Many of you have been attending meetings with South Florida Modern since way back in 2011, when Nicole Kaplan, after relocating to Florida, took the initiative to organize a group for modern quilters, much like the one she helped to found in her former home in New York. For many years the group met on a monthly basis, and remained an informal group, with Nicole handling all of the organizational responsibilities. In early 2015, Nicole, expecting her second child, decided that it was time to hand the reins of the group over to other people, and she asked for volunteers to form a board and take the guild forward.
I was a member of that group of volunteers, and we got together to talk about what our shared vision for the guild was. We agreed that we wanted to introduce more activities, like workshops, sew days, challenges and swaps, lectures, exhibitions and charity work. We looked to other modern quilt guilds for inspiration, and found ourselves truly excited by the possibilities. As one of our first actions, we took a survey of our existing members. We polled everyone who had recently attended a meeting, as well as anyone who had ever signed up for our mailing list. We asked where our members were located, what their quilting skills were, what they were interested learning about quilting, what kind of activities they were interested in. We asked what they wanted from a modern quilt guild. And we asked how they felt about paying dues to assist in the guild’s growth.
We had a tremendous response, and we learned so much about our members in the process.
We then felt informed and able to take the necessary steps to formalize the guild. We knew that registering as a non-profit association would open a lot of possibilities for us: access to free/cheap space for meetings, workshops and exhibitions, the opportunity to assist the community via funds and volunteer work, access to government-sponsored and private grants and loans, reduced rates for services and postage, the ability to accept financial donations to further the guild’s work, tax exemption, limited liability, and increased credibility within our community. We felt that the best way for us to achieve a non-profit status was to apply under the umbrella of the national Modern Quilt Guild. By joining the MQG we would also be able to provide our members with the additional benefits that national guild membership offers, and give our guild the opportunity to work alongside and with many other local modern guilds around the world.
Formalizing as a guild, becoming part of the national MQG, and applying for non-profit status has required a lot of administrative work and preparation. We needed to create Bylaws, register with the IRS, open bank accounts, and fulfill the MQG requirements for starter guilds. We are pleased to say that most of this work is now complete.
As the officers of the fledging Executive Council, we talked a lot about what the guild’s purpose should be, and how we would like to see the guild organized. One aspect we really wanted to tackle was how to make our guild as open and accessible as possible. Through experience, many of us knew that serving on the Executive Council of a guild could be a daunting task. We wanted our members to be able to contribute to the guild actively and have an influence the guild’s work without making the year-long commitment of serving as an officer. We also wanted to make the job of serving as an officer of the guild as rewarding and manageable as possible for those members that do make that commitment. We decided to follow the example of the Austin MQG and form a number of activity councils which allow all of our members to participate in the guild’s organization by contributing to the aspects of our work that they are most passionate about.
I know that I speak for the rest of the Executive Council when I say we are so very excited about what lies ahead for us. We are massively inspired by the possibilities and the opportunities that are opening up for us. We believe that SFMQG will be a wonderful guild because we have wonderful members. We look forward to the journey ahead - to becoming stronger as a group, to the bonds of friendship, to our individual creative growth, to our education, to new members, to contributions to our local community and to the international community of modern quilters. It’s going to be a fantastically fun and ridiculously rewarding trip.
Here's to our future!
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Vice President of Administration