From the President's Desk - July 2018
July 2, 2018
Hello Shipmates and other interested readers.
It's been a good long time since I wrote to the Association membership to update them on what has been happening. I don't want to make excuses, but I was pretty much down and out of commission for 2017 and through March of this year. Now I'm feeling much better, so it's time to get you up to date on what's been happening since my last message after the 2016 Reunion Cruise.
Let's start out with a major accomplishment we completed in late December 2017. We have been working on this since the new board was elected in 2014, and it became even more pressing when our original volunteer webmaster informed me that he could no longer support our website and would like us to find a new way to host our site. This evolved into creating an entirely new site. The board approved the cost associated with developing and hosting our new site and after several months of work on the development, the website was finished, tested and opened up for the world to see. Almost immediately after our new website became active, a few of you were very quick to jump on and make your annual donation. Let me say thank you to all those that have made contributions already. Anyone that paid in December, we applied those to 2018 whether that was your intent or not (I made a few more comments regarding donations and the donation links on the website at the end of this website news section).
To those members that provided feedback about the new website and the payment process, another big thank you. We can't make improvements if we can't identify a problem. The board and I try to road test it before we publish changes, but we don't always catch the small things or stuff people browsing may click on that results in unexpected behavior. Increased usage of the website hopefully means more feedback that will result in a better site. So don’t be strangers to the website. Remember, just because you are a member of the Association Facebook page does not equate to Association membership or full Association website access. You must complete the membership application on the website.
Thanks again to Lee Allison for all your work in developing, hosting, operating and maintain our original website for those first 7 years of the Association’s existence. Now we move forward into the future with our new site, new members, and a prosperous and growing Association.
When you make your annual donation, we really do want to send a little package to you with some Association and/or Paul F. Foster related items, but unless you complete your membership page and provide all of the information required/requested, we can't send it to you. When you make a payment, your information is emailed to us, and if your profile is not complete, guess what? We get a blank or incomplete notice that a donation was made but no way to readily contact or send anything. The personal information includes your real name, mailing address and other information pertinent to the Association and the business we conduct. Rest assured, we DO NOT and NEVER WILL willingly sell, give away or otherwise disclose your information. For example, we receive requests from people asking about a member or if someone is a member. We do not reply with any information unless we first contact the member and confirm that it is OK to provide the requestor with the information they asked for. When your membership record is not complete, it becomes very difficult to do this and we may be losing new members because they feel we aren't paying attention or don't care about them or that the member they were looking for is not really a member, so they don’t join us and make themselves known to the Association. Additionally, we are trying to keep the membership database clean and up to date as possible. With our new filtering and required entries in the user profile, it is possible that your account could accidentally be deleted due to the lack of info in the profile. So for the Association's and your benefit, it is really helpful if everyone logs into the site and completes or updates their member information. If you forgot your password, there is an easy way to change it using the “Recover Account” link on the log in page. I can't stress enough how important this user profile information is to the Association, so I ask you again to please log into to our website at: https://www.usspaulffoster.org , check and if necessary, update your profile. By the way, if you receive multiple copies of this message in your email, you have multiple accounts registered on our website. Please select one and delete the other or let me know which one you want to delete. It’s hard to maintain accurate membership numbers when there are multiple accounts for the same individual.
As I mentioned earlier, regarding donations, here is what I want you to know and be aware of.
You may think of these annual contributions as dues, but legally, according to the IRS, we can't really call them dues. Dues relate to required monies in order to be a member. Our Association does not require dues to be a member. If you wish to vote on things at a reunion or other general membership meeting, or hold office in the Association, then you are required to annually contribute $25 to the Association. I'm not ready to battle the IRS on this, so I will continue to say "donations" as will our website. When you are on the website, you will see many references to "donations". Use one of those links when you want to make your annual donation, contribution or extra donation to the Association. There is a link for contributions above and beyond the requested $25.00 membership donation if you do wish to contribute more at another time. Remember, you can also contribute by using a check. Make your check out to the USS Paul F. Foster Association and mail it to:
USS Paul F. Foster Association
3449 Tropicaire Blvd
North Port, FL 34286
And that my friends is all I will say about donations and user profiles!
How about a word about the Ship’s Store in our website? Many of you have seen and visited the ship’s store and many have made a purchase of the custom created Challenge Coin. Right now, this is the only item for sale. The price is $25 to cover our costs including shipping. Just so everyone is in the know, the first batch was donated to the Association by our shipmate, ONeal Suire and sold out quickly. Thank you again ONeal for your very generous donations to the Association. They are greatly appreciated!
Soon, we will make available canvas prints of the 2016 reunion grand prize painting of our ship in action during Desert Storm that was won by Doug Fussell. Doug had a professional photographer come to his house to take a “perfect” photo image of the painting for us to use to make these prints. It has been a long time in trying to find a printer that would work with us at reasonable prices so that we can make these prints available to our members at similarly reasonable prices, as in less than $100 per print. We are looking to make 2 sizes available, a 12” x 18” and a 16” x 24”. I have purchased several of these and the one that looks the best and still has a reasonable price is the one I am trying to get the best “bulk deal” on. Let me tell you, it looks awesome! I have a copy of the smaller print, and although it too is very good looking, it just doesn’t have the impact of the larger one. So keep an eye out for these in the store.
A few special items I am considering offering for sale are a very limited number of the specially engraved, multi-tip, ratcheting screwdrivers we gave to members at the 2016 reunion and have been giving away to a quarterly winner drawn from members who have made their annual contributions to the Association. So if you really want one, it might be possible to get one without having to win a lottery to get it. We also may have available for sale, some engraved, 8 piece screwdriver sets. Finally, for those of you mechanically inclined or just like to collect ship related items, I also have a very few, engraved combination wrench sets, both metric and standard. We will probably do these in a lottery type drawing rather than try to sell them. The prices on all of these engraved items may seem a bit high, but the price does include shipping costs which always seem to be going higher. We’re also working on sourcing some ship’s lighters. Not sure if we can pull this one off or not, but keep an eye on the store. As I’m sure you already know, all proceeds from store sales go straight into the Association’s bank account to help keep us financially sound.
Other News or Not So New News
A brief reminder about some of the By-Law changes made at the last reunion in 2016. Board member terms were lengthened to either three or four years to coincide with the change to General Reunions occurring every three years instead of two years. General Reunion scheduling may extend to a maximum of four years if we are trying to schedule one with a ship visit. Ship visits must be coordinated with the Navy and ship’s schedule. This is not always a slam dunk. We cannot just pick a date and expect the ship to be made available to us. Thankfully, both the Navy and the ship’s command are very willing to work with us to coordinate a date and time but they are not able to forecast very far into the future.
This brings me to the next reunion, currently scheduled for 2019. We are aiming at holding the 2019 reunion at a time and place where we can have access to the ship as we have done in the past. Our desire is to hold it during the third quarter of 2019, meaning sometime in the July – September timeframe, but this is, of course, subject to change. As we are able to get information from the ship on availability and make firmer plans, we will pass it along. Remember, ship schedules are classified information.
Prior to the next reunion, I ask all contributing currently paid members to give serious consideration to what you can do to aid and assist the Association by volunteering your time to serve as an elected board member or in other Presidential appointed positions or offering advice, information or articles to publish about the USS Paul F. Foster or your time aboard that crew members would relate to or find interesting. No classified into please! These would be published in a designated area on the website for all to see and help to raise more interest in the Association from members who have not joined. When I was elected, my main goal was to raise contributing membership numbers to ensure this Association would survive. The more paying members, the better off the Association will be as will the effort to “Save the Ship” once the Navy is done with it. I don’t know about you, but I think it was an absolutely huuuuge mistake to dispose of these ships so soon. Twenty years may seem a long time but these Spru cans had a lot of life and capacity for improvements and add-ons left in them. Just look at our great ship, the ex-USS PAUL F. FOSTER! So the last thing I want to see is the Foster sent to the bottom after other newer and lesser ships get to use it for target practice. Help us build this Association’s membership. There has to be thousands of shipmates that served honorably aboard the Foster alone not to mention crews of the other 29 ships in this class.
An idea for finding members or raising interest in our Association. Wear your Foster hats, T-shirts, belt buckles or whatever you may have when you go out. I met a Navy vet who happened to serve on the USS Pelelieu stationed in San Diego. He saw my hat while Deb & I were eating dinner at Cracker Barrel in Kenosha as he walked by. I saw him looking at it, then he came back and read it and asked when I was aboard. We spoke briefly and he told us he was the manager of that store and had to run. On another visit, he stopped by again and informed us that he was on the Pelelieu and was very familiar with the Foster. As it turns out, he grew up close to where I grew up and went to the same high school as I did. What was even stranger, when we introduced ourselves finally with full names, he paused and said he thought he knew my name from somewhere. I immediately recognized his last name too, but not him. I asked his dad’s name and when he told me, I said could it be the same Stan I went to high school with? No way. Well he immediately texted his dad and yes, it was! You soon realize that it’s a very small world out there. Now granted, we don’t really cater to Gator Navy crew, but that’s just a little story about what could happen to you when you show your pride in the Foster and spread the word. He has been to our website and told me it looked very impressive, so that made us feel good. I have met many others who know of the Foster and some of her history when wearing my ball cap. Of course, we live very close to Great Lakes Naval Station so there are a lot of Navy people and veterans in the area. But in looking over our membership records, of those that have completed them, we have people scattered all over the country. So be proud to show your colors. You never know who you might run into and what interests you may raise in someone.
Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
Let me close this by thanking all our contributing members for their continuing support as well as our non-contributing members for joining the Association and helping is keep in contact with of more of our fellow crewmembers. The more the merrier applies to this Association. Let’s grow it big and strong!
Also, I’d like to thank those who were aware of my situation last year and offered their support and prayers for me. They were and are all greatly appreciated, and I truly believe (as do a few who worked on me) that the prayers were answered.
USS PAUL F. FOSTER ASSOCIATION