Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
These are tough times for all of humanity. Today, the human race faces an enemy that does not discriminate – all human beings are now the target of a virus that preys on people, sickening and killing them. And as the old saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. History tells us that it is precisely during tough times when Odd Fellows get tough.
From our very origins as a fraternal order, Odd Fellowship started as a way to care for members during difficult times. In the 1800’s there were no systems in place for welfare, social security, health insurance, job placement or job protection. There were no insurance companies (except for businesses or the very wealthy), or government programs for health care, for sick benefits, for death benefits, for burials, or to care for widows and orphans. So, Odd Fellowship stepped up and stepped in. The history of the Order shows that we opened hospitals (not only for Odd Fellows but for the public at large), retirement homes, orphanages, and cemeteries. If a man of those days did not belong to a fraternal order, sickness and death meant poverty for the family. And so from this background grew the great admonitions of our Order to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, educate the orphan, and bury the dead.
Over the decades and centuries, tragedy would befall communities – in the form of a contagious illness, epidemics, fires, floods and earthquakes, food shortages, and wars. And over those decades and centuries, Odd Fellows stood in the front lines of defense of their brothers and sisters, and the community at large. And this great tradition of helping, of trying to elevate the character of mankind, continues to this day. We find ourselves face-to-face with the visage of a deadly virus that feeds on human beings. It is a worldwide plague – a pandemic – and before it runs its course, it will have impacted everyone on this planet.
In the face of tragedy and turmoil, it is inspiring to see members of our Order step up to help brothers and sisters, and to lend assistance to members of the the greater community. Every day I hear stories of Lodge members checking on the welfare of other members – particularly the most senior members – by phone, email, Facebook, Zoom or otherwise. Every day I hear about Lodges and Lodge members volunteering to help at local food banks, delivering food and supplies to folks who are home-bound, sewing masks for first responders and health care workers.
In the finest traditions of our Order, Odd Fellows are stepping up – strong and tough – to help each other, help the community, and help humanity.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California