Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Business as usual will not sustain our Order. Business as usual as caused our Order to lose members and Lodges for the past 75 years. We can’t continue doing what we have been doing for the past three generations and expect a different result. Odd Fellows Lodges of the future must become three-dimensional Lodges. It’s not enough for a Lodge to emphasize the rich history and ritual of our Order. That is vitally important, but is only one dimension of a successful Lodge. The other two dimensions are equally important. We are, after all, a fraternal Order, so the Lodge must be a social and fun place for the members and future members. And the third dimension requires us to get involved in the community, doing good works outside the four walls of the Lodge Hall. This is what the young men and women of the 21st Century expect – and this is what the successful and growing Lodges of the future must offer.
But we’re not going to just talk the talk in this newsletter. We’re going to walk the walk.
Here, for your reading pleasure, are 100 ideas to help your Lodge get involved in your community! You don’t have to scratch your head and wonder what it is that your Lodge could do to be involved in your community. Here are 100 options. Surely, there is an idea or two that is right for YOUR Lodge. At a minimum, these ideas should get your own creative juices flowing. Review these 100 ideas with your Lodge members. Have a discussion about the possibilities. And then come to an agreement about one, or two, or three that your Lodge wishes to pursue. You will find a lot of satisfaction in community involvement, and you will find community members who are interested in your Lodge.
These 100 ideas are the product of the Sovereign Grand Lodge Revitalization Committee. That committee was put together by the immediate Past SGM Jimmy Humphrey – a true progressive. Chairing that Revitalization Committee was our own Deputy Grand Master Peter Sellars. The committee did good work.
F – L – T
Jurisdiction of California
100 Ideas for Community Involvement
1. Participate in Adopt a Highway. For those not familiar with this, your organization agrees to pick up trash along a section of the highway at least quarterly and you get your name on a highway sign that says “Adopt-A-Highway” and the organization’s name.
2. Sponsor a booth at your county fair/fall and spring festival of your hometown and provide free water and have handouts about your local lodge.
3. Put together snack packs/ travel size toiletry items to be given to families of patients in ICU at the hospital all the while working as a volunteer at the hospital. Remember to include information about your local lodge with the items.
4. Volunteer at your local library to provide tutoring to at risk students in the local schools. We have a program here called CAPS (Children Are People) that provides this type of help. Our local Lodges provide school supplies on an ongoing basis.
5. Open your lodge hall for use of community functions.
6. Sponsor a “Make a Difference Dinner” and invite those within your community who have “made a difference”.
7. Have an Open House at the lodge hall and invite the community to come and learn about the Order.
8. Sponsor a local Scout Troop/Youth Sports Team.
9. Provide an activity packet to include coloring books, crayons, puzzle books etc. to be given to children in the local hospital. Remember to include information about your local lodge.
10. If you community has a Volunteer Fire Department sponsor a fundraising event to help raise funds for equipment.
11. Participate in several parades, city and/or community, every year. If there are no parades, organize one to celebrate various holidays (St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, etc.).
12. Become a docent for your historical society and specialize in fraternal organizations.
13. Partner with Habitat for Humanity.
14. Partner with Keep America Beautiful and serve on a regular basis.
15. Sponsor a community Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year’s Eve, etc. event every year.
16. Have a haunted house or a (people or pet) “best costume”contest for Halloween every year.
17. Sponsor Blood Drives several times throughout the year.
18. Sponsor/hold a talent show every year at your local fair or at an annual picnic, etc. ensuring that it happens every year.
19. Hold an annual “Hero” banquet to honor a local hero(es).
20. Have a gift wrap booth at the mall every year at Christmas and/or Mother’s Day or other important holiday.
21. Work with your local “Welcome Wagon” (or create one) to welcome those who move into your city/town with maps, lists of recommended barbers, etc.
22. Participate in a “Safety Break” for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc. serving refreshment at rest areas on your interstate highways.
23. Hold BBQ, homemade pie/ice cream, etc. contests.
24. Contact county social services to be put in touch with the local foster families network, and host a dinner at the Lodge for foster families.
25. Organize a “Breakfast with Santa” at your Lodge for community children and their families.
26. On the anniversary of your Lodge’s charter, open the Lodge up to the community for tours, snacks, and refreshments.
27. Work with 10-20 local restaurants and wineries to display their wares and samples at your Lodge in a “Taste of _________” for the community.
28. Sponsor a local softball, soccer, or baseball team.
29. Invite local musical groups to perform at the Lodge and open it up to the public.
30. Get a screen and equipment and show classic movies at the Lodge for the community – classic movie night.
31. Work with other community groups to organize a downtown clean-up and beautification day.
32. Partner with a local charitable group to host a Texas Hold ’em Poker tournament at the Lodge.
33. Let a local community group organize a fundraiser at your Lodge – you provide the Lodge, drinks and a spaghetti dinner at no cost to them.
34. Allow city entities to utilize your hall for things such as committee meetings, community court, police-community meetings, etc. free of charge.
35. Sponsor a town or city event by contributing seed money. These events are sometimes small weekly festivals, farmers markets, and food fairs.
