“As a member of the Managing Committee of the Housing Society, you need to give your time and efforts towards managing the housing society and listen to the complaints and issues of members and handle the errant ones. I do not have time for this. I am hard pressed”. It is not uncommon to hear such comments from members when their co-operative housing societies seek volunteers at the Annual General Meetings. As a result, the handful of interested Committee members need to do a whole lot of cajoling prior to the AGM in the hope that a few members join the Committee.
I would like to suggest a different way to look at this responsibility that most of us would prima facie like to stay away from as much as possible. In this article, I would argue that working for a Co-operative Housing Society is a huge opportunity which is almost readily available to the large number of apartment owners and their families in our country. This is an opportunity that represents something special and unique for people with different interests and priorities.
Management Committees need to have society members – those who are shareholders of the society. In most societies, it is common to see retired individuals playing these roles. Senior citizens have the opportunity to use their wisdom acquired through their work life for community good. To many such senior citizens, it provides the avenue to implement their work ethic and a set of activities which has become a habit throughout their working lives.
Home makers who play a role in such committees are able to use their insights into real issues and often make a significant difference. I have known homemakers take on responsibility to the environment and take a lead in environment friendly practices in their societies – garbage segregation, campaigns for usage of bio degradable disposables, superior hygiene and housekeeping , collectively campaigning for socially responsible projects including voluntary service with NGO’s, run a small building library, help organize stress relief sessions or even organize public interest lecturettes on various areas sourcing skills of professionals available in the Society.
Teenagers who are family members may not be able to get onto the Management Committees but the can form special forums / sub groups and help organize events, celebrations, picnics etc and thereby improve their organizing skills and interpersonal skills. I have seen specialized professionals bring in their corporate expertise to bear on special projects – renewable energy, rain water harvesting, bringing in a quality focus in every process that the Society is engaged in – be it Security, Safety, creating a green zone, creating a sports facility or Water Management . Some societies organize health camps and counseling sessions on disease management or organize a meditation awareness session all through pooling the skills available. This bring in a professional focus to running such societies
The income for Societies may come from multiple sources – membership fees, subletting charges, parking charges, vendors using the infrastructure of the Societies – advertising bill boards/ telephone antennae / any other external source. Managing the treasury of the Society can give exposure on accounting, income and expenditure management and help understand the economics of organizations or even a small business to those who have never had exposure to this role. Participating in Committee meetings helps understand multiple perspectives and sharpens one’s ability to influence decisions and communicate effectively.
So next time, when we readily admit that our Societies are not well managed and performs lackadaisically, remember, it is so because we neglect it and thereby losing out on all the opportunity that this offers. When time is spent in this effort constructively, one realizes that this is as good a developmental tool as any experiential learning initiative and one that makes a difference to the community.