Constitution (Under Review)
We, Ghanaians resident in the State of Washington, USA, desiring to form and promote a cultural union do hereby agree to amend the original Constitution to include a preamble to guide and regulate the affairs of the Ghanaian Association of Greater Seattle (GHASEA), as written in September 2011. This Association shall conduct its affairs as permitted by the laws of the United States of America and the State of Washington.
Article 1: NAME OF ASSOCIATION
The name of this Association shall be the GHANAIAN ASSOCIATION OF GREATER SEATTLE hereafter referred to as “GHASEA”.
Headquarters Address: Ghasea, P.O. Box 6894, Bellevue, WA 98008
Article 2. – PURPOSE
The purposes of this GHASEA are:
- 1) To promote fellowship and solidarity among Ghanaians, their children, spouses, and associates living
in the State of Washington.
- 2) To provide a forum for members to meet as a group to participate, share and contribute to the
educational and socio-economic development of Ghanaians.
3) To promote the Ghanaian culture in the State of Washington, and in the United States as a whole.
4) To raise funds to provide educational materials and offer scholarships to needy student members of GHASEA
5) To be organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes under Section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
Article 3. – MEMBERSHIP
Section 1 Membership Classification
Membership shall be one of the following:
- Active Member:
- Mandatory Ghanaian citizenship or nationality.
- Current on his/her annual dues.
- Attends meetings and participates in the activities of GHASEA.
- Has the privilege to vote and hold office.
1. Associate Member:
- Ghanaian citizenship or nationality not mandatory.
- An Associate member shall have the same requirements and privileges as active members,except that associate members shall not vote or hold office
- An Associate member can become an active member after 6 months in good standing .
- Honorary membership may be conferred upon a non-Ghanaian individual who has made significant contributions to the Association and is chosen by the Executive Board for such honor.
- Such a member is entitled to the same privileges as an active member, except that he/she cannot hold office or vote. An honorary member may also be nominated by an Active member and confirmed by the Executive Board.
1.Partnership Club Member:
- Partnership club membership shall be open to all local Ghanaian organizations, associations, foundations, churches and businesses under the umbrella of GHASEA. They shall maintain their separate entity status.
- A partnership with GHASEA will strengthen and showcase the partnership club member’s image through a network system of advertising and public relations opportunities.
- The partnership club member’s name, link or website will be profiled on the Ghasea website thereby exposing the partnership club member worldwide, and to other professionals– a valuable public relations benefit.
- A partnership club member shall have all the rights and privileges of an individual member, after the partnership club membership dues is paid.
- Dues for Partnership Club Membership shall be $80 a year.
Section 2 Qualifications for membership
Qualifications for admittance to this Association are:
- a) Ghanaian Citizenship
- b) Foreign born with naturalized Ghanaian citizenship.
- c) Ghanaian citizens, naturalized as United States of America citizens.
- d) Spouses and children of Ghanaians (as defined in a, b, c).
- e) Anyone interested in the development or welfare of Ghanaians.
Section 3 Registration
Registration as a member of the Association can be done:
By mail or online at http://ghasea.info
- Completion and submission of an official GHASEA registration form.
- Payment of the annual dues.
Section 4 Membership dues, fees, finances
Annual membership dues and fees shall be as follows:
- Annual membership dues shall be $40.00 (forty dollars) per member, 18 years or older
- Partnership Club membership dues shall be $80.00 per year.
- Dues and fees shall be payable to the Treasurer no later than on the anniversary of the due date
- Failure to pay by this date renders a member the status of a “member not in good standing”
All funds used for operating GHASEA shall be acquired through sources commensurate with GHASEA’s status as a non-profit organization. Some specific sources are:
- Annual Membership Renewal Fees
- Fund-raising events organized by GHASEA
- Fees or money collected from selected GHASEA activities
- Returns from savings and/or investments
GHASEA”s money shall be kept in a bank account and shall be used for approved functions and services.
Deposits from Proceeds:
After the end of every event, the President shall designate the Treasurer and Secretary and any other member present to conduct a final count of the cash received. The checks, cash, accounts receivable are verified and the final proceeds are put in a sealed envelope and handed to the Treasurer who deposits it in the GHASEA account the next first business day.
Section 5 Suspension of Membership
- Any member who has failed to be current on membership dues and lacks active participation in meetings, for three (3) consecutive months, will be suspended from membership after notification by email from the Treasurer
- A member who has been suspended may have his/her membership reinstated by payment of all dues and fees in arrears, plus a reinstatement fee of $25.