36. Permit local authorities to set up surveillance cameras at your building for use of law enforcement tactics or the monitoring of town events.
37. Assist other worthy non-profits to use your facilities for their luncheons or dinner events. (We allow veterans groups to use our facility for their larger annual events) free.
38. Promote readings by book writers or poets and invite the public.
39. Promote the artworks of members or non-members and hold an art showing at the hall.
40. On an international level, involve your lodge in a Sister Cities Program. The national convention permits fraternal organizations to volunteer and promote their organization in presentation during its annual flag parade. (In California, our IOOF flag was accepted at part of the International Parade of Flags.)
41. Attend a local sporting event (i.e. MLB, NFL, NHL, NCAA) with all of the members wearing fun t-shirts or shirts or jackets with IOOF logo.
42. Establish a Facebook page open to the public to comment, etc. Show the public our images and share our history and upcoming events.
43. Created a program at post-secondary education institutions that involve Brothers and Sisters from around the world providing on-site assistance to new students. This could include locating the nearest medical facilities, legal services, banking, professional counseling services, local Odd Fellow and Rebekah lodges that could be used for study, etc.
44. Provide an after school program in the community for children when school is let out. Perhaps, as an Order, we should look to open facilities worldwide staffed by trained youth counselors.
45. Provide a program that takes homeless people in the community and allows them the opportunity to become a productive part of it by providing them an opportunity to work by keeping the city cleaner as they are given an hourly wage. It would be ideal to set up a national “clean sweep” program in every city or town that an Odd Fellow or Rebekah lodge exists. The program would require full time employees who would be involved closely with town or city representatives, business owners, and private individuals to coordinate work opportunities for the people within the program. As Odd Fellows and Rebekahs we would provide funds, job leads, tools and mentorship to the participants.
46. Provide a daylong session for the low income, homeless and forgotten people in our communities. The program would require the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs to enlist the volunteer services of optometrists, dentists, doctors and financial councilors, etc., all of which are potential members. It would be our job to attract and secure these volunteers. We would also be responsible for securing the facilities, providing refreshments and meals for all participants. Donations for this are easily found from local businesses; the volunteers can come from anywhere.
47. Have a program that offers people travelling to medical facilities a place to stay with low cost meals while they are in treatment. It would be ideal to partner with senior homes and secure several rooms for those receiving outpatient treatment or for their accompanying partner. The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs would be responsible for booking the rooms and orientating the people to the city and the facility. Most senior homes have kitchens that provide meals at modest prices to residents, so the addition of 2 or 3 more is easily accommodated. If these people do not have the means to pay for rooms or meals, we could cover it.
48. Lodges should establish a small or large “Oktoberfest” or better yet “OddFest” where the community is invited to enjoy foods normally enjoyed at Oktoberfests, like sausages, boiled potatoes, etc. along with a selection of beer, soda, and more. Grand Lodges could promote this annual event across the nation. SGL could encourage all lodges to participate on a selected date.
49. Establish a regular fishing trip on a charter boat where the lodge pays the fee for parents and children. Free for non-members.
50. Firefighters Or U.S. Marine Reserve Toys For Tots Program. Request one of their barrels for Odd Fellows, guests and tenants to contribute Christmas gifts.
51. Share information of Odd Fellows History on Public Broadcasting Station.
52. Lodge members can volunteer to assist in food line or serve food at dining hall.
53. Lodge members can give blood and set up for a blood drive at the lodge hall.
54. Create a small Odd Fellows Museum in your Lodge displaying regalia, costumes, books, medals, etc. and invite the public in to visit around the time of the anniversary of your Lodge’s charter.
55. Create a tri-fold brochure, which talks about the Order and your Lodge – a great item to give potential new members.
56. Build a float for your local community parade.
57. Sponsor a local youth sports team.
58. Generate a press release on your Lodge during the anniversary of your charter, emphasizing what your Lodge does for the community.
59. Annual “Odd Fest”, a la “Oktoberfest”. Lodge/Grand Lodge organizes a day or a week of music, food, talent-sharing and fundraising in a certain community to benefit a certain cause or charity. At the end of the day or week, lodge or GL turns-over raised funds to the beneficiary.
60. Annual “Oddventure”: Lodge/GL organizes a hiking/touring/camping/gun training lessons or whatever “interesting outdoor event” that members and prospective members want to participate in.
61. Annual “5K-10K Odd Run” for a cause. Lodge/GL organizes run to benefit a certain charity or someone in need.
62. Annual “Meal Program” for the homeless or at the home shelter during Thanksgiving or Christmas season: Members of the lodge prepare food packs and tour around their community to look for people on the streets and give them food. Or, lodges coordinate with local shelters and volunteer serving food for the homeless as well as sponsor the food served (if possible).
63. Annual “Sports Fest”: Go to a basketball or tennis court or golf course to play sports to promote health to lodge members and prospective members or the community. Depends on the lodge members’ sports interest. They do not have to be very good at a particular sport.
64. Annual Movie/Game Night: Lodge plays a movie of interest, a new movie or a game (baseball/basketball, etc.) at the lