Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Winston-Salem/Greensboro HOA Management Company Explains Why Community Service Is a Core Company (and Personal) Value

Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?  Apparently, more than you’d think.  In a world where the news is often dominated by uncertainty and fear, the reality is there are many wonderful people doing good in the world, quietly committed to helping others and changing lives for the better.  Research from the National Center of Charitable Statistics shows that more than 25% of Americans over the age of 16 volunteer (this excludes countless schoolchildren in scouts, churches and clubs).  And financial giving is up: individuals, foundations and businesses donated an impressive $358.38 billion in 2014, up 7% over the previous year.

A culture of giving is what makes AMG work.  Nearly 100% of staff in our five offices throughout North Carolina and South Carolina volunteers in the community–whether it’s running a road race to raise awareness about hunger to supporting local charities with donation dollars. I recently returned from an Angel Flight Soars trip to deliver a patient from Atlanta to a medical appointment in Winston-Salem. Since 1983, Angel Flight Soars, a non-profit that recruits pilots to fly medical missions throughout the south, has connected more than 32,000 families to life-saving medical care: from burn victims needing skin grafts to cancer patients traveling to special treatment centers to hopeful recipients like Helen Lindsey awaiting transplants.  I’ve been flying for Angel Flight since 2009 and Helen was really special.  A quadruple amputee in remission from cancer, she’s on a wait list for a bilateral hand transplant, slated for some time in 2017 or 2018.  “The Angel Flight was absolutely incredible,” Helen said. “It’s an honorable thing to volunteer your time to transport people like me to appointments. Frequent appointments are important and it’s wonderful to know Angel Flight Soars is here to help.”

The impact of this volunteer experience went beyond my short time with her. My son Matthew was a part of the experience and was transformed by her optimism and energy.  Landmark Aviation of Greensboro/Winston-Salem and Epps Aviation of Atlanta joined in the effort by waiving fees and discounting fuel. And even Helen caught the volunteer bug. “It was so awesome that I’m now going for my pilot’s license,” she told me. “I can’t wait to be a part of Angel Flight Soars and start helping people in this way.” Helen has a great curiosity and a desire to explore. Nothing stops her. “I approach life by the moment,” she said. “I try to have great moments, no matter what, whether it’s having a casual dinner with family or learning to water ski and drive a boat. I can’t stand to be non-productive. I want to feel useful.” A former nurse and professional mediator, Helen feels volunteering is important: she believes blessing people honors God.  I was so inspired by her enthusiasm that I reached out to MayCay Beeler, a former WFMY TV news weather anchor and now a flight instructor and creator of The Diva Flight Experience which empowers women through aviation, as well as other aviation professionals to see if we can help Helen achieve her goal.  On Christmas Day, AMG’s May Gayle Mengert delivered good news to Helen: MayCay and TAA Flight School (Triad Aviation Academy of Greensboro) will provide a flight lesson. Sam Schoolfield, an active duty Marine Corp officer and Certified Flight Instructor and my partner in the Haiti orphanage missions, has volunteered a weekend of flight training experience for her.

I’ve done a lot of volunteer service through the years including this recent flight with Helen and I’ve learned some good lessons along the way that can be applied not only to my life but to my business as a professional HOA manager helping create attractive, harmonious, successful communities. The concept of helping to repair our world is important to me and a core value of our company.    

*Helping people inspires me. 
It’s satisfying to do good in the world, it makes you feel good–and research backs that up. reports that volunteering helps you make new friends and broaden your social and professional network. It boosts self-confidence, satisfaction and self-esteem; is an antidote for stress and depression; provides a sense of purpose and vitality to life; lessens chronic heart disease and pain–even improves your mortality rate, adding years to your life if not life to your years! In business, inspiration is equal to creativity. We’re always looking for new ways to provide more benefit to customers, to improve the experience, to invent new technologies and processes that make life for our customers easier.

*It reminds me to focus on the important things.
In life and society, focusing on the important things means giving of yourself and helping lift up those around you. It’s pretty much the same in business. The most important thing to focus on? Of course, the customer: making sure customers get what they need and have a positive and satisfying experience.  The second most important thing is the team, making sure staff get continuous training, providing a safe environment for creative brainstorming and innovative problem-solving and, of course, rewarding good work.

*Volunteering is a key factor to personal and corporate satisfaction.
When you enrich your personal life with interesting volunteer work with intriguing and diverse people, you can’t help but go back to work refreshed and excited. Ideas, connections and ways of working you learn in the volunteer world transfer seamlessly to the corporate world–ideas like collaboration, the higher good, purpose, compassion, creativity and passion.  I firmly believe we’re here to make life better, easier and kinder for everyone–on the job, at home and in our community.

*Volunteering gives me hope.  
It’s said the three essentials to happiness in life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.  Hope is that little voice that whispers “maybe” when the entire world is shouting “no.” Volunteering makes me realize better things are coming. And that feels good. 

For more about Lindsey’s journey to become a pilot, visit   For more about Angel Flight Soars, to volunteer as a pilot, request a flight or make a donation, visit or call 1.877.4anAngel. For more about AMG, visit

About AMG:  AMG is a professional community association management company dedicated to building effective community associations. AMG guides and assists executive boards to help protect the association's interests, enhance the lives of community members and improve the property values in the community. With offices throughout the Carolinas in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, and Greenville and Aiken, SC, AMG is a knowledgeable partner in enforcing community governing documents with a proven set of processes and techniques, and supporting communities with a broad range of services which can be tailored to individual community needs. Association Management Group, Inc. is a locally Accredited Business by the BBB and is a nationally Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC) by the Community Associations Institute. For more about AMG, visit

PHOTO CUTLINE: Association Management Group President and Angel Flight Soars volunteer pilot Paul Mengert and his son Matthew recently flew quadruple amputee Helen Lindsey from Atlanta to a medical appointment in Winston-Salem. Helen is on the wait list for a hand transplant, targeted for 2017 or 2018. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Snow Removal: Watch Your Back

Lower back strain is one of the most common injuries related to shoveling snow. The following measures can help you prevent injuries and keep your back healthy while shoveling:

·         Before the first snowfall is predicted, make sure you have a proper shovel. The best shovel is one that is light weight, ergonomic and has a curved handle. Your shovel should also be long enough so that you can avoid bending over while shoveling and short enough so that the load on the blade when you lift it is close to your body.