Section 6 Resignation and renewal of membership
- Any member or board member may resign by giving notice to the Secretary. Resignation shall not relieve a member of unpaid dues, or other charges previously accrued.
- A member who resigns in good standing (dues paid up to date), may reapply for membership.
- Pursuant to Article 9 (Discipline) and 10 (Censure or Judgment), membership shall be terminated by a two-thirds majority vote of the Executive Board.
Section 7 Membership Benefits
The following are benefits to active members (see Article 3, Section 1 (A) for definition of active members:
New members shall have a waiting period of 60 days before they are eligible for GHASEA benefits except for announcements made on their behalf. Renewal of membership after membership expiration shall have a 30-day waiting period however if membership has expired for over 12 months, waiting period shall be 60 days for benefit eligibility.
There will be two different kinds of bereavement assistance.
- Benefits to be provided when any family member of a GHASEA member is deceased
- Benefits to be provided when a member of GHASEA, a spouse or child of a member is deceased
- When any family member is deceased:
- Upon a member’s request Ghasea will broadcast email invitations to Ghasea members and encourage members to attend the funeral or celebration of life. Members will be encouraged to make a donation to the bereaved member.
- If there is no funeral or celebration on life, Ghasea will broadcast email to Ghasea members and encourage members to privately support the member. Members will be encouraged to make a donation to the bereaved member privately.
- Ghasea will provide a wreath or the equivalent cash value of the wreath in addition to the benefits described above.
- When a member, a member’s spouse or a member’s child dies
- In addition to the benefits provided in section A, members will be obliged to contribute at least $50.00 to the member’s family or next of kin. This donation can be done through Ghasea.
- Child Birth
When a member or a member’s spouse gives birth:
Upon a member’s request Ghasea shall broadcast email invitations to Ghasea members and encourage members to attend the out dooring ceremony/naming ceremony/christening and make a donation. This donation can be done through Ghasea. Ghasea will donate $100 and a card to the family.
- Life Insurance
Life insurance will be available to all members in good standing. This benefit will eliminate any financial burden on and most importantly provide some financial security to the surviving family when a member dies. Additional information will be provided upon a members’ request.
- Annual Health Screening and Seminars
Ghasea will provide annual health screening and health seminars for its members. This benefit is consistent with the mission of Ghasea and also for the general well being of all members. Ghasea will find organizations or health care providers who can provide health screenings and health seminars at no charge.
- Mentoring Program and Professional Networking
Ghasea will provide a mentoring program for Ghasea members and their children.
Ghasea will organize a mentoring event every year. This will be for Ghasea members or their children who have just graduated from college or high school. The mentoring program event will be named The Graduates Night-a night devoted to recognizing, honoring, congratulating, encouraging and mentoring new graduates.
The Purpose of the Graduates Night:
- To recognize and congratulate new graduates in the Ghanaian community
- To provide an opportunity for graduates and members, who want mentors, to meet new people and select mentors if they wish
- To provide a forum for graduates to network with professionals in our community for potential job or internship leads.
- To provide a forum for graduates to meet professionals who may be working in the field the graduates are interested in
- To provide a forum for college-bound high school graduates to meet recently college graduates
- To provide a forum where adult members can mingle with our children and young adults
- To provide a forum for business, professional or personal networking
The graduate can be a member’s child or the member. This Graduate’s Night will be organized at the end of every school year and will be free for all attendees.
- Computer Training and IT Advice Services
Ghasea will make available computer training for members at no cost. Computer training courses that will be beneficial to most members in the short term include the following:
Computer Basics – Windows 7
For example: Function of parts of computer
How to create and organize folders and more
MS Office: For example:
Microsoft Power Point
The Web and Internet
For example: How to buy, sell and advertise on the Web Search and more
For example: Tricksters and malware
How give to permissions and more
- Tutoring for Kids
Ghasea recognizes that helping children with home work is important and could go a long way to help improve our children’s education.
Ghasea shall recruit volunteers to serve as tutors to help children of members with home work in various courses or academics. Tutors can include children of members (high school students or college students) who are very talented in specific subjects.
- Promotion of Businesses: (see Article 3, Section 1 (D) for Partnership Club Member)
Ghasea will provide a global forum to promote businesses belonging to members.
- By advertising members’ businesses on the Ghasea website.
- By providing a link to businesses from the Ghasea website to the business website.
- By giving discount to members who promote their business at Ghasea events via a service contract.
