IN THE BEGINNING
The North American Sea Glass Association began as an idea whose time had come simultaneously on both coasts by several people with a passion for sea glass. The two individuals who were largely responsible for getting the NASGA ball rolling were Charles Peden on the West Coast and Richard LaMotte on the East Coast. Chance brought them together and from their earliest collaborations, the North American Sea Glass Association inched its way onto the national scene as a means by which those passionately involved with sea glass, either as their life’s work or favorite pastime, could meet and share their knowledge and experience and sea glass discoveries with each other.
THE GENUINE ARTICLE
From the very beginning, issues surrounding the buying and selling of genuine sea glass and the development of criteria by which to distinguish genuine sea glass from artificially created sea glass were crucial to the mission of the organization. But one of the difficulties in establishing ethical guidelines arose from the realization that NASGA would have to deal with the very important question of “Who are the experts?” Since no one out there had heretofore established him or herself as the go-to source for sea glass, LaMotte and Peden gathered a group of knowledgeable sea glass enthusiasts who, together, might constitute a gathering of experts, so to speak.
WHO COULD HELP
Using what information was available to them on the internet, about fourteen known collectors and artisans from all around North America were invited to help form an organization whose combined wisdom might contribute to the world’s knowledge of sea glass. Ten of the fourteen were willing and able to comprise the first board of directors of NASGA and they were, in addition to Charles and Richard, Teri Reed and Jennifer Reed, Lisa Hall, Sharon Umbaugh, Linda Jereb, Mary Beth Beuke, and Cindy Kuhn.
Charles began the building of NASGA’s website and its first pages. He also, along with Richard, Mary Beth and a few others, began contributing to the content with a commitment to the collecting public, to sea glass education, and to helping differentiate artificial from genuine sea glass. A mission statement was written, a code of ethics established, and the beginnings of getting the first annual national sea glass festival off the ground began.
With the first festival just months around the corner, a labor force and funding was needed. Charles called upon those who gravitated to this nascent organization to collaborate, brainstorm, research, edit and financially support in whatever way they could.
A membership was offered through the website and funds were collected. Also, throughout the first year, a gradual base of Commercial Members joined and paid the first dues which went directly toward web design fees and upkeep. Richard helped to compile and print the first Shorelines newsletter and the first festival posters. Charles and Lindsay Furber helped to ship them out.
Just before the First Annual North American Sea Glass Festival however, Charles shared with the volunteer board that he’d felt the urge to work in another profession and made it clear that he’d no longer be able to serve on the NASGA board.
Since much time and energy had already been invested into the festival endeavor, it was decided the event must go on though NASGA had no operating funds at this time. All monies for rental of the space, advertising and logistics required money to secure, and these were put up by that early group of volunteer board members who had faith that a national festival would be enthusiastically welcomed. If you build it they will come! No commercial membership fees or general membership fees underwrote the first festival. It was done on a shoestring budget by those first few volunteers who believed in the organization and supported it with their personal finances, time and energies. It was a very successful event with collectors attending from all over North America and from overseas. It quickly became very clear that the NASGA was already reaching the world of sea glass collectors.
Coming off such a positive event, the very next board meeting was dedicated to organizing the NASGA structure to accommodate the growth and to designate specific roles for board members. So, formal nominations were taken for 2007 officers and board members; our first election! Mary Beth was elected President, Richard LaMotte, Vice President, Linda Mickevicius, Treasurer and Sharon Umbaugh, Secretary. The five other board members were Gary DeBlois, Lisa Hall, Linda Jereb, Jennifer and Teri Reed and Cindy Kuhn. At this first national event it was agreed by the board to establish NASGA as a “non-profit” organization.
COMMITMENTS AND MISSION
A regular board meeting schedule was set and bookkeeping was turned over to the treasurer Linda M. NASGA was registered as a non-profit organization with the mission of serving sea glass collecting community and making a commitment to shoreline restoration. Sharon began keeping meeting minutes as well as an email database of all the NASGA contacts. A new web designer was found to help keep the site updated.
KEEPING THE CODE
It was at this time that the liability of keeping a feasible Code of Ethics be considered. With the issue of artificial, frosted glass product being often sold as ocean tumbled sea glass, the board renewed its commitment to functioning as an educational group as opposed to legislative group. With thousands of buyers and sellers in the world, the NASGA volunteers would neither have the time nor the legal qualifications to go between parties disputing artistic design issues or the “genuine” issue. Positive steps like the Genuine vs. Artificial pages on the website were freshened up so that the general public could be cautioned and educated. Several members volunteered to send out the first NASGA mailing with posters, a “Genuine vs. Artificial” placard, thank you letters and a sample of real vs. tumbled glass to all who donated start up investments.
BYLAWS AND TERM LIMITS
The board voted on a set of by-laws that were written with 2-year term limits set when a board member could be re-elected to office. This enables NASGA to invite new volunteers to serve and helps to rotate off, those who have served faithfully and at length.
Shoreline Restoration: As a nonprofit organization NASGA is committed to annual donations to Shoreline Preservation organizations. In 2008 NASGA donated $2,500 to The Ocean Conservancy and $1,500 to Cape Henlopen State Park. We actively seek suggestions regarding organizations to send donations.
None of the board members, commercial members or executive committee is compensated for their work on behalf of the organization. The financial success of the first festival has allowed NASGA to now hire outside service providers in order to reduce demands on volunteers who could no longer afford to give of so much of their time. The organization is deeply grateful to the unsung heroes who manage the accounting, the newsletter, the festivals, the data bases, the commercial membership, the communication, the shoreline restoration work and more.
Respectfully compiled by the team of: Richard LaMotte, Sharon Umbaugh, Cindy Kuhn, Mary Beth Beuke, Linda Mickevicius, Lisa Hall, and Jennifer Reed.