Delivered by President Jason S. Weingartner, January 17, 2002.
Before we can know where we are going to go, we need to have a sense of where we have been. I have had the opportunity to go through some archives for this club. Some of the archives go back to the 1920’s where they talk about purchasing 30 cigars for $3. If you look at over the years, this club has really been the focal point for Republican Party politics in NYC. In 1928 having former President Herbert Hoover met with a small group of us, 40 people, at the Yale Club. Mayor John Lindsay, for better or for worse, was a former President of the club, along with E. Virgil Conway, the former head of the MTA and Eric Javits, the nephew of Senator Jacob Javits and a Republican Eagle. So we have some very prominent people who have served as leaders for the club and many prominent doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc. who have also served in leadership positions. We also accomplished many great things as well, such as conducting a rally and fundraiser for Hungarian refugees at Madison Square Garden in 1956 that attracted thousands of people, in response to the Soviet invasion of that country. This is what this club is capable of doing. We had an active membership of 7,000 in the 1960’s. They had coffers of $75,000 in the 1960’s that would translate into quite a large sum in today’s dollars. Somewhere along the way, I believe, the club had lost itself.
When my ticket ran, on August 30th, of last year, we had a dues paid membership of about 20 people. We tried to find what this club offered its members and we could not find anything. We would have a “meeting” once every three months at some bar where it was designed only to be a happy hour. So Terrence McCauley, the Vice President, Dennis Cariello, the Treasurer, Kimberly Morella, the Secretary, and myself, the President promised that when we ran that we would treat this club as a professional organization. We are not saying that we will not do fun things and as many of you have been to some of the events that we have thrown, I think you would agree that you have enjoyed yourselves. We felt, however, that we could do so much more as an organization. We spoke of growth on two levels: one of internal growth, one of external growth. What do we mean by this: that an organization such as this should have more than 20 dues paid members. Our email list began with only these 20 members. The bank account: There was very little money in our account when we inherited this club on August 30th. We argued that we really need to grow that account, that yes there is a need for a Young Republican organization to have money, to in fact do something, like membership drives, hosting fundraisers for other people and have money to pay for trips for our members to go places. There is a need for us to have money. There is a need for this club to act in a more professional manner. Whether it’s to follow Roberts’ Rules of Order, not to a ridiculously boring level, but in a way that offers structure to the organization and just getting up the web site. The web site is another example of something that has been talked about, but was never done. In going through the archives, we have found minutes from meetings where they talked about getting a site up in the early and mid-90’s, but that is all they did. They never got it up. It is simply a matter of just getting things done.
One of the things that we are going to do in terms of external growth, is go to the leaders of the Republican Party at both the County and State levels and say, “what is that we can do for you and what can we do to work together to better run a functioning club and help the Republican Party?”
These are one of the fundamental things that we need to do.
Also, on the State and National YR level, where we helped form both such organizations, we need to do more. We have in recent times sent one or two people to meetings. For an organization that helped found the State YR organization, I think that is abominable. That is something that we are striving for to change. The third thing in external growth is our presence in the city as a whole. As some of you may or may not know, there is another New York Young Republican Club. We are the group that is recognized by County and State Committee. However, whenever a reporter wants an opinion from a Young Republican, they turn to them. Whenever articles or op-eds are written, they don’t go to this club; they go to the other club. So, at the broader level, we were not players. We are moving in the right direction in terms of letting the press know that we are on the block as well. The last thing deals with charitable work. We need to change the image of the Republican Party in NYC as not an image of people who, as you may remember from the speech on August 30th, view us as a bunch of poodle kickers, but that we actually do have a heart, do care about the society as a whole. This is the platform that we ran on as a ticket. But what have we done to achieve these goals, you may ask?
