CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS OF PAN-ALBANIAN FEDERATION OF AMERICA VATRA (THE HEARTH)
Purpose of the Federation
This federation was founded and organized with the following purpose and program:
1. To promote among Albanians in America, and through them among the Albanians in Albania, the spirit of helping one another and of loving their nationality, through conferences and publications.2. To promote among them the sense of honor and love for the laws and institutions of the United States of America, and to strengthen the bond of friendship between American citizens and Albanians
3. To help in the learning of English and Albanian languages and to spread education and moral doctrines among Albanians in America.
4. To help morally for the amelioration of the members of the Federation and to protect, as much as it can, Albanian immigrants and workers.
The spirit of the Federation
5. VATRA should take no part in politics
6. Any Albanian, living in the United States of America, eighteen year s or older, of good behavior, of normal mentality, may seek to become a member of VATRA.
7. A person, who believes in the overthrow of the American government by revolutionary or criminal means, or by some illegal means no matter how, cannot become a member of VATRA, and if he has been accepted as a member through a mistake or ignorance of some members, his name will be deleted from the membership list.
8. A person that has revolutionary connections, which he supports with money or articles or conferences or in any other way, cannot be admitted as a member of VATRA, even if he himself is honest and wise and can be blamed only because of his misunderstanding. If a person of this sort has been admitted once as a member of VATRA, his name will be deleted from the membership list.
9. A person, no matter how honest he is, if he has the habit of contradicting always, of complaining, of heaping calumny on the officers of the Federation, and through his behavior and his speech manages to cool and drive ways people from VATRA, and plunges the Federation into expenses by increasing or lengthening meetings-such a person cannot be admitted as a member; or if he is admitted once, his name will be deleted from the membership list.
10. VATRA’s income comes from these sources: a) annual dues, the number and amount of which is to be resolved each year by the Convention of VATRA; and when no new resolution is made on this point, the system of previous year continues in effect, b) from publications (books and newspaper) of VATRA; c) from voluntary gifts of members, or friends outside of VATRA
11. The officers of VATRA are as follows: a president, a secretary, a treasurer and four board members. These officers together form the Central Committee and are elected for one year by VATRA’s convention which takes place annually at a meeting held by the Delegates id the chapters of VATRA.
The duties and rights of the Central Committee
12. The Committee organizes branches, accepts them in the Federation, or deletes them from the list of membership if they do not obey the Constitution and the by-laws, the directives of the Convention or the resolutions of the Committee.
13. The Committee appoints and removes form duty agents, lecturers, and other representatives and delegates of VATRA, as the need may be, whether they are paid or not.
14. The Committee examines the books of the Federation every four months, and through the President and the Treasurer publishes in the official bulletin of the Federation the income of the period.
15. Through the President, the Central Committee puts into effect the resolutions voted at the Convention and helps the president to fulfill his duties as prescribed by the Constitution and the by-laws.
16. The Committee holds a meeting at least six times a year; and if the President deems it necessary, the Committee may meet more than six times during the year.
17. The President calls the meetings, fixing the day and the hour of every meeting.
18. Four members of the Committee, if they think it necessary, may call upon the President to hold an extraordinary committee meeting. Such a demand upon the President should be made in writing and should note clearly the reasons that make the extraordinary meeting necessary.
The President of VATRA
19. The Central Committee like the Federation, is headed by the President of VATRA
20. The President is elected by the Convention of VATRA, and he can be removed only through a similar convention.
21. The President prepares and brings before the Central Committee every undertaking of importance, especially when it involves expenses of the branches of VATRA
22. At the end of the year, and with the help of the Central Committee, the President gives the convention an account of the expenses and the activities of the Committee.
23. The Secretary of the Headquarters is the second officer of VATRA, takes the place of the President when he is absent, keeps the books and correspondence of the Headquarters with the branches, with the members and other outside persons, keeps the records of the meetings of the Central Committee, keeps the archives, the keys to the office and the safe.
24. The Treasurer keeps the funds of the Federation for which he is responsible. All sums that come to him should be deposited at the regular bank on the day they are received. He has no right to keep on his person more than one hundred dollars of the organization’s money.
25. The Treasurer pays out all the sums resolved upon the Convention or by the Central Committee. All payments are made by check, signed both by the President and the Treasurer.