- By providing seminars to business owners once or twice a year. The topics for the seminars will be chosen to meet the needs of business owners and contain information that can be used to improve the health of the business. The seminar providers will come from our community or elsewhere.
- Professional Networking- This will be allowed to naturally fold into the mentoring program.
- OTHER FREE BENEFITS
Eligibility to hold office and participate in committees.
- Voting rights during Ghasea meetings.
- Free checkout of Ghasea property as determined by the Executive Board:
(See listing of property items in Appendix B on last page)
Article 4. – THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Section 1: The Advisory Committee
- A 5-10 member Advisory Committee shall be appointed into office by the Executive Board.
- The criteria for membership shall be a majority of paid Ghasea members.To reflect the population served and their needs, other criteria for membership shall be, but not limited to, lawyers, entrepreneurs, social workers, medical personnel, committed to fundraising, technologists, etc.
- An election committee, of three members, from the Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the President and shall be responsible for conducting elections, according to procedures and rules. Voting privileges. Each member shall have one secret vote during elections.
- The Advisory Committee shall also serve as advisors to the Executives of the Association on matters related to the governance of the Association.
- The Advisory Committee shall have the flexibility on where and when to meet, but must meet at least once a calendar year to give input and react to ideas from the Executive Board as well as the general membership.
- The Advisory Committee shall appoint its own Chair.
Article 5. – THE EXECUTIVE BOARD
Section 1 Elected Officials
There shall be six (6) elected officers as follows:
- Vice President
- Event Organizer
Section 2 Term of Office
- Officers shall be elected for a term of two years. They will serve from the date they are elected until the next elections are held.
- Officers cannot serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms in the same office.
Section 3 Transition of Administration
- There shall be a meeting of the Executive Board, immediately following an election of new executives.
- It should include the outgoing and the incoming officers.
- Upon the introduction and swearing in, the newly elected President shall become the presiding officer of any new business.
Section 4 The Executive Board
- The six elected officers shall become the Executive Board.
Section 5 Organization’s Business
- The Executive Board shall handle the business of the Association.
- The Executive Board shall appoint working committee members as needed.
Section 6 Meeting of the Executive Board
- Meetings of the Executive Board shall be held as needed.
Section 7 Quorum
- A quorum for conducting the business of the Executive Board shall be a simple majority of the Executive Board members.
Article 6. – DUTIES OF OFFICERS
Section 1 Duties of the President
The President shall:
- Preside at all meetings of the Executive Board and general meetings of the Association, and at any special meetings.
- Make interim appointments as needed with the approval of the Executive Board.
- Sign all checks with the Treasurer.
- Call special meetings, when necessary.
Section 2 Duties of the Vice President
The Vice President shall:
- Perform the duties of the President when he/she is absent.
- Perform such duties as are assigned by the President.
- Appoint the committee heads immediately after elections.
- Cosign all contracts with the Secretary, after approval by the Executive Board.
- Acts as a liaison to other African Organizations when necessary.
Section 3 Duties of the Secretary
The Secretary shall:
- Handle all correspondence of the Association.
- Record minutes of all proceedings of the Board and membership meetings.
- Cosign all contracts for the Association with the Vice President.
- In the absence of the Secretary, the President shall appoint an interim secretary for the occasion at hand.
Section 4 Duties of the Treasurer
The Treasurer shall:
- Be in charge of all funds of the Association.
- Make a quarterly and annual financial report to the membership.
- Sign all checks with the President.
- Collect all membership dues and monies owed to the Association.
Section 5 Duties of the Event Organizer
The Events Organizer shall:
- Organize the activities including fund raising events of the Association.
- Plan and coordinate every detail of meetings, from the speakers to meeting locations.
- Arrange for printed materials and audio-visual equipment.
- Search for prospective meeting sites and negotiate contracts and fees.
- Coordinate all meeting logistics, making sure all necessary supplies are ordered and arrive on time.
- Create a detailed budget forecasting what each aspect of a given event will cost.
Section 6 Duties of the Parliamentarian
The Parliamentarian shall:
- Maintain the Association’s written rules of order and bylaws.
- Help ensure the orderly and smooth transaction of business in meetings in a democratic manner.
- Ensure that questions about procedure are resolved quickly.
- Help make good use of everybody’s time in a consistent and efficient manner.
