by Ron Levesque
In the fall of 2018, President Bill Jacobs invited Susan Yuen to lunch in Japan Town and included board officials Walter Soellner and yours truly Ron Levesque. Bill had known Susan from her time working in the AFT 6157 office on the SJCC campus. By 2018, Susan had founded her own business in web design and Bill thought that AFT 6157R needed assistance initially with our membership outreach. In those days, members were contacted individually by mail with a call for dues payment and an invitation to a membership meeting. This involved lots of paper handling as over 100 envelopes were mailed out twice a year. This was quite a bit of labor for us over several days. We met Susan over lunch and invited her to work for us to facilitate these mailings and she agreed after the tasks were identified and her compensation was approved. Initially, Susan secured the paper supplies we needed, labels, and postage and blank envelopes and envelopes with return postage.
Within weeks, we on the Board began discussing plans to modernize our operations, and none of us was very adept at using computers and programs as Susan was. Bill asked her for an estimate for designing a website for us, establishing a membership database, and creating a listserv to allow for speedy email communication with retirees. Bill also envisioned having a newsletter, which he wanted to produce monthly. Susan would also offer us training, which appealed to us, and by the end of 2018, AFT 6157R had committed to an arrangement with Yuen Designs, in which Susan offered us a lower legacy rate of $50 an hour. This was quite a deal and AFT 6157R began to transform the way we ran the Retiree Chapter.
Still, despite Susan’s training, we officers preferred to delegate work to her rather than spend the time taking on some of the tasks. Did we allow ourselves to be enabled and served and become too dependent on Yuen Designs performing the tasks we could have taken on? Now five years later in 2023, Susan has decided that with an assistant in her employ, she wants to focus on web design and grow her company largely full time in this area. She believes that many of our tasks can be easily managed by us in AFT 6157R, and she is willing to help us make this transition. I believe that with a fair sharing of the responsibilities, our board can indeed assume more of the communications we engage in. This will also be more economical.
I want to take some time to explain the work that Yuen Designs has done for us.
Once Susan worked with me to create a membership database in Xcel, I would send her any updates in membership information that I received along with mailed dues checks. Then Susan became our facilitator of email communications to retirees. We asked her to call for dues to be mailed in and we replaced the old letter, envelope, and postage labor by the end of 2019. Also, her communications involved meeting announcements/agendas, flyers, reminders to pay dues, general announcements and eventually hosting Zoom meetings during the pandemic. Officers usually drafted and edited the text, which we then sent to Susan.
Throughout 2019, the board worked with Susan to design a newsletter, which would be published twice a year. The inaugural edition came out in fall of 2019. It often fell to me, a former English/ESL teacher, to curate each edition and edit the contents before they were sent to Susan, who begged for photos and visuals to create an appealing newsletter, which we emailed to all retirees.
Then Yuen Designs also created a website for us at www.aft6157r.org where Yuen posted our newsletters and important documents and information. In time, Susan created a PayPal link at the website which over time more retirees use to easily submit dues. Susan helped me establish the PayPal Account, which I can manage to send dues directly to the bank account. PayPal can communicate with me at my home email and at our AFT Gmail account, which Susan set up, email@example.com.
Yuen Designs also helped design and create the award certificates we recently gave to our four founders.
Yuen Designs has really made our chapter more effective, productive, and efficient. We the Board of 2023, offer our deepest thanks to Yuen Designs and wish them only the best of everything as they grow into 2024!