Membership: Membership has gone from around twenty members to where it exists now at about 57. I think that is pretty good considering all that we have done is the word of mouth campaign. Myself, Kimberly, Dennis, Terrence, and some of you in the audience have gone to Federalist Society meeting, Log Cabin Republican meetings and we have told them about the club, told them about the rebirth of this organization and that is how we have gotten some people to join. As you have seen now, we have a very professional looking pamphlet, so that we are not handing someone a simple piece of paper. This is the professionalism that we have promised to bring to this organization and that I believe we have done on this level. We have built up a membership email list of over 200 names. On August 30th, we were not given any lists. The only lists we had were the people that present at that meeting. It makes this achievement remarkable. On the next point of getting some money in the coffers. What is the value of an organization; if it cannot do any of the activities that it would like to do. We can all have the greatest ideas in the world, but that is not going to accomplish anything, unless we have the means to pay for those ideas. So one of the things that we have focused on is doing some fundraising for this organization. Not going out to county and state leaders with a tin cup, but actually doing something on our own. We held a fundraiser, which I believe was the first fundraiser that this organization has held in years. It was wildly successful in that almost 80 people attended and we netted over $1500 for this club. Most of the events that I have seen from other YR groups have been net losses. We did an event in Jacksonville Florida, where we were able to raise even more money for the club. That is why we have been able to go from having around $700 to $3,800 and that is going to continue to rise. This year marks the 90th anniversary of our incorporation. It’s not the 90th anniversary of our founding, but unfortunately, nothing was done last year to celebrate that. So celebrating the incorporation is a nice little thing. That being said, we have gone through the archives and pulled some of the names that I have mentioned tonight. Through Internet searches, we have reached out to a few of them. We have sat down with some prominent contributors to the Republican Party in NYC to talk about getting involved in the club. Where is that going to lead us? I am proud to announce that in the Spring we will be having an alumni dinner, where you are going see people who were members of this club, who ran things in the 60’s, 70’s, etc. and people who may have never been members of this club, but are taking an interest in what we are doing and the message that we are bringing across. You are going to see these people at this dinner and it is not something that we are just talking about, but actually doing and that is about the most important thing for any organization, it is not about what you say, but the actions that you take after the rhetoric that comes.
Finally I want to talk about where this club is going in terms of charitable work. As some of you may know, we have adopted a firehouse in the South Bronx. We have brought them food; we have raised some money for them. At the event we had we raised $800 for the Firefighters Widows and Orphans Fund. So that is something that we have done in terms of extenuating our charitable cause efforts. A number of you will be accompanying me to a WTC fundraiser for a local firehouse here. We have done the Teddy Bear Brigade, where we got YR’s from MA with no direct ties to NYS or NYC to get us 200 bears, and we got a bus donated to us and we gave them out to hospitals across the city. We have spread the message that the perceived image of Republicans is false. We are not some hobgoblins who are going to go creeping up and scare you in the middle of the night. We are actually people and our whole philosophy as Republicans is not just spewing out rhetoric, but actually showing some action in deeds. That is exactly what we have done as an organization and that is something that we are going to continue to do.
We are really proud of the work that we have done so far in this short period of time since August 30th. A lot have experienced a lot in this last year. I don’t think that I have to go into the events of September 11th, but I think that what happened on September 11th, made us all review, look inside ourselves, and try to see “what do I want out of myself”? “What can I give”? I hope that a lot of you have said to yourselves, “what can I give to the society”. What are we offering here? We are offering you the opportunity to do something for society, to want better government. Joining our club will help elect better politicians, Republicans of course, who believe in such crazy notions as integrity and character. We are also the ones who are going to do something non-partisan such as taking part in charitable activities. We are going to go to some organizations and see how we are going to help out. How can we better spread your message? These are some of the things that I believe that this club can offer you. Myself, my ticket, can up with a lot of crazy promises and notion when we ran on August 30th, but I hope that we have shown that those were not crazy concepts and ideas. That those are in fact things that are very doable for our organization, which is a volunteer based and none of us are getting paid for our activities. With that I would like to thank all of you coming here. I would like to thank all of you for listening to me prattle on all night. I would like to encourage you all to pay your dues if you have not already done so and welcome to the New York Young Republicans.