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I Can't Find My Membership Card

Submitted by Carole Patterson

Ever heard that plaintive cry? I certainly have - too frequently from members all across the country. Okay, I'll admit it, I spoil the heck out of my club members. However, I've found it saves me a whole lot of headaches in the long run. I've been secretary/treasurer of my member club since its inception (I mean, why change if you've found a sucker willing to take care of all this stuff), and have developed some methods over the years to save a lot of time, stress and money when it comes to the membership cards.

Here's what I do as club secretary as soon as the membership cards arrive. I photocopy all of them. Four copies, grouping as many on a page as possible. Two of the sets I cut apart so that each club member has two copies of his/her membership card, in addition to the original from Germany. Understand, those photocopies are as valid as the original and I threaten my members with death if they EVER turn in their original card to the trial chairman of any trial when they submit their trial entry form. It's not necessary and is just asking to have that original membership card lost in the paper shuffle that accompanies any and all trials. One thing I do probably isn't necessary, but I do it anyway. I laminate each card with those sheets of laminating stuff you can buy at any office supply store. That insures that they won't get torn up, grease spotted, etc. It does not, however, insure that they won't get lost.

I put the original and two copies in an envelope along with a form letter telling them when they'll need to present their cards (trial entry and so on), suggesting they put the original somewhere safe. I keep the other two sets of photocopies in my own personal club file. When my club holds a trial, I stick one full set into the trial notebook and simply have them available for the judge to check, which then makes it unnecessary for any member to turn in even a photocopy with the trial entry form. By having two extra sets of copies of the cards, even if a member loses ALL of his or her membership cards, I still have a set to either copy again or to cut apart and give the member one more copy. And don't think losing all of those copies and the original can't happen. One of my members cleaned out her car at the car wash on the same day I distributed the envelopes and sure enough, she pitched the envelope in the trash. Kaput!

Now, everyone seems to think it's impossible to photocopy the cards when they are the dark colors, such as this year with the black type on the dark red background. Not a problem, believe me. Go to Kinko's or anyplace where they have a really good copy machine. The good ones will have a "Photo" setting under "Original". Punch the photo setting and go to the lightest density level and run your copies. They'll come out just fine, I promise.

If you, as an individual member, don't have a club secretary dumb enough to take all of these precautions, then do it yourself with your own personal card. Do you have ANY idea what a hassle it is to obtain a replacement membership card? You have to pay for the replacement card. You have to contact Germany, give them a credit card number, give them your membership number, admit you've been so irresponsible as to lose your membership card and then pay around $15 or so to get a replacement. Not fun, plus the time when you're most likely to realize that your card is missing is probably right before you're entering a trial. And technically, you can be denied entry into any trial if you can't prove current valid membership status in DVG.

There is a way around that, also, should you not have made your copies and do discover that your membership card has gone south on you. Assuming that your membership in your club was valid as of the first of the year, your club president received a full printout of all those holding valid club membership as of the first of the calendar year that will include your name on the list. This printout list is sent from the DVG office along with the membership cards for each club member. That printout list is as valid as your membership card to prove that you're a member. In a real pinch, you can ask for a photocopy of the list to take with you if you're entering a trial away from your home club. If you're entering you own club's trial, you can ask that the judge be shown the printout list that confirms your membership so that you can enter the trial. But do you see how important it is to take responsible precautions with your card? It's not a big deal. Most of you make photocopies at least once a week or so, so make a few copies of your own membership card. Or you could promise to take your club secretary out to dinner if he or she will do all this stuff for the club members. But get those copies made and don't get caught at the last minute without a way to prove your current membership. Another suggestion to dub officers, whether the president or the secretary or whoever, is that a few copies ARE made of that first of the year membership printout list, just to have on hand.

To those of you who join later in the year, it becomes even more critical that you immediately make copies of your membership card. Your name won't be on the original beginning of the year printout from Germany, so if you lose your membership card, you're SOL. The minute you receive it, get some copies made, put the original in a safe place and you're ready to go.

It's not difficult to be ready at any time to enter a trial, order a scorebook or anything else that requires your membership number. You only need to think ahead and keep a good file somewhere with your scorebook and membership information. Do that and it will make life so much easier for your trial chairman and your judge - as well as yourself.

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