Article 7. – INDEMNIFICATION OF OFFICERS
Ghasea shall indemnify its officers to the greatest extent permitted by law. Ghasea shall have the power to purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of its officers against any liability asserted against such person and incurred by such person arising out of any service or work performed on behalf of Ghasea.
Article 8. – MEETINGS
Section 1 Meetings
- Four general meetings shall be held every year. Recommended meeting days shall be:
- Winter: 2nd weekend in February
- Spring: 2nd weekend in May
- Summer: 3rd weekend in August (before Labor Day)
- Fall: 2nd weekend in November
2. Members shall be notified by the Secretary at least two weeks prior to the date of the meeting.
- Meeting dates shall also be marked on the calendar on Ghasea website.
Section 2 Special Meetings
- Special meetings of the Association may be called by the President or the Executive Board.
- Notice of such special meetings shall be given to members at least one day in advance.
- Such notice shall also be posted on the Ghasea website.
Section 3 Quorum
- A quorum for conducting business of a regular or special meeting shall consist of at least five (5) active members.
Section 4 Proxy
- A member who has an excused absence from a meeting may send a proxy to vote for but not to argue for him/her.
Article 9. – DISCIPLINE
Section 1 Disciplinary Actions and Code of Conduct Policy
- An officer who does not comply with assigned responsibilities may be relieved of office by a majority vote of the Executive Board.
- Appointment of a replacement shall be made by the President, with the approval of the Board.
- Charges of professional dishonesty, working against the principles and purposes of the standing member and/or other misconduct may be filed in a written statement. This statement must be signed by three members, in good standing, and sent to the Executive Board for investigation.
- Any violation will be considered to be detrimental to the progress and operation of Ghasea and will result initially in a written warning or reprimand.
- Repeat instances of violation shall be subject to immediate dismissal of the member and the loss of all membership privileges by a two-thirds majority vote in the general assembly.
- Possessing, selling or using illegal substances and behaving in a way suggestive of being under the influence of hallucinogenic or other controlled substances. This will be reported to the authorities.
- Fighting or inflicting physical abuse on another during Ghasea meetings or social events; also behaving in a loud or rowdy manner.
- Harassing others, either verbally or through actions. Harassment may include initiating unwanted conversations.
- Other violationswithout prior authorization from the Executive Board might include, but is not limited to:
- Videotaping or photographing of any kind for profit purposes without a Ghasea Service Contract
- Soliciting, selling or proselytizing for personal gain.
- Bringing firearms, knives or other weapons to Ghasea events.
- Distributing literature, taking surveys or asking individuals to sign petitions or similar activities except as part of special events sponsored by Ghasea.
Article 10. – CENSURE OR JUDGMENT
- Any elected or appointed executive and/or member are subject to a vote of censure by members of Ghasea.
- There shall be two-third (2/3) of members present at a general meeting to approve a disciplinary action against such an executive and/or member.
- Conditions for censure of any of the executives and/or member of Ghasea shall arise from any of the following: Corruption, inefficiency, embezzlement and misuse of power.
- Any allegation against any executive and/or member shall be made in writing. If such an allegation has a foundation which shall be determined by the general assembly an investigation shall be conducted by a special committee appointed by the general house. The committee shall report their findings within a given time to the general assembly. The verdict of guilty or not guilty shall be determined by a majority of members present at the meeting.
- An executive and/or member under investigation shall step down for the period of the investigation.
- If an executive and/or member are guilty of embezzlement of Ghasea funds, he/she shall be made to pay back the money in full.
- If any executive and/or member are guilty of any of the offenses mentioned above, he/she may be impeached, reprimanded, probated or dismissed from Ghasea, according to the laws of the State of Washington with regards to established procedure.
- The punishment shall also depend on the magnitude of the offense and shall be determined by the general assembly by a majority vote.
- If the executive is found not guilty, he/she shall be reinstated.
Article 11. – REVIEW AND AMENDMENT OF CONSTITUTION
Section 1 Amending the Constitution
- The Constitution may be amended or revised by a majority affirmation vote of members (in good standing) present at a meeting designed for that purpose.
- Copies of the proposed amendments shall be given to members in good standing at least one (1) month prior to the meeting.
Section 2 Reviewing the Constitution
- A committee of three (3), appointed by the President and approved by the Executive Board, should review and evaluate the Constitution every two (2) years or as necessary.
Article 12. – DISSOLUTION
Section 1 Handling Material Possessions of the Association
- Should the Association be dissolved, all material possessions of the Association must be sold and the proceeds obtained from the sale, in addition to balances in institutional accounts be disbursed as determined by the Executive Board.
