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West Mt. Airy Neighbors hopes to recruit renters as new members

The West Mt. Airy Neighbor’s (WMAN) are clawing their way up in their fight to eliminate deficit,but membership goals still remain below the mark.

The neighborhood association announced back in March that they’d be embarking on a major membership campaign. Membership for 2011 was at a low at 400. In March,WMAN executive director Marilyn Cohen said the organization had about 600 members.

WMAN vice president of development and communications Chelsea Badeau said current membership remains around 600. But this doesn’t discourage her.

“With over 4,000 households in West Mt. Airy,we feel that this is an achievable goal and an important one in continuing to make West Mt. Airy a strong,active community organization,” she said.

In addition to the possibilities of gaining membership,WMAN has also just finished up its two largest fundraisers of the year—Eat Your Hearts Out and Mt. Airy Day.

Vice president of finance Martin Schmeig said Eat Your Hearts Out raised approximately $5,000. It is still unclear about how much money was raised from Mt. Airy Day.

Last year,he said,the organization was running on a $94,000 deficit,but has since lowered to a $48,000 deficit.

Further fundraising,as well as membership drives,will determine whether the group will run in the profit margin for next year. The extra cash would be used to better perform neighborhood functions.

“In a short period of time,we have really turned this ship around so were not in any financial hardship at all,” he said. “We’re very stable now.”

With the 5-mile Fun Run to take place in October,WMAN now has time to shift its focus on membership. And a new part of the focus is on renters.

“They may not have the exact same concerns as homeowners,such as zoning and homeowners taxes,” Badeau said. “[But] they do share an interest in quality of life and community building opportunities and social activities.”

According to the 2010 census,only 37 percent of Mt. Airy’s 27,000 residents are renters.

But Badeau said that only 20 renters are members,which is 3 percent of their overall membership.

Since WMAN will serve renters in less ways than homeowners,Badeau said there’s only a $20 annual fee for renters to be part of the organization,as opposed to the $30 fee for homeowners.

Additionally, Badeau said WMAN also plans to meet with property owners and managers to help better meet the needs of renters

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