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Letter to membership 5/21/07 ending TORCH affiliation

Dear TORCH Members:

Our 2006-2007 school year is winding down and my first year in
leadership of our group has been a blessing! I have valued the
support from the rest of the board and the entire membership while I
dove in head first hoping to swim, not sink. As I thought of the
responsibilities of the first year, I knew it was important to at
least make sure the group that had been so carefully nurtured by
those before me would be able to continue providing the Catholic,
organized, mutually supportive structure that had benefited families
over the years. In other words, my prayer was "Lord, don't let me
mess up a good thing!"

With everyone's help I think we have had a terrific year! Group
activities were well attended, new friendships were built, new doors
were opened to us (Our Lady of Lourdes!), we were blessed by a new
Bishop who wants to get to know us, and membership grew (both from
newcomers, new homeschoolers, and new births!).

Each year-end comes with a sigh of relief and…. a picnic! June 3rd,
3pm at Baileywick Park will be a great chance to celebrate the
beginning of summer. However, its never too early to look forward to
the next year. We have some changes ahead for our group… but you can
all relax! I am going to keep my commitment to 2 years as group
coordinator and as an additional blessing Toni Onks, Jennifer
D'Andrea and Missy Savage will remain on the board also.

A significant but very positive change that will affect both Raleigh
and Cary groups is the decision by both the leadership teams to end
our affiliation with the National TORCH organization as member
chapters. This decision is based on responsible stewardship of group
funds. Each year out of our $25 annual dues, $12 is sent directly to
TORCH National. Over the last few years, the role of TORCH National
and the benefit of our affiliation with it has been diminished. In
years past, National sent out 11 newsletters annually, provided
training for leadership, issued membership cards, provided group
insurance, and maintained a website with helpful, current information
on Catholic homeschooling with links to our local chapters. Attempts
of late to contact National have gone without reply. Insurance
coverage, previously a compelling reason to join TORCH, was stopped
several years ago(though the website, when last checked, still
falsely lists it as a benefit). We've received no newsletters for the
past two years, and the website provides limited assistance to those
seeking information on Catholic homeschooling since it is out of date
and lists dead links and old contacts. The consensus was that being a
chapter of the National TORCH organization brought no real benefit to
our member families and, in fact, was detrimental to our ability to
provide other services to our families because of the large
percentage of dues paid to National each year.

There were several concerns that surfaced as a result of that
decision. Our first concern was maintaining the truly Roman Catholic
nature of our group. We assure you that we will continue this
identity in all our literature and actions even though we are
dropping the TORCH title. Additionally the behavior guidelines that
assured our membership practiced courtesy and personal responsibility
in all our actions will also remain.

Another concern was money. After discussing this with Jill Ruvidich,
who is taking on the coordinator's job in Cary, and our board, it was
decided that we would maintain the same dues - $25 for one chapter,
$38 for both. The excess funds that in the past would have been
mailed to National will be available to sponsor additional activities
and benefits to our families locally. For example, we could provide
speakers to parents and/or children, offer small retreats, build up
our tape library and assist with functions like the Bishop's Mass. We
are open to suggestions for other local activities which could
benefit our membership. Local membership cards will be issued for
discounts and identification.

Our next concern was a new name, since the "TORCH" name is for
chapters paying national dues. We would like solicit your ideas to
come up with a new name. The leadership teams from Raleigh and Cary
will make the final decision out of all the ideas submitted. Our
deadline for a new name is June 1st, so time is limited. Please
submit ideas via email at chenion@nc.rr.com or you can call me 919-
649-7667. Both groups will share the new name and keep our Chapter
patrons- Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament for Cary and Pope
John Paul the Great for Raleigh. At the same time, our Yahoo! Group
name will change. This change is fairly simple and handled in house.
No one will have to re-subscribe and we won't lose any of our files
or archived messages.

In addition, we can continue to have the HSLDA (Home School Legal
Defense Association) discount as long as our homeshooling group (Cary
and Raleigh combined) has at least 10 paying members of HSLDA.
Please let me know if you belong to HSLDA and we can determine if we
meet this criteria. I do not think this will be an issue for us so
our discount should be available. If you would like to join HSLDA,
please visit their website at www.hslda.org for the appropriate
forms. In addition, although we haven't had group insurance for the
past few years, we could look into this somewhat costly option
through HSLDA if we deemed it necessary.

This is a big change for us, but I truly believe it is a change for
the better. We have a great group! We have Picnics, First Fridays,
All Saints Celebration, Christmas Craft Fair, Spelling Bee, Science
Fair, Co-op classes, local field trips and so much more. All of our
great events are due to local efforts, local families, and local
parish hospitality. Although the name will change, I think we will
only be stronger next year with additional activities and benefits.
And, we are still going to maintain our close relationship with the
Cary group.

Please thank God for a successful year as it comes to a close and
pray for God's guidance as we make next year even better!
J.M.J.
Colleen Henion
 

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