Section 2 IRS Requirements
- Upon the dissolution of the organization, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose.”
Article 13. – POSSIBLE COMMITTEES
The activities and operations of the Association shall be managed through some or all of these committees:
- Youth Academic, Computer Training and Cultural Activities Committee
- To mobilize the youth of Ghasea for cultural activities
- To provide drumming and dancing classes
- To provide computer and IT network training for members
- To provide tutoring classes and homework assistance
- Recruit instructors, resource persons, and volunteers
- Locate venues for classes
- Schedule classes
- Oversee curriculum development by instructors who will teach the classes.
- Women’s Committee
- Coordinate and provide leadership for the activities of the Women’s committee
- To plan and conduct field trips and other social events
- Organize activities designed to allow women members to support one another
- Ghanaian Community Welfare and Sports Committee
- To develop and provide programs that benefit members of the Association and their immediate families.
- To provide counseling and assistance to members in need
- To assess the need after the initial consultation with the member in need.
- To provide a comprehensive sports program that offers opportunities for members, male and female, of various ages and abilities to participate in recreation and sports activities.
- Continue to support Ghasea Summer Sports Recreation Programs (Soccer, Volleyball, Table-Tennis, etc.
- Membership Drive and Health Screening Committee
- To expand the Association’s membership base
- To identify the most effective strategies of recruitment
- To provide annual health screening and health seminars for members
- To work with other committees in the Association
- To get members involved in the recruitment drive
- To identify the most effective strategies of recruitment
- To find organizations or health care providers who can provide free health screenings and health seminars
- Audit Committee
Goals & Objectives
- Periodically audit all financial records of the Association to ascertain the validity, proper documentation and authorization of all financial transactions
- Conduct periodic reviews of the Association’s activities and programs to ascertain their effectiveness in achieving the aims and objectives outlined in Article 2
- Make recommendations on proper control systems and processes, as needed, to ensure sound management of the Association’s funds
- Present periodic reports on the financial condition and state of affairs of the Association to the Executive Board.
6. Ghasea Scholarships Committee
Goals and Objectives:
The goal of the Ghasea Scholarships Committee is to seek out and promote qualified students to apply for its funds, and administer award of scholarships annually.
Committee activities shall include, but not be limited to:
- Administer the scholarship program as outlined by Ghasea Constitution & By-Laws.
- Conduct an annual review of program policies and requirements, and revise as needed.
- Develop and maintain relationships with members of Ghasea to identify potential scholarship candidates.
- Develop and administer a fund raising program to solicit additional donations to provide funds needed for the program.
- Provide administrative oversight of invested funds contributed to the program to ensure a self-sustaining endowment.
- Advertise scholarship program through various venues (school newsletter, trade journals, and magazines) to notify potential recipients of the Association’s program.
- The committee chair shall submit a written report to the President of Ghasea on the committee’s activities at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting.
- Ghasea Community Outreach & Planning Committee
Goals and Objectives:
- Establish an effective liaison with the community to promote positive educational and social interaction with the Ghanaian community
- Oversee Ghasea events and planning process
- Setting timelines for events
- Securing location of events
- Providing refreshments during events
- Recruiting participants and volunteers
- Prepare invitations to events
- Accepting RSVP phone calls to confirm attendance at events, and reminder calls
- Inviting Ghasea members to display their exhibits at events
- Publicizing events on Ghasea website
[K1]I don’t think we should keep this here. This is a privilege conferred on an “Active Member”. A member must become an “Active Member” before they can vote, right?
[K2]Besides Ghanaian citizenship or nationality not being mandatory, what qualifies someone as an “Associate Member”? What are the privileges of an “Active Member”?
[K3]What constitutes “good standing”? Spell it out. It is quite vague.
[K4]Financially or materially or both? I am thinking either…. It will be nice to spell it out
[K5]Are these the same as the benefits mentioned later?
[K6]This is not very clear to me…
[K7]It is never mentioned that “Associate Members” or honorary members must pay their membership dues. This means I can call myself a member of GHASEA and would be under no obligation to pay dues. I suggest payment of dues be added to the prerequisites for membership
[K8]This needs to be written explicitly. What is the “anniversary of the due date”?
[K9]Does GHASEA meet every month of the year? How do you determine “three consecutive months”? Is there a timeline to meetings?
[K10]It appears from here that I can choose to not pay dues but attend all meetings and so avoid suspension, correct?
[K12]Already mentioned above