President's Report - AGM 2022
President’s Annual Report for the Year 2021
While every year has its challenges, the past two years have been particularly difficult due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The effects have been felt worldwide and continue to impact on every aspect of our lives. The effect that it has had on Central Coast U3A has been wide reaching and challenging to our organisation, but we have risen to the challenge in many ways. I would like to summarise the effects of the pandemic and the steps we have taken over the past two years and 2021 in particular, to maintain a strong and robust organisation despite the obstacles we have faced. Foremost in our minds has always been the health and welfare of our members.
Membership – Before the advent of COVID-19 our numbers were already dropping, maybe due to an ageing membership, but in the past two years we have seen a substantial decrease in membership due to the uncertainties of lockdowns and health restrictions imposed by our government. In November 2019 our membership was 693. As of 31st December 2021, our membership was only 411, but after a surge of new memberships and renewals over the past few weeks, we are now on 460 which is encouraging. The decline in membership is disappointing, but I guess expected given the current environment. Thought must be given to building up once more when the future is looking more positive.
Courses – A full complement of courses was scheduled for 2021, in the hope that COVID was behind us. Our members were excited to finally meet again, and we managed to complete Semester One before Delta struck and we found ourselves back in lockdown. Your committee made the difficult decision to cancel all courses for the remainder of the year to maintain the safety of our members and leaders. We quickly put together a number of courses on Zoom for our members who could join in online. I would like to thank the leaders who were able to transition to online presenting. A total of 21 courses were presented on Zoom and 369 members enrolled in those courses. Our members were surprised how easy it was to participate and were grateful to the committee members who worked hard to make this happen. I would like to especially thank Dena Blumenthal and Judy Frewen, and Geoff Collins, our Zoom experts. Lindy Allen was also kept busy liaising with venues, making changes, and then ultimately cancelling bookings. Thank you to Lindy.
Finances – Also working hard behind the scenes was our Treasurer Geoff Collins who managed refunds from cancelled venues. Our finances have remained robust during these unsettled times, and as a result, the committee decided to offer half price membership of $25.00 for both renewing and new members in 2022 to compensate for the disrupted year.
New Initiatives – During the past two years of COVID restrictions, your hard-working committee has been committed to keeping our communication channels open to our members. Regular emails have been sent to update members on the COVID-19 situation as it has unfolded and how this has impacted on our organisation. Postal members have received hard copies of all the updates. The Lockdown newsletter that was created in 2020 has continued to be produced each month and has been a great success in maintaining contact with our members.
Special thanks to our Silver Lining Editor, Penny Alexander, who has done a magnificent job, our proof-readers and our members who have contributed to this wonderful presentation. Social isolation is a growing problem, and by these initiatives plus phone calls to our more vulnerable members, we endeavour to keep our U3A “Family” engaged in these difficult times.
Website – During the year we welcomed Margaret Robertson who joined the committee as Website Administrator. The website has become a focal port of call for all matters U3A and has been updated regularly as we have worked through all the many challenges that have presented themselves due to the Pandemic. We will be doing some more work on the website in 2022 to make it both entertaining and informative to members and those interested in joining our wonderful organisation.
My U3A – Our Online Platform continues to be the cornerstone of our online presence. It enables our members to renew and pay online, to enrol online and apologise online. It enables the management committee to maintain our member’s database, course records, and financial records and provides a simple method to contact all members via bulk emails. So important in this last year with the need to regularly update our members due to ever changing circumstances. Special thanks to our Tech gurus, Dena and Margaret Ward, who although no longer a committee member works hard in the background on all matters technical, with the added help of member Marie Reynolds who is also assisting with MyU3A.
Social Committee – Due to the ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, the only social event that took place in 2021 was the new member’s morning tea which was held at the Gosford Greyhound Club. It was well attended and enjoyed by all. Such a shame for all the enthusiastic new members who have joined during our “pandemic” years, when we have had to curtail our courses and activities. Let us hope that we will be able to schedule some social get togethers later in the year as we move through the pandemic.
NSW Network – 2021 has unfortunately seen some major upheavals in the New South Wales Network Committee. The new committee, elected at the AGM was put under the spotlight for failing to provide the services that are expected of the Network Management team and lack of transparency. This resulted in a SGM (Special General Meeting), which was held on 2nd November. The President, Secretary and Treasurer were stood down and a new interim committee elected which was made up principally of Regional Reps from around the state. They are working hard to put the Network back on a strong footing and support the member U3As from around the state.
COVID-19 – The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted on every aspect of our lives. In ways we could not have imagined two years ago. In the face of this challenge, the Management team of U3A Central Coast has responded to the issues and adhered to all NSW Health directives. Our aim is to provide ongoing support to our valued members whilst ensuring our organisation remains robust and able to adapt to the changing order. With 94% of our population double vaccinated and most of us now due for our booster shots, we are hopeful that we can offer most face-to-face courses in Semester One. We were pleasantly surprised at the great take up of courses on enrolment day last week. Our members are obviously keen to get back to enjoy what U3A Central Coast has to offer.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing Committee Members for their valuable contribution to U3A Central Coast. They are our Treasurer, Geoff Collins, our Secretary Carol Fairweather, and our Publicity Officer Rhondda Driver-Parks. I also acknowledge the sterling efforts of all our 2021 Committee, Vice President and Class Manager Dena Blumenthal, Course Leader Co-Ordinator Judy Frewen, Venue Co-Ordinator Lindy Allen, Membership Secretary Anne Denholm, Newsletter Editor Penny Alexander, Phone Officer Linda Sydell and Web Administrator Margaret Robertson. It has been a difficult and challenging year.
The future is unpredictable and with our age cohort we must remain wary and cautious. We acknowledge the advice of NSW Health and other authoritative sources as we move through this pandemic and hope and pray for a return to normality in the not- too-distant future. Keep well everyone.
Carolyn Kingsmill – President
U3A Central Coast (NSW) Inc
Under current Government Rules, and to protect our members and leaders, face masks are required to be worn inside venues and all attending must have had at least two vaccinations. We will be obtaining proof of vaccination which will then be recorded on MyU3A. We will continue to monitor all updates from the Government and other agencies and members will be regularly updated with any changes to current restrictions. Our website is updated whenever there is a substantial update to the ever-changing rules.