DeMartino, chair of the Aileen Osofosky Goodwill Committee, shared a story from District 15 Director Phyllis Harlan, who was at her local club waiting for the game to start when someone observed how noisy it was. “It’s the noise of friendship,” Harlan said, according to DeMartino.
There was plenty of that kind of noise among the hundred people at the reception, open to members of the committee, who are appointed in recognition of their exemplifying the spirit of goodwill.
For ACBL Executive Director Joe Jones, goodwill isn’t just something that makes the game more pleasant. It’s a strategy for building membership. “The ultimate factor in attracting and keeping new members is treating people right,” Jones said. “In other words, goodwill.” Without it, newer players are driven away. “We need those players, and goodwill is the way to reach them,” he said.
As representative of the host district, Merlin Vilhauer presented two awards of special recognition for people from District 20 to Tournament Chair Muriel Stitt and Hospitality Chair Marie Ashton.
“Hawaiian bridge players are the friendliest people ever,” Vilhauer said in introducing Stitt.
Stitt has been president of Honolulu Unit 470 and active on the Hawaii Contract Bridge Units Association board, which runs the annual Hawaii Regional in January. She is also involved with a group of Intermediate/Newcomer players.
Explaining the tournament’s motto of “Aloha,” Stitt said, “What aloha really means is goodwill.” Stitt noted that she didn’t know anyone locally when she moved to Hawaii in 2004. “I could not imagine the wonderful family I would accumulate along the way.”
Ashton has been District 20’s business manager for 12 years and also served three years as tournament manager. Ashton makes use of her background as a CPA in managing the district’s budget and financial statements.
“She tracks everything from dollars to free plays‚ nothing escapes her scrutiny,” said Marilyn Vilhauer, the district contracts manager and vice chair of the Goodwill Committee. “She treats D20’s funds as her responsibility to make sure every expenditure is documented and approved.”
DeMartino announced the 2019 Goodwill Member of the Year, who will be presented at the Spring NABC in Memphis, is Mark Sorenson of San Bruno CA in District 21. Quoting his nomination, DeMartino noted that Sorenson comes to club games to play with anyone without a partner regardless of skill level, calms the nerves of beginners with encouragement, visits the sick and brings them meals regularly. “He truly encourages others and is a congenial and supportive member of the bridge community,” she said.
DeMartino also encouraged anyone with ideas on how the committee could help members to let her know.
Outgoing ACBL President Jay Whipple announced DeMartino’s appointment to another three-year term as chair of the Goodwill Committee. Whipple showed the 2019 Goodwill Calendar, which was passed out to those in attendance, noting the highlighted words on the cover, such as “friendly” and “helpful.”
“The most important word is ‘always,’” Whipple said. “It’s not enough to be friendly now and then.”