Another president of the Utah Genealogical Association will be voted in at our board meeting tomorrow night. As I come to the end of my term as president of UGA I’ve had some time for reflection. I’ve been so privileged to be able to serve as president of this great organization. I’m lucky to be the president who has been able to actually serve longer than the maximum 2 years—because of the change in our fiscal year last year, I’ve been able to serve 27 months. It has been a joy. I believe strongly in what UGA is trying to accomplish and every minute I’ve spent serving here has been a great blessing to me. As I wrote about in my last president’s message for UGA's Crossroads Magazine, I’d like to tell you how UGA has blessed my life and why I’m so thankful to have been able to serve as the president.
1) I’ve broadened my circle in genealogy. When I first became active in UGA, I was constantly amazed at how many people I didn’t know who worked in the field of genealogy. I had been going to genealogy conferences, speaking, and running a company for eight years and I thought I really knew a lot of people in our community. But I found that there are several circles in this community that don’t see much of each other. There are the professional genealogists and librarians, the FamilySearch employees, the Ancestry employees, the conference goers, the FamilySearch Center volunteers, the vendors, the hobbyists and the zealots, people inside and outside of Utah who all get to brush shoulders in the activities that UGA sponsors. I’ve gotten to know a myriad of people who I probably wouldn’t have run into otherwise and they have enriched my life and my research immensely.
2) I’ve made dear, dear friends. Many of the people I’ve worked closely with have become lifelong friends who I turn to when I need support and who know that they will always find support from me. It is such a blessing to have good friends who are as passionate about family history as I am. My neighbors don’t always understand my passion, but through UGA I’ve found a network of people who get it. They know the soul satisfying journey of finding out where you are from and I’ve been so privileged to be able to share that journey with them.
3) I’ve become a better genealogist. The resources that UGA sponsors are tremendous. We had an amazing week at SLIG this year, as we always do, and it always blows my socks off what I didn’t know. The Virtual Chapter has been a great resource to our community, and the various other conferences and events UGA holds always teach me something new. Our conference next weekend is slated to be another world class education opportunity. Committee meetings and emails back and forth with volunteers have even taught me amazing things that have helped my research. The more active you become in UGA, the more brick walls will just seem like research you didn’t know how to do. I promise.
4) I’ve had an opportunity for service. It is very easy in today’s fast world to become concerned only about your own world and how things affect you. Volunteer service is important to help you become less selfish, to be able to clearly see the needs of other people, and to keep a broad perspective on things. I love this quote by George Bernard Shaw :
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of being a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no 'brief candle' to me. It is a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
I really think my service in UGA has softened my heart, helped me see areas of myself that need improvement and helped me care more about my fellow man. My time in UGA has been a refining experience and I am better for it. Some might ask if spending untold hours working for UGA might have been better spent on something else—perhaps something that would bring in income. I’ve spent much of my time at UGA actually paying employees for doing things I should be doing. But I honestly feel that the sacrifice of my time here has brought great blessings into my family, my company, and my life. And I am very thankful for that.
So while I'll have more time for blogging again, I know I will continue to take full advantage of all the great education resources UGA offers. And I hope to see you there as well.