26. The Treasurer prepares the books every four months for the Central Committee, and annually for the Convention.
Members of the Board
27. The members of the Board should be present at every meeting of the Committee, unless they must be absent through illness or some other unexpected cause.
28. VATRA holds its convention once a year, composed of delegates from each regular branch that is recognized by Headquarters as in god order, and which has the necessary number of members.
29. The place and date of the convention are fixed by the previous convention, or, if necessary, by a vote sought from and sent by post by the boards of the branches. If neither the previous convention nor the vote of the various boards gave set a date, it is understood that the convention will be held in Boston in the first week of July.
30. No one will be admitted as delegate to the convention unless he has been a regular member for the last two years and has paid at least six membership dues.
31. Proof for the delegate’s being a regular member of VATRA for the last two years will be sought in the archives of VATRA.
32. A regular member for more than two years, in the event that he leaves America, retains the rights of an old member as soon as he pays his dues and joins the Federation again the first month he returns to America.
33. A regular member who is sick in a hospital is not deprived of his membership even if he pays no dues while he is in the hospital, but he loses the rights to membership as soon as he is out of the hospital and does not begin paying dues that may fall due at the time.
34. The credentials of the convention delegates are examined by the President and the Central Committee in VATRA’s offices before the Convention opens, and determines whether they are in good order or not. A delegate, in the event that he is not accepted as such, should abide by this decision at least provisionally, but has the right to bring his case before the Convention, which may reverse the decision of the Central Committee. Such a step should be brought before the convention in writing, and the rejected delegate may be called by the Convention so that he can present his case; but he cannot enter the convention without having been authorized to do so, and should he try to force his way in, h will be penalized by the loss of his membership in VATRA, as a person that disturbs the peace, does not obey regulations and is uncivilized.
35. The temporary chairman of the convention is the President of VATRA, who opens the convention in a speech summarizing the activities of the Federation. Then, the regular chairman of the convention is elected by open vote, as are the secretary and the reported of the convention.
36. The Central Committee participates in the convention, but has no vote and participated only for the purpose of offering necessary explanations.
37. The Convention examines the books and the activities of the previous year, investigates them, asks questions from the President and the other members of the Central Committee, and then takes a vote or approval or disapproval of the accounts and activities.
38. The Convention, after it makes resolutions and changes for the coming year, selects the members of the new Board or Central Committee which presents before the Convention to be approved for the coming year.
The Branches of VATRA
39. VATRA is composed of different branches, which cannot be called members of the Federation if they have not been recognized or are not recognized by the board.
40. The branches should observe strict obedience to the Board; have the right to oppose the Board at the Convention through their delegate; but in no other way.
41. Each branch has a President, a Secretary, an Assistant Secretary, a Treasurer and three board members.
42. Each branch, as soon as it is recognized by VATRA’s board, takes a seal, two books (one for the records and the other for the list of its members) and receipt forms. It should be understood that these are the property of VATRA, although the branch gets them free of charge and should be returned promptly to the board of VATRA when the board asks for their return, be it because it has expelled the branch form the Federation or because it simply wishes to examine them. Later, the branch has the right to complain to the Convention and to have its rights restored, if its rights have been nullified by the Board. But there can be no discussion about the return of the property of the Federation.
43. The branches hold two meetings a year, one for the purpose of looking over the books and for the election of a Board, and the other for the purpose of selecting a delegate for the Convention. Other meetings may be held if the Board or a majority of the members fined it advisable. The meeting should be announced in DIELLI at least a week before and has the power to act from the first no matter how few of the members present are.
Publications of VATRA
44. VATRA publishes DIELLI, a newspaper with the purpose of giving its members news and education in general.
45. The spirit of the paper will be progressive and anti-revolutionary.
46. The editor and his assistants are appointed by the Board if necessary, an officer of VATRA may also serve as editor of DIELLI.
47. Advertising for the paper may be acceptable as space permits, with a charge stipulated by the Board. Advertisements may be accepted or rejected by the Manager.
Salaries, Dues and Income
48. Which officers, delegates, lecturers or other workers of VATRA shall receive a salary or remunerations, and what the sum shall be, will be voted each year by the Convention when it prepares the regular budget.
49. The Board has the right to spend small sums not voted in the budget by the Convention, if the Board decides to do so unanimously.
