/her home phone number is "extra mile" stuff. I don't think so (no dis-respect to Laurie) professional scotuers have a right to a home life, but when you need one, you need one. I have never minded a call at home from a volunteer -- except for the ones that want to cuss at me and yell and scream. I've had my share of those. Those calls upset my wife too much. I'll take those calls at the office.


I also am thinking of a volunteer who was the Cubmaster of a large, but renegade kind of pack, who would call me when he did his Scouting -- Sunday evenings. He was looking for his popcorn prizes (back in the day when we took them to roundtable, which his pack never attended.) He would tell me what he was looking for in prizes and I would write it on the back of my TV Guide. Come Monday Morning (trash day) my wife would take out the garbage and out would go the TV Guide.


Come Monday morning, I couldn't remember what the guy wanted and he didn't get it. I finally told him not to call me during the movie of the week on Sunday, but to call me during business hours in the week. He called on a Monday afternoon and got what he wanted within the hour.


It's okay to call your pro at home, but don't expect peak performance.


I love this Scouting stuff. (I hope this doesn't offend Barry.)



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Dave, I didn't find that comment disrespectful in the least. I am curious though. Am I taking the concerns our pack has to the wrong person? If I am, that would explain the lack of assistance. Our pack has some terrific people in it, but we have so much to learn. Training did not address who to go to other than the DE. It seems as though more and more is sent his way, and yet, with some district-level volunteers, we have found important answers. Some guidance in this area -- the who to go to with what concern -- would be super. It would also help volunteers like me to go to the right people, and in doing so, not overburden others. TIA!


By the way, we've a new CC, and she is taking over the contacting the council part of things. We did not have one before, and I'm delighted that we have one. She'd like to hear the answer to this too :)

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Examples of going the extra mile:


The SE that personally cooks the steaks for the SM's dinner every week at camp.


The DE that works at camp all summer, not because the SE forced him to, but because he cares about the camp and campers.


The DE's that show up when they don't have to. (If our DE shows up at our troop's 25th anniversary dinner this weekend, that would be an example.)


Things that I think would be nice if the pros did, but usually don't, at least where I am from:


Show up at the largest gathering of Boy Scouts to be held in your council for 9 years for more than an hour.


Don't just drop off the materials needed for an event and leave, stay a while.


Take invitations seriously. Just because you don't have time to make it to all the events you are invited to doesn't mean you shouldn't reply in a sincere way. ("Why would they think I would show up for THAT? Don't they know I am busy" [that is supposedly what a pro in my council said to another office worker about someones Eagle COH with several volunteers around as witnesses.])


If you are the SE you should probably know the name of the Lodge Chief by the end of his term. You don't need to really know him, but knowing who he is would be a considerable plus. That way when he calls you a few months after passing the torch to the next Chief you don't have to ask "do I know you?" after he gives his name. That also prevents the key youth and adult leaders of the lodge from feeling like you don't really care about the program they dedicate their time to when they hear about said conversation. (That comes from personal experience. It is backed up by the fact that my predecessor, who became Section Chief, had several similar experiences.)




That example of the SE cooking for the SMs is perhaps my best example of an SE going above and beyond. He could have stayed in his office that afternoon, but instead he drove to the camp, checked in on the staff, then helped set up for the dinner, personally cooked the steak, and made certain everyone felt welcome at his council's camp. He took time to talk to some of the SMs and find out how their week was going. People remember those personal touches far more than they ever remember the extra hours at the office, or the amazing increase in FOS contributions someone raked in. (unless they were there along side you helping during those extra hours, or those fund raising attempts)(This message has been edited by Proud Eagle)

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I'm glad I started this thread. Perhaps, when we finish kicking around the topic, you'll print it out and share it with your DE. We seem to be providing excellent advice to professionals who want to succeed.


Eamonn wrote of the partnership between professionals and volunteers. Wise is the professional who recognizes that fact and works hard to be a true partner -- which means coming through when the volunteers need you and doing the unexpected -- like showing up to a 25th anniversary dinner or at least responding to an invitation.



To answer Laurie's question -- I think it's always best to start with a volunteer. I'm not sure how your district is set up, but before going to the DE, I recommend going through the appropriate volunteer. For example, if you have a question about the camporee, call the event chairman or the district activities chairman. Advancement questions should go through the district advancement chairman. Popcorn questions should go to the district popcorn chairman. If those positions are vacant, call your District Chairman or District Commissioner. Their names and numbers are probably in your council newsletter. If you don't know who the appropriate volunteer is, then call the council and ask who that person is.


The reasons I say you should call the appropriate volunteer are: 1) they volunteered for the job and want to do it, 2) if they don't have an answer for you, they can make one up and make it stick -- unless it's a BSA policy question, 3) The volunteer is specializing in the area you have questions in and is responsible for that particular function of the district. The DE is a generalist and may not have the answers to the questions you're asking. IF you had called me when I was a DE and asked, "What does each boy need to bring to the camporee?" I would have given you the phone number of the camporee chairman because I wouldn't have known the answer.


If you have questions relating to BSA policy or can't find a volunteer who knows the answer to your question, then please call the DE and ask.


I said earlier that I don' mind calls at home. I do mind being woken up. Our office is closed today in honor of Veterans' Day. I was asleep at 8:30 this morning when my phone rang. I answered and was greeted by the soothing trilling of a fax machine. So I got up and ran downstairs to turn on my fax machine. It rang. I picked up the handset and a woman wanted to add her wreath order (which I placed at 10:00 last night.


She and I had discussed her late order a couple of months ago. Her problem was that her pack was planning to take orders at the church fair on Sunday. I told her she could call me at home, to tell me to turn on my fax machine, and then she could fax her order to me Sunday night.


I had forgotten her name and figured I must have had her order last night. She had forgotten the Sunday night thing and figured she'd better call me first thing Monday morning.


By the time I took her order and went back to bed, my alarm went off. I hate it when I'm awakened 10 minutes before my alarm goes off. It's robbery of the highest sort :)


I have to admit I minded that call a bit . . . but I did take the order.


I think I'm going to take a nap. I'm getting cranky.



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Dave, I wish I were as nice as you while feeling cranky :)


Thank you so much! Had this info been given to me--or to anyone in the pack--we'd have eliminated a lot of unnecessary calls to our DE and been better up to date on what's what. The names of district volunteers are not readily available, but either the CC or I have been meeting many lately at various events, and we keep names and numbers. Now we will know who to call.

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