·         Make sure that you have other essential equipment, like warm, waterproof and skid-proof boots, as well as gloves, a hat, a coat and sunglasses to protect against glare. 

·         Warm up before you start shoveling by walking around for five or 10 minutes, then stretch your arms, legs and back.

·         If possible, shovel when the snow is fresh rather than after it has been packed down and is heavier.

·         If the area you need to clear is large, shovel in stages starting with the most critical path first.

·         Switch hands often, and keep your hands separated with one hand closer to the blade. 

·         Keep the loads light, rather than piling large amounts of snow on your shovel blade. If the snow is deep, shovel in layers.

·         Avoid bending and twisting as you lift, and empty each shovel full of snow. When possible, push the snow to one side as you clear the path.

·         Avoid throwing snow off the shovel blade, especially over your shoulder.

·         Take a break every 15 or 20 minutes to straighten and stretch your back. 

·         Stay hydrated. 

·         Stretch again when you are finished shoveling. If you do experience any back strain, apply ice packs for the first 24 hours, then apply heat to loosen the muscles.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Worker's Compensation Insurance Update

The General Assembly passed a law this past Session that affects workers' compensation insurance requirements for certain non-profits. Under workers' compensation law, the employer/employee relationship includes private employments in which three or more people are regularly employed in the same business or establishment. More importantly, some lawyers interpreted the old law as applying to “officers and directors employees" whether they were volunteers or paid officers. AMG recognized the negative impact that this law, if interpreted in that manner, could have on our clients as well as many other non-profits: it would requirecommon interest associations to carry and pay for insurance that was not necessary in all cases.
We worked with other industry leaders to advocate removing the possibility that association board members might be covered inthe requirements under the Workers’ Compensation Act. We were able to meet with affected organizations and State legislators to explain and garner support for a clarification amendment. These initiatives, and their subsequent success, are clear examples of the need for the LAC to maintain close and constant contact with legislators representing homeowners across North Carolina.
We are pleased to announce that HB 765, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, amended the Workers’ Compensation Act and provides that individuals who are elected or appointed to serve as an officer, director or committee member of such a non-profit corporation, who performs only voluntary service for the non-profit corporation without remuneration except reasonable reimbursement for expenses incurred in connection with the voluntary service, are not employees of the corporation and should not be part of the equation for determining whether workers' compensation insurance must be obtained. However, this bill also says that when such a non-profit corporation employs one or more persons who do receive remuneration, then the officers, directors or committee members are included as part of the number of employees, which triggers the requirement for workers' compensation insurance.
Since most community associations do nothave any employees, but almost all have at least three officers or directors, this new law means that most community associations are not required to obtain workers' compensation insurance. A homeowners association may still elect to obtain workers' compensation coverage for its officers, directors and committee members. A community association that contracts for any work should require all contractors and subcontractors to provide a certificate of insurance verifying that those contractors have workers' compensation insurance, as required by law. 

AMG thanks CAI-NC and it's legislative action committee for much of the above information.

Consult your insurance and legal advisor for information about how this new law may affect your community. 

Different Kinds of Meetings

What’s the difference in a board meeting and a special meeting, or an annual meeting and a town meeting? Confused? Here’s some clarification.

Annual Meetings

Annual meetings—or annual membership meetings—are required by our governing documents, which specify when they’re to be conducted and how and when members are to be notified about the meeting. This is the main meeting of the year when members receive the new budget, elect a board, hear committee reports and discuss items of common interest.

Special Meetings

Special meetings are limited to a particular topic. The board can call a special meeting at any time, and they must notify all members in advance. The notice will specify the topic so interested members can attend. Special meetings give the board an opportunity to explore sensitive or controversial matters—perhaps an assessment increase. Members do not participate in the meeting, unless asked directly by a board member, but they have a right to listen to the board discussion.

Town Meetings

Town meetings are informal gatherings intended to promote two-way communication; full member participation is essential to success. The board may want to present a controversial issue or explore an important question like amending the bylaws. The board may want to get a sense of members’ priorities, garner support for a large project or clarify a misunderstood decision.

Board Meetings

Most of the business of the association is conducted at regular board meetings. Board members set policy, oversee the manager’s work, review operations, resolve disputes, talk to residents and plan for the future. Often the health and harmony of an entire community is directly linked to how constructive these meetings are.

Executive Session

The governing documents require the association to notify you in advance of all meetings, and you’re welcome—in fact, encouraged—to attend and listen. The only time you can’t listen is when the board goes into executive session. Topics that the board can discuss in executive session are limited by law to a narrow range of sensitive topics. Executive sessions keep only the discussion private; no votes can be taken. The board must adjourn the executive session and resume the open session before voting on the issue. In this way, members may hear the outcome, but not the private details.


Occasionally the association notifies all residents of a meeting at which absolutely no business is to be conducted. Generally these meetings include food and music, and they tend to be the best attended meetings the association has. Oh, wait! That’s a party, not a meeting. Well, it depends on your definition of meeting.