Demonstrating Service Not Self, ALA National Headquarters staff are committed to the Auxiliary’s mission of serving veterans, military, and their families. Compared to our 550,000 Auxiliary members, we have a small but mighty Membership Division here at NHQ. They are just a call away if you need any membership assistance! In this issue of Auxiliary, we highlight military spouse, ALA member, and membership coordinator Marti Drake.
How long have you worked at American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters?
Almost four years.
What is your job title and job description at ALA NHQ?
Membership coordinator — I work closely with department secretaries to open and close new charters. I work with unit members as well, helping them with any issues that pop up and taking membership payments over the phone. I also work closely with the national Membership Committee chair with membership awards and weekly reports.
What does a normal workday look like for you?
I reply to emails from departments and unit members looking for assistance mostly with ALAMIS (our national membership database system) or the website. I help new users learn to use ALAMIS.
On average, how many phone calls do you receive in a day? In a week?
During our busy season, we take phone calls every two minutes, taking payments over the phone. During our slow periods, we do a lot of data cleanup in the system databases, which is always a good thing to do.
What influenced you to apply for your position at NHQ?
I used to be the department secretary for Indiana, so I was actually taking a break from work when National reached out to me needing temporary help during their busy season with dues payments, and that led to them asking me to apply for a full-time position that had opened up in the Membership Division.
While applying, did the ALA’s mission resonate with you in any way?
Absolutely. Not only am I the wife of a retired veteran, I’m also the daughter and now the mother of a veteran. My dad served in the U.S. Air Force, and my son is currently serving in the Indiana National Guard. My brothers both served as well, so the love of military runs deep in our family.
How do you help Auxiliary members at all levels of the organization?
We talk to unit members daily in the Membership Division, whether it’s answering questions about their unit or taking their payments. I work with the departments with the charters, setting up ALAMIS users, dues reversals, transfers, as well as all membership awards. I help out our national Membership Committee chair with the Department Leadership National Conference and weekly reporting of how our departments are doing as well.
How has the Membership Division grown since you’ve been at NHQ?
One of the things the COVID-19 pandemic taught us was that we had to become versatile in how we did things. The Membership Division was no different. I think we all worked hard as a team and did a lot of brainstorming. We came up with a lot of great ideas to streamline processes by making more things accessible online than ever before, and to make them more cost effective for the members, departments, and national.
Who made you eligible for ALA membership?
I am a member of eUnit 438 in Indianapolis. My eligibility is through my husband, Bruce, who retired from the U.S. Army after 24 years of service.
What does it mean to be an American Legion Auxiliary member to you?
I’ve seen all the good that the American Legion Auxiliary has done for veterans and their families. When we were active duty, I volunteered a lot, and there really wasn’t a place for me to help soldiers in the civilian world when we retired, so when we found The American Legion, it kind of felt like home for Bruce and me.
How has the ALA shaped your life, personally and professionally?
Personally, I have made some lifelong friends through some of the amazing volunteers I’ve worked with over the past several years. I’ve been able to work with some of our country’s heroes firsthand and listen to their stories, and there is nothing better than that. One of my favorite things I’m involved in is our American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program in Indiana, where I serve on the board for ALA Hoosier Girls State. Watching these young women and how well-spoken and how inspiring they are at such a young age gives me hope for our future. Professionally, I get to work with a wonderful group of people who care about our members and our veterans. The great thing about working in the Membership Division is how much we get to interact with our members and departments all the time.