I am Anna Witter-Merithew. I am currently the Interim Executive Director for RID.
I first joined RID back in 1972, which makes it 43 years as a member. Over the years, I’ve been involved in a variety of roles, at the local, state, and national levels. I helped found a chapter. I’ve served on boards, I’ve been a member of various committees, and so forth. I also have been Vice President and President of RID on the National Board.
I grew up in a deaf family, I’ve interacted with the deaf community my whole life, it’s a part of who I am. I became an interpreter in my early 20s. I’ve been involved in the interpreting field in a wide variety of roles – ranging from legal interpreting, to performing arts, oral interpreting, and more.
I’ve been involved in teaching – I first taught at a certificate program, then later an Associates program. I also taught in a Bachelor’s program, and helped to set up two different certificate programs at the graduate level – one specialized in legal interpreting, the other focused on leadership and supervision of interpreting services.
I’ve been involved in helping to train people to become diagnosticians, who assess the work of interpreters, and design a plan for improving their skills. I have been a diagnostician, as well.
I’ve authored a number of curriculums; I’m a published author. I’ve been a program director, a grant director, and more.
The point of me sharing all this is to emphasize that I’ve experienced a lot, and seen our RID go through and face many different challenges. RID has also been able to take advantage of many different opportunities.
As Interim Executive Director, I have a different viewpoint of RID, being immersed in the every day work, I see the challenges and opportunities that face us, and I see how things operate day to day.
The things I see every day help me feel both humbled, and inspired.
I am humbled because in the past as just a member, I would often assume that I knew what RID needed to do to solve specific problems. I made many assumptions. Now that I’m immersed in the organization, I have come to realize that some of my assumptions have not been accurate.
Many of the challenges that are before RID today have been building over time. They’re not new challenges – but rather escalating for quite some time. They’re also not easily resolved. They’re complicated. They require careful analysis, thought, and wisdom, and a commitment to doing the hard work required to find and implement solutions. So, this reality humbles me.
On the other hand, I’m inspired by the many wonderful volunteers, the many wonderful staff who give up their time and work so hard. They work many hours focusing on how to make RID strong, and keep progressing forward. They are all meeting many challenges. These volunteers and staff give me hope, and they inspire me.
Today, we know that RID faces many challenges. However, without reservation, I feel hope – I know that we can persevere through these challenges. To achieve this will require many things, including member commitment and involvement through service, through committee work, through various volunteer contributions towards addressing the challenges before us.
In addition, we can help RID by making financial contributions. This is the main reason for my video message today – to discuss the Legacy Fund.
This is a special fundraiser that I started right before our National Conference. The Legacy Fund is an opportunity for members to show their commitment to RID through making financial contributions. I’ve personally made a contribution of $1,000 for this year, and will do so again every year for a total of five years, for a total contribution of $5,000.
Before the convention, I sent out a letter to a few groups with whom I felt a close affinity. For example, there was the member section of those who are deaf parented. Also to members of the Golden 100, and the Silver 200 – they have a special membership that was created during an RID fundraiser in the 80s In exchange for a substantive donation, their membership dues were waived and remain so. I also sent the letter to current and past board members. And, right before conference, I began sending letters to CDIs and SC:Ls.
I will continue to send out letters. My goal is find 200 people who can make the same level of commitment as me – $1,000. That would result in raising $200,000 for RID this year, and hope that it would continue in the following years, for a five year goal of one million dollars.
But, we do not expect everyone to make a commitment of that level. We understand and respect that people need to follow their hearts, and decide what they can do. We thank you for any contribution to that Legacy Fund. We also are not limiting participation to those that received the letter. Any member may participate.
If you feel ready, and want to make a donation, underneath this video, there will be a transcript of what I’ve signed. Under that there will be a link that will lead you to the form for contributions.
You can give a one-time lump sum, or you can make a monthly contribution. You’ll see a thermometer on the page that will rise as we progress towards our goal of $200,000. We can watch and see how our progress is, and how close we are to achieving our goal.
As I said, you can contribute monthly, or you can give a lump sum payment, it’s your choice.
The fundraising process started right before the recent conference, but we will continue our efforts until the end of December. So, there will be periodic messages going out, more letters will be sent to various members, ultimately to all members. We’ll also be initiating some one-to-one contacts as well.
The Legacy Fund will be placed in a set aside fund for a unique purpose. What is the purpose? Are we seeking to raise funds because RID is broke or there is a fiscal emergency? No. But, RID does have limited financial resources that restrict what we can do.
We seek to raise funds to address specific leadership initiatives. For example – initiatives possibly related to certification, or inclusion. We may use the money to provide the opportunity for some of our Councils to have face-to-face meetings more often. We may be able to hire some staff who can meet focused needs such as advocacy, and to support our volunteer members in their leadership roles, their affiliate chapter work, and so on. The fund will be used for these types of purposes.
I hope that you’ll feel the enthusiasm, and want to join me and be involved in making a contribution. Whether you feel ready now, or sometime between now and December 31 – Thank you!
So, please take some time to think, follow your heart, and do what you feel is right. Thank you for doing that, too.