50. All payments made by VATRA are made by check, signed by the President and the Treasurer.
51. Every receipt given by VATRA for money received is noted by the secretary and the treasurer.
Relations of Headquarters with the Branches
52. Every branch obeys Headquarters until the Convention. A branch does not have the right to criticize or to attempt to frighten the President or the Board through articles, meetings, resolutions or pamphlets.
53. Every branch can advise, or complain to the Board, but it has no right to demand the publication of everything it sends.
54. Reports of the meetings of the branches are published in VATRA’s organ, but these reports should not be polemical in nature, or should they have the purpose of attacking indirectly the resolutions of the Convention.
55. Headquarters keeps in contact with the branches through its Official Bulletin published in DIELLI and through circular letters.
56. Every regular delegate sent to the Convention has 1 (one) vote for every 15 (fifteen) to 30 (thirty) members he represents; has 2(two) votes for every 41(forty one) to 71 (seventy one) members he represents; has 3 (three) votes for every 71 (seventy one) to 100 (one hundred) members he represents; has 4 (four) votes for every 101 (one hundred one) to 130 (one hundred thirty) members he represents; and 1(one) extra vote for every 30(thirty) members over 131(one hundred thirty one).
57. The number of the members for the purpose of fixing the votes of the delegates is determined by taking the average of the past three dues as they have been paid to the Headquarters’ treasury. For example, if a branch had 15 members when dues became due in June, 25 members when dues were due in October, and 110 members when dues became due on February, which added together make a total vote of 150 for the year, we get 50 by dividing 150 by 3, and on the basis of this average, the branch has the votes that the number of 50 allows it.
58. Members of VATRA wear the pin specified from the beginning of the organization. When they are no longer members, they have no right to wear this pin.
59. A member who breaks the rules of the organization or works against its spirit, or detracts from the organization through his conduct, will be removed from membership by the branch after he has been asked for a proper explanation at a meeting of the branch. Such a member may complain to the Board, but the judgment of the Board will be final.
60. A member, who is undesirable for the reasons enumerated above, may be removed from membership by the Board if the Federation if the Branch has delayed in performing its duty or has not had sufficient information to make possible the ejection of the said member from the organization. Such action is communicated to the Branch by Headquarters through the organ of VATRA or by letter. The member has the right, through a delegate, to complain at the 7
61. The Board has the right, without any limitation whatsoever to drop from the list of membership any branch that breaks one or more rules of the Constitution and By-Laws the branch removed from membership may be reorganized by Headquarters if it is possible.
62. Every member is obliged to become a member of the branch in the city where he lives, except as noted in paragraphs 63 and 64.
63. A person who lives in a city where there is no branch may become a member at large.
64. The officers and workers of Headquarters may become members, if they wish of the branch at large, so as to escape from local influence. When they cease to be officers, they may continue, if they like, as members of the branch at large.
65. The branch at large has for Board the Central Committee of VATRA, and has archives and a seal like the other branches.
66. The branch at large, like the other branches, sends a delegate to the convention. This delegate is appointed by the Central Committee.
67. In the meetings of the Convention, the Central Committee, and the branches, the usual rules of all meetings in the US are in force- as regards the selection of a chairman, for the right of the chairman to allow people to speak or to stop them and even to ask them to leave the meeting for a while or for the duration anyone who disturbs unduly the meeting, for his voting on the side of the majority, etc. but if a regulation of the constitution and the by-laws note a change in this respect, the constitution and the by-laws have the last word.
68. A member penalized by the Headquarters or the branch for misbehavior may be admitted again as a member by a two-thirds vote, but he should not have the right to become an officer of the branch, at Headquarters or a delegate to the convention for at least two years.
69. VATRA should have a book of honor in which it should write the names of the officers of the branches, as well as the names of all those who support it morally. From time to time, or whenever dues are paid, it should publish an account of the activities of the officials of each branch, the increase or decrease of members, as well as the reason for the increase or decrease of membership.
70. The reports of the branches and their announcements should be sent to the secretary of the Board and their publication should be the responsibility of the secretary and not the editor.
71. Every publication connected with the Branch should be published with the approval of the secretary.
72. If the secretary and the editor cannot see their way clear to publish a certain report or article, this should be brought to the attention of the Board, on condition that when it discussed the editor should participate.
