I am very excited to have the opportunity to be our new President. This isn’t the first time for me; while I had been President for three years prior to Lisa Patterson’s tenure, that feels like a lifetime ago (at least three kids ago anyway) and much has changed in Darnestown.
Let me first thank Lisa for her close to thirteen years of service as President. Lisa—you gave your heart and soul to Darnestown and we appreciate everything you’ve done and accomplished. I also want to thank Chris Collins. Chris stepped in as acting President for the last nine months and did a wonderful job keeping us going. Thanks so much to both of you!
While you may know one of the Mostroms in Darnestown, many of you don’t know me so I’d like to share a little about myself. Our family moved out to Black Rock Road from Rockville when I was 7. I went to Darnestown Elementary and spent summers at the pool, as my own kids do now. It was a great place to grow up—so much so that both of my brothers and I moved back here as soon as we could. One of them, along with my wife Melissa and I, moved back to Black Rock Road where we’re each just a few houses on either side of our folks.
Why am I coming back to the DCA after 13 years? Well, I love Darnestown and believe strongly in the mission of the association and how it helps our residents (even if much of that isn’t in the spotlight) and frankly, the DCA needed volunteers. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the passion, effectiveness, and thoughtful approach of our Board and volunteers, but even they were stretched thin. It was the right time for me to give back and lend another hand.
I come into this position with three simple objectives, which also align with the DCA’s Mission Statement:
- Everyone reading this lives in Darnestown for various reasons, but probably the most important, common reasons are that it’s quiet, we have space, and it’s a great community. Our mission is to protect that. It’s important to remember that we have these things because there is no sewer system in Darnestown—only septic, which limits development and lot sizes, and we have the Ag Reserve with very minimal development to our west helping to protect us.
- Acting as a watchdog and sharing information is one of our biggest roles. The current school boundary redistricting is a great example. Where I think we can improve is in our direct engagement—hearing from you, understanding your perspectives and what you want in Darnestown and from us.
- The DCA strives to foster a close-knit community for our Darnestown residents through events and our communications. Another big focus is to make the association itself as effective as possible—in volunteers, membership, and relationships with residents and local/state officials.
Right now the DCA is doing a very good job in our core services for the community—getting engaged when needed in areas including development and school related issues, hosting social events, publishing our beloved Little Acorn, etc. However, there are some big challenges we face. We need more active volunteers and membership has been declining over the past three years. We’ve discussed the need to better interact with the community—online, in-person, and through our social events. Also, the 20 year Potomac Sub-Region Master Plan will be coming up soon where we need to be engaged; the Master Plan drives zoning and development for our region and the Ag Reserve.
So what are we going to do about it? Several new volunteers have already stepped into active roles—Trustee, webmaster, and revitalizing our Welcome Committee for new residents. We also have close to ten folks interested in working with Rachel Petruccelli, our social chair, to think through planning for a new seminal fall event, the “Darnestown Acorn Festival.”
But there is more to do and we want to take the right approach. Tim Sanders has offered his services and is developing a 1, 3, and 5 year Strategic Plan with the DCA Board. A key piece of this will be getting input from the community on what you want so that we can focus our efforts. Among other things, it will drive how we attempt to increase volunteerism and membership as well as get the right internal systems to manage our operations and community engagement.
So bottom line, we’re taking a fresh approach to how we do things and we want you to be a part of it because we’re here to serve you.
The final thing I want to talk about is membership. Membership in the DCA has always been voluntary and it hasn’t come with specific member benefits. I prefer it that way—the DCA should serve the entire community because that’s what we’re about … “community.” We need to demonstrate our value and we’re continuously working on it. We encourage everyone to become a member because it enables us to be stronger for the community and do more. And our arms are wide open for those who want to volunteer.
Here’s to the future …