President's Blog- Mattie and a Plea for Help

Sometimes you’re involved in something so special that every other memory, regardless of how special, doesn’t quite measure up. After watching Mattie Magill, the 10 year old MEPA performer fighting leukemia find the energy to perform after spending the week in the hospital, I was incredibly touched. I’ve had to muster the courage to take on adversity in my life but nothing like Mattie. If this young lady can take on something like this, what can each of us do in our own lives to fight a battle we didn’t think we could win?

Although the numbers aren’t in yet, I’m happy to say that those who attended the 2012 MEPA Championships helped us to raise a substantial amount of money to help Mattie and her family fight her battle. Thanks to all of you.

2012 Championship Event

Now, on to the event. Hopefully you were able to attend the 2012 MEPA Championships at Wright State’s Nutter Center. The quality of the performances were some of the highest in recent years, according to judges and the event is the culmination of a massive undertaking by a team of volunteers. More than 2,000 e-mails were exchanged to make this event successful and thousands of hours of rehearsal were logged to put on a great show over the weekend.

We Need Help

If it sounds like there is a “but” in there, you’re right. I’m concerned for the future of MEPA. We’ve always been an organization that prides itself on being volunteer ran. With only one part time employee, a dedicated team of volunteers organizes the entire season. By using volunteers made up of the board of directors as well as people from each member performing group to work championships, MEPA is able to keep costs reasonable.

Finding volunteers is becoming increasingly difficult. I’ve served in volunteer roles at church, school, and other organizations and I can tell you that MEPA is not alone. Only 32% of our member groups were able to find volunteers to help at MEPA championships and the MEPA board of directors will have eight positions with expiring terms this year.

The current volunteers are maxed out. Because of vacancies on our board, some of our current volunteers donate more than 40 hours during the competition season. That’s simply too much to ask of somebody for six out of twelve months of the year. That, along with their full time job must certainly impact the volunteers' family lives and we should not expect them to commit these kinds of hours.

MEPA is faced with two choices: Either we find volunteers to help or we have to transition to more paid workers, costing the membership more in dues. Can you imagine if you had to pay something closer to WGI rates to participate in MEPA?

Good News

The good news is this: I know that you’re out there. There are people who have the spirit of volunteerism who would love to use their talent to help the 1,000+ young people who perform in the MEPA circuit. You don’t need to be accomplished in the activity. You just need to have some time and the desire to lend a hand. We only need a few people to slash those 40 hour volunteer weeks down to something much more sustainable. Some of our jobs would only need a few hours during the competition season.

Can you help? We have board seats open as well as other jobs that just about anybody can handle.

Bottom Line

I’ve been on the other side reading letters like this. Often the alarm is sounded but nothing ever happens but this is a problem that has been developing for a few years and now it’s at critical levels. If we don’t come together as a circuit and understand that we all have to pitch in, things will change as early as next year. MEPA may be forced to operate like the airlines: less service at higher cost. You can’t wait for somebody else to step in.

What can you do to help? Contact me at and let me know.

Thanks for another great MEPA season!


Tim Parker

President- MEPA