Throughout our time in BBYO, we motivate ourselves with future goals and events. Whether it be the next convention, movement initiative, membership mark, or programming deadline, these goals fall short of what really matters to each of us: the impact we have on each other and the legacies we will one day leave behind. As a leader on a board, you hope to better the organization of your community by tailoring the BBYO experience to each member’s needs. We each have alumni who created an individualized experience for us to make us feel special and ultimately to create a sense of belonging. However, for seniors this year, it has been hard to strive towards that next goal and next impactful opportunity when our final steps are being questioned. Our home and the organization we have belonged to for the most influential years of our lives thus far will soon be a distant memory and our chances of getting to say a proper goodbye are not guaranteed.
With COVID-19 being an unpredictable and unprecedented issue, it is impossible to truthfully say whether or not life ceremonies, state of the orders, or conventions will occur in the ways we are used to. Whilst these events are motivators to members to work hard and stay active in hopes of celebrating their achievements, at the end of their BBYO experience, the events have become stressors for many seniors. As underclassmen, we watched our predecessors stand in the middle of cheer circles, lead meetings, and embody their council or region before the entire order. Events like these, and more importantly the people we have seen participate in them, are what seniors have longed to be a part of. However, no one could have expected that our final in-person convention would be the last of its kind in our BBYO careers. In a sense, the class of 2021 is having to mourn the BBYO experience that they knew prematurely.
Summer programs are an incredible way to prolong our time in the orders, yet BBYO is a grassroots movement; it is our time in the chapters, councils, and regions that we strive to hold onto. The bonds tethered between members are unbreakable and the energy members create in a physical room is irreplicable. With COVID cases on the rise, many conventions and summer programs could potentially be canceled again. Chapter programs have adapted, yet many members have chosen not to return until programming is how it used to be, and without them, programs feel like they are incomplete. It is vital that members feel appreciated and wanted, despite attendance and location barriers. To do this, chapters need to focus on retention more than ever.
There are many ways for chapters to retain their seniors and their seniors’ legacies. Creating a senior yearbook for the region, senior surprise and delight moments at their jobs or schools, or individualized videos from the chapter to each senior can create even the smallest sense of appreciation. At CLTC 5 2018, a lesson was taught called “Lollipop Moments.” A man saw people waiting in a long line, went to the store, bought lollipops, and handed them out to everyone in the line to cheer them up and help them persevere. Two people in this line ended up talking about the kind act, eventually got married, found “the lollipop man” years later, and thanked him for the impact his small deed had on their lives. In BBYO, lollipop moments are instances in which someone does something small, like giving rides to programs or sending a text about how much their presence at a program is wanted. These programs may seem insignificant to the person doing the deed at the time, but in the end, heavily impact the recipient. Everyone has a lollipop moment, and everyone has been the lollipop man for someone else.
As the first semester comes to a close, realize the mental state that many seniors are facing as the biggest chapter of their lives, and their time in the chapters that they love, draw to a close. Provide lollipop moments to those seniors, and seniors, provide lollipop moments to the chapters and organization that has done so much for you. Remember your past, see how it has shaped your present, and work to influence the future. Although times are hard and it is easy to give up, Alephs and BBGs have never been afraid of a challenge. We are resilient game-changers, and like Anita Perlman, if we persevere, our legacies will remain alive and well.
Bree Katz is a BBG from Kansas City Council who loves coffee, Betty White, and the manatee from Little Mermaid 3.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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