We believe reunions have the power to nourish and strengthen families of all races and ethnicities. Reunions can encourage healthy extended family relationships, provide a sense of belonging, restore family pride, nurture and respect all generations, and impart wisdom, knowledge and a shared purpose. Our goal is to strengthen, inspire and support family reunion planning; share useful information and resources; and advocate for the teaching of family and reunion history, values and experiences.
Planning a family reunion? Click below for tips on:
We’re planning our first reunion but having trouble identifying an official name. My great-great-grandfather was a Smith. He married twice. His first wife’s maiden name was Greene, his second wife was a Jones. He had a total of 14 children—six girls and eight boys. Initially we were going to call the reunion the Smith Family Reunion. Then some family members wanted to make it Smith Greene Jones. Now they want to add the last name of the married children. That would make it Smith Greene Jones and six additional names (as there were six daughters). Since we all have the Smith name in common, wouldn’t it be easier and wiser to just leave it at Smith rather than continue to add names? Is there a rule of thumb to follow when selecting a reunion name?
It’s October and Dr. Ione Vargus, along with the Family Reunion Institute Advisory Board, invite you to join us for the first in a series of workshops designed specifically for family reunion planners. You responded to our recent survey and identified the topics you need help with. We’ve reviewed what you’ve said and have planned workshops in response to your needs. The first workshop is on Saturday, October 23rd, and it’s FREE. Workshop topics are Successful Fundraising Suggestions, Assembling an Effective Planning Team, and Creating a Tech Solution that Fits Your Budget and Skills. Click the link at the top of this page for more info and to register. We look forward to seeing you.
October is also host to Family History Month, AIDS Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Global Diversity Awareness Month, Positive Attitude Month, Photographer Appreciation Month, and Learn to Bowl Month, along with Evaluate Your Life Day, Smart is Cool Day, Do Something Nice Day, You Matter to Me Day, Make a Difference Day, Get Smart About Credit Day, Kids Music Day, Train Your Brain Day, Halloween, and so much more. Read all about it in this month’s FAMILY TIME. This month’s REUNION TIP OF THE MONTH matches Photographer Appreciation month with Family History month. Practical Family Reunion Planning shares tips for seniors and elders. And you’ll find quotes about family in WORTH REPEATING.
Last December when the FDA issued the first Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine, most of us were hopeful that by now the pandemic would be on its way out, and we’d be back to enjoying life again as we knew it before the great 2020 lockdown. Instead, many variants have been identified, four of which are considered “variants of concern” by the World Health Organization—Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. Schools’ are in some phase of full swing (in person, digitally or hybrid), except for when they’re closed down because of a quarantine situation. Discussions about the wearing of masks and vaccines have gone from being hoped for and cherished, to creating a big divide across the country. And many of our plans for a 2021 reunion were on the chopping block right next to 2020’s. But let’s stay hopeful.
Let’s hope that everyone will come to their senses and do what’s needed to keep us all safe and rid the country—once and for all—of Covid. Let’s hope that our children will be safely educated and back on track by the end of the school year. Let’s hope that all of the “Help Wanted” signs get permanently removed from our favorite restaurants and stores, and that people get back to being gainfully employed. Let’s hope that our reunions get moving in the right direction again. And that we become a nicer and kinder society.
We hope you have a great October. Take time to enjoy the radiant fall foliage, family, and reunion planning. Wear a mask. Stay socially distanced. Wash your hands. Be well. And don’t forget to register—to vote—and for the Family Reunion Planners Workshop!
- Virtual Family Reunion Planners Workshop Registration
- Reunion Tip of the Month
- Family Time
- Practical Family Reunion Planning
- Worth Repeating
- Sticky Reunion Situation
- Survey Data
It’s Photographer Appreciation and Family History month, so why not blend the two to make great memories for the whole family. We know family members love to take selfies, so use them along with photos of ancestors to create a family tree with pictures. Just be sure to identify those pictured.
As a bonus, you can create an Instagram page or photo-booth page on your website for sharing the pics. You can also match-up ancestors with present day family members who look alike, and/or create a “then and now” photo game where family members have to match “then” pictures of family members with their “now” photo.
Looking for something to do with the family this month? October boasts Family History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness, Domestic Violence Awareness, Global Diversity Awareness, Positive Attitude, Photographer Appreciation, and Learn to Bowl Month, along with Evaluate Your Life Day, Smart is Cool Day, Do Something Nice Day, You Matter to Me Day, Make a Difference Day, Get Smart About Credit Day, Kids Music Day, Train Your Brain Day, Halloween, and so much more.
Family reunion planning should take into account all members of the family, especially seniors and elders. Too often they are dismissed, neglected and forgotten. Once they’re no longer baking cakes, cooking hot meals, babysitting, driving or as active as they used to be, we tend to forget about them. However, there are practical ways to ensure they’re feeling as important to our family tree as they want to be—and are.
1. Keep them engaged. Contact them several times a month to see how they’re doing. Fill them in on reunion plans, family activities, and happenings within the family.
2. Find out if they’re not actively participating because they can no longer get around on their own. If so, arrange transportation for them. If not, determine how family members can be of assistance.
3. Encourage them to help with the planning if they want to, and let them assist where they can make the most impact such as making inquiries and follow-up calls, accessing needed contacts, providing wise counsel, consultation, etc.
4. Talk with them about their lives growing up and learn more about the family “back in the day”. Collect as many memories as you can from them and write them down for sharing with the rest of the family. (If not documented and/or shared, memories will only last as long as those who have them do.)
5. Ask them to share their photos and find a way to caption and catalog them for posterity.
6. Grab hold of those recipes. Write them down. Consider putting together a cookbook and selling it as a fundraiser for your reunion.
Honoring family seniors and elders should be a natural and noble thing for families to do. Regardless of outward appearances, many of our family elders are determined, sharp, and capable with sound minds, thoughts, ideas, guidance and advice. All it takes is starting the conversation. They may not be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram but they’re still a vital part of the family.
Click below to let us know how your family interacts with it’s seniors and elders during and after the reunion.
“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.“ - Chinese Proverb
“The thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know about our families and the realities." - Jeremy Hardy
"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning." - Alex Haley, Roots
"We are links between the ages, containing past and present expectations, sacred memories and future promise." - Edward Sellner
"Don’t let the busy world of today keep you from showing how much you love and appreciate your family.”- Josiah
"Preserve your memories and keep them well. What you forget you can never retell." - Louisa May Alcott
"Remember me in the family tree; my name, my days, my strife. Then I'll ride upon the wings of time and live an endless life." - Linda Goetsch
Our family was really hoping to have a reunion this year. We scaled things back to a one-day picnic, but it was cancelled because family members were worried about too many people attending, (over 100 responded). We’re hopeful for next year. In the meantime, how do we keep family members hopes up? How can we create excitement for 2022 when there’s so much uncertainty about being safe?
Help! Our reunion is turning into a no talking zone. Everybody has their face in a phone or tablet. There is no “real” interaction or conversation. How can we turn this around?