73. Every person who decides to become a member of VATRA promises to obey the constitution and the by-laws without question.
73. A delegate may represent as many as three branches and combine the votes thereof. But the votes this combined should not come to more than three.
74. Albanian women may be admitted as members of VATRA with all the rights of other members.
75. Bonafide students pay only half of the membership fee.
76. Every change made in the constitution and the by-laws by a convention can be made only by a two-thirds vote of the convention.
77. This constitution and by-laws were voted on by the branches of VATRA on the 2nd of October, 1926.
78. This constitution and by-laws will be translated and published in English also, and a copy of it will be deposited with the authorities of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
NAME AND ADDRESS
The name of the organization is “The Pan-Albanian Federation of America VATRA (THE HEARTH) Inc.” (Hereinafter sometimes referred to as “VATRA” or “Federation”)
The central office of VATRA is currently located at 2437 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458.
- To promote among Albanians living in the United
States of America (“America” or “USA”) and, through them, among Albanians
wherever they may live (Albania, Kosova, other ethnic regions and countries
throughout the world) the spirit of helping one another and of love for the
motherland and for the nation, by means of patriotic activities, conferences,
symposiums and publishing books and magazines.
- To promote among them respect and love for the Constitution, laws, and institutions of the USA Albania and other democratic countries where they live; to strengthen friendly relations among Albanians and American citizens and those of other countries.
- To support the learning of the English and Albanian languages, the history of USA, Albania and of other countries where they live, and the sentiment of reciprocal respect among the respective nationals.
- To morally support the efforts for the betterment of Federation members and of other Albanians, aiming for a strong and unified community in harmony and enrichment in cultural life.
THE SPIRIT OF VATRA
- VATRA does not involve itself in election- related political activities (e.g. activity directed at influencing people to vote for or against candidates and/or ballot initiatives), but it does conduct cultural and social activities and supports integration of Albanians living in the USA, so they can become active with a positive impact.
- VATRA supports the principle of national unification by lawful and democratic means, pursuing initially integration among Albanians in terms of unification of customs, education, free market, sports and so
- VATRA supports programs of any political force or affiliation with a democratic spirit in Albanian territories seeking the improvement of living conditions, respect for basic human rights for the citizens; engaging in protection and preservation of moral values of ethnic heritage and in protecting of integrity and sovereignty of the country, and the rights of Albanians in the territories outside the state borders.
- Any Albanian or friend of Albanians living in the USA or Canada, who is 18 years or older, and is of good conduct and respectful of the laws, may request to become a member of VATRA. A member must be tolerant and respect thoughts and ideas of others; must obey the Constitution, and must believe in principles and rules of democracy; must feel the need to help the national cause through VATRA.
- To enroll in VATRA, a person can apply directly at the Central Office or at a VATRA branch near his or her residence. Application is completed by filling out the enrollment form, signing it and sending it in with payment of annual dues. When the application for membership is approved, the applicant will be notified and advised to affiliate with a VATRA branch closest to his/her residence.
- A person who knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the USA, the democratically elected government of Albania or of government of country of his/her residence where a branch of VATRA is located, by force, violence or other unlawful conduct, shall not be admitted in VATRA and, if such person is admitted due to lack of information or to the negligence of the admitting official, he/she will be expelled from VATRA .
- A person, who was a communist and willfully cooperated with the Sigurimi (Secret Police), whether in the courts, prosecution or investigations, or with enemy services (e.g. Yugoslav Secret Police, UDBA), and participated in the oppression and torture of innocent people shall not be permitted to join VATRA and if such a person is accidentally enrolled as a member, then the person will be expelled from VATRA and removed from the list of members.
- A person with ties to any people, groups or organizations involved in terrorist acts (“terrorist organizations”) and is involved in activities for benefit of the terrorist organization, including but not limited to supporting such terrorist organizations with money, articles, conferences or any other means, shall not be granted membership in VATRA. If such a person is enrolled as a member, then the person will be expelled from VATRA and removed from the list of members.
- A person, however honorable, whose conduct and activities is confrontational, argumentative and offensive to the officers of VATRA, whose words and actions repel people from VATRA, creating divisions and wasting time at meetings or publicly engaging in polemics and personal attacks verbally or in writing through newspapers or social media, shall not be accepted for membership in VATRA and if such a person is enrolled as a member, then the person will be expelled from VATRA and removed from the list of members.
(Article 10, modified and expanded)
VATRA revenue is generated from:
- Annual membership dues and newspaper Dielli subscriptions. The cost of membership dues and newspaper subscriptions are determined by the Convention of the VATRA Federation. When a change is not made, the previous year’s rate remains in effect.
- Publications (books or magazines), from advertisements and special holiday remarks in the newspaper Dielli.
- Properties owned by VATRA as well as different activities in the community (dinners, memorial events).
- Gifts and donations made by members or friends outside the Federation. Donations are kept in VATRA’s treasury even when they are donated for a particular event or initiative to be carried out in VATRA’s name like book promotions, logistics for VATRA delegations or guests. Donors, VATRA members or otherwise, are given a letter of appreciation which also serves as proof of donation.
- Fundraising events organized by VATRA for a particular cause.
Regarding publications, the name or names of the donor will be noted for their generous help.
THE EXECUTIVE BODY
- The Executive Body of VATRA Federation (formerly The Commission) is a small executing body comprised of eleven (11) officers elected every two (2) years by the Convention.
- The officers of the Executive Body are the President, two (2) Vice-Presidents, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and six officers.
- The officers of the Executive Body, who resigned at the end of their two (2)-year mandate, have the right to vote at the Convention along with elected delegates in proportion to the number of members.
THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF THE EXECUTIVE BODY
- At the first meeting after the Convention elections, the Executive Body determines the duties of its members of the Executive Body and may modify them at a later time if needed.
- The Executive Body assigns and determines, according to needs and events, VATRA representatives or delegates to travel to Albanian territories or other nations where Albanians reside throughout the world for a predetermined mission.
- No member of VATRA has the right to speak or represent VATRA without the explicit authorization of the President. Any member may self-identify as a VATRA member with pride and speak for himself/herself personally, however, no written or verbal statement shall be made in contradiction with VATRA, its Executive Body policies, positions, and Constitution (may be done only after publically resigning from VATRA).
- The Executive Body organizes the branches, accepts them into the Federation or removes them from the Federation’s list in accordance with the circumstances of their entry or expulsion from VATRA if they have not met conditions, not respected the Constitution of VATRA, instructions of the Convention or decisions of the Board of Directors of VATRA.
- The Executive Body is responsible for the hiring, firing, appointment and removal of all VATRA personnel and committee positions, whether paid or volunteer. The Executive Body, through the President, takes action on decisions that were made at the Convention and supports the President in carrying out his duties in accordance with the Constitution of VATRA. The Executive Body meets once a month or more often if required. Electronic communications (telephone, email, Skype, etc.) are maintained frequently between officers or others as needed.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- The VATRA Board of Directors is voted on at the Convention and it is the second-highest decision-making body after the Convention. Members are elected from a pool of VATRA members who have been members for at least two (2) years in good standing with a willingness to actively participate on the Board of Directors. The Convention determines the number of members on the Board of Directors, which is in proportion to the number of VATRA members as one (1) Board member for every 25 VATRA members. To calculate this proportion the numbers of registered VATRA members per branch as well as members at large are taken into account. In addition to the Board members in proportion to the number of VATRA members, the eleven (11) members of the Executive Body and the heads of each branch are automatically included on the Board. The Board of Directors meets four (4) times a year. If required it may meet more often.
- The President calls the meetings of the Board of Directors; he sets the date, time and place for the meeting as well as the agenda. The meeting must be announced at least one (1) week prior via email or the newspaper Dielli along with the corresponding agenda. The agenda may be modified at the start of the meeting. The meeting has the authority to make decisions only if a quorum is reached physically or with delegated votes (50+1).
- The Board of Directors elects the Advisory Board.
THE ADVISORY BOARD
- The Board of Directors elects the members of the Advisory Board. Members of the Advisory Board are determined to be veteran members of VATRA with a long history of contributing to VATRA.
- The Advisory Board is a counseling body that advises on the Federation’s administrative structures with the aim of promoting the highest values of VATRA membership and its history. The number of members on the Advisory Board is not specified.
- Members of the Advisory Board have the right but are not obligated to attend meetings of the Board of Directors where they may discuss matters of the day, however, they may not vote unless requested by the Board of Directors.
- The Convention is the highest governing body of VATRA, which is comprised of delegates who convene annually. After an Election Convention, there is a Working Convention with the following year being another Election Convention.
- The eldest member of VATRA in attendance opens the Convention and nominates the Chair of the Convention. The Chair asks the Convention for two (2) volunteers, a secretary, and a reporter, and then they begin the work of the Convention in accordance with the agenda, which is prepared by the Executive Body.
- Delegates with the authority to vote at the Convention are comprised of those individuals elected in proportion to the number of VATRA members; one (1) delegate per ten (10) members of VATRA, the eleven (11) members of the Executive Body and the heads of each branch.
- At the end of the first session, the Convention continues to the voting phase wherein only delegates participate; those who are previously accredited by the Executive Body on the basis of the conditions outlined in the Constitution and Amendments. If there is any contention regarding a name on the list or off the list, a commission is formed at the Convention in order to verify the credentials of the person or persons in question.
- The Chair reads the requirements aloud for a person to become president, Amendment 11, articles b and c, and requests that the delegates keep the aforementioned requirements in mind when proposing candidates. The nominating delegates or the actual nominee must articulate the qualifications of the nominee.
- If there is more than one (1) candidate for President, then voting proceeds through a secret ballot. If there is only one (1) candidate, voting is public (e.g. voice vote, etc.)
- After a brief break, the newly elected President proposes to the Convention coworkers by name: two vice-Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and six (6) other members of the Executive Body. If there is opposition to the names proposed, then it is decided by a vote. If candidates are voted down, then new names are proposed. The newly elected President presents a list for members of the Board of Directors for approval.
THE PRESIDENT OF VATRA
- The President of VATRA Federation is elected by the Convention to a two (2)-year term with the right to run for a second term, but a person may not be elected to a third consecutive term. A person who has served two consecutive terms as President may be elected to serve as President again once another person has served at least one term as President.
- To be a candidate for President, a person must be a VATRA member in good standing for at least five (5) years with experience in the workings of VATRA, concrete evidence of dedication to serving while respecting the Constitution and having displayed tolerance and respect for differing views while being respected and acceptable by the members and society at large.
- The candidate should be college educated with a command of at least English and Albanian languages both in written and verbal forms; the candidate should be suitable to represent VATRA in national and international settings.
- The following is subject to the President’s authority: the Executive Body, the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board, VATRA Foundation Fund, VATRA Foundation Inc., properties (the VATRA building), and the newspaper Dielli. The foundations and the newspaper are administered by people appointed by the Executive Body and approved by the Board of Directors who report and answer to the President and the Executive Body.
- The President and other VATRA officers are elected by the Convention and only the Convention can relieve them of their duties. If the President becomes incapacitated or is unable to carry out the duties of the position due to illness or wrongdoing, then a vice-President takes over temporarily with the approval of the Board of Directors. A member of the Board of Directors is elected to vice-President until an extraordinary Convention is held, which must take place within thirty (30) days. The Board of Directors must approve all temporary replacements.
VICE-PRESIDENTS OF VATRA
- The vice-Presidents help the President in carrying out the decisions of the Convention, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Body. Division of duties between the vice-Presidents is carried out in meetings of the Executive Body. One of the vice-Presidents or any member of the Executive Body must be elected as a member to the board of VATRA Foundation Inc.
- One of the vice-Presidents shall be charged with organizing
and cooperating with the branches, orchestrating activities with the community,
like dinners, visits, memorials, book promotions etc.
SECRETARY OF VATRA
- The VATRA Secretary is responsible for maintaining correspondences with the branches, with members at large and individuals outside the organization; maintaining meeting minutes, upkeep of the archives, sending notifications for meetings, and assisting the President in carrying out the decisions of the organs of VATRA.
- The Secretary stands in for the President and the vice-Presidents when they are not available.
TREASURER OF VATRA
- The VATRA Treasurer is a person considered trustworthy with enough familiarity and experience to take on the duty of safeguarding VATRA’s revenue.
- The Treasurer collects VATRA’s revenue (see Amendment 5) via check or cash, and immediately deposits it into the Federation’s account where it is also joined with online generated revenue.
- The bank account(s) signatories shall be in the Treasurer and the President’s name or another of a member of the Executive Body designated in writing by the President.
- The Treasurer shall maintain a Corporate Credit Card linked to VATRA’s bank account(s) as a tax-exempt organization under Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c) (7).
- The Treasurer makes expenditures and payments approved by the President in accordance with decisions made by the Executive Body and the applicable provisions of the Constitution.
- The Treasurer presents the financial report at every meeting of the Board of Directors and keeps the President informed on the status of the budget.
- VATRA Educational Fund
- The VATRA Educational Fund was created to help student VATRA members or families. This foundation is directed by a qualified person and assisted by one or two people proposed by the Foundation Director and approved by the Executive Body.
- The Director of the Foundation must be familiar with banking and criteria implementing these types of funds; competent in banking and communications with financial institutions, applying students, professors, teachers, and university staff.
- The Director is obligated to create legitimate opportunities for growing the fund and VATRA’s other organs must support those efforts.
- VATRA Foundation Inc.
- VATRA Foudation Inc. is a financial structure created by the Board of Directors for the purpose of raising funds for VATRA’s needs which is directed by a member of the Board of Directors.
- The Foundation was created and legally registered as a charity organization under Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c) (3), therefore donor contributions are tax-deductible. Donors are issued a proof of donation receipt for that purpose.
- Even though VATRA Foundation Inc. is a legal and independent entity with its own bylaws and board, it is exclusively used for VATRA’s needs and programs, within all legal parameters. Its board members must be VATRA members who have paid their membership dues.
- The President or the Treasurer of the Foundation present their financial report every four (4) months at each VATRA Board of Directors meeting while presenting their annual report at each Convention.
- VATRA Branches are created in cities or regions where groups of Albanians reside, who have an expressed willingness to help VATRA in its activities for the benefit of our national cause; at the founding meeting, the President must be in attendance or an officer of the Executive Body sent by the President. New members must be furnished with a copy of the Constitution and must be familiarized with VATRA’s spirit, aims, and programs along with obligations, expectations, and rights of members.
- A branch must have at least fifteen (15) members who elect their own leadership to include: president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and three members.
- The primary obligations of the branches are: to collect annual dues of the members and send them to the central office; to increase the number of members.
- In addition to the two primary obligations, the branches may and are encouraged to hold social activities in their respective communities in cooperation with the Executive Body.
- Branches should meet four times a year (after each meeting of the Board of Directors), to be informed of the Board of Directors’ activities wherein the head of each branch is a member ex officio.
- Branch leadership must prepare the list of members to include: name, address, email, phone number and status of membership dues. This list must be updated and sent to the Executive Body by mail or email. If a member does not answer the branch’s requests, the Executive Body must be notified.
- Prior to each Convention, all branch members must meet in order to elect delegates to represent the branch at the forthcoming Convention. The number of delegates is in proportion to the number of qualified members: one delegate per ten (10) active members. A qualified member is one who has paid dues for at least the previous two (2) years. Those who are not qualified members may not be delegates nor may vote for delegates. Therefore, if a branch has thirty (30) qualified members and other non-qualified members, it has the right to send only three delegates excluding the Branch president who is automatically a delegate.
- Branches should have their own reporter who chronicles the branch and the corresponding community’s activities in writing.
BRANCHES AND CENTRAL OFFICE RELATIONS
- The Executive Body maintains contact with the Branches through the Secretary and the official bulletin Dielli, as well as other correspondences by mail or email. The Branch President is simultaneously a member of the Board of Directors of VATRA.
- Branches must uphold the rules and obligations and communicate with the Executive Body in accordance with policies and procedures adopted by the Executive Board.
- Branches that are obligated by local laws to be registered with the state should do so as a Non-Profit Organization, and register as a Social Club under Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c) (7) but shall not register as a charitable organization “Tax Deductible” under Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c) (3) wherein donations are deducted from taxable income.
- VATRA publishes the newspaper Dielli online and in print. Its purpose is to provide VATRA members and all Albanians a wide variety of information. The newspaper will consider national issues while presenting the past and possibilities for the future; it will describe the rights of Albanians living outside the national borders in the spirit of international rights and the rights of the places in which they live. Dielli is VATRA’s voice.
- The newspaper Dielli is published in Albanian and English; topics include news, current events, culture, science, academics, literature, sports, etc., member profiles, branches, and the community.
- VATRA publishes -when it can and the opportunity arises- books with national significance in history and culture, articles from academic conferences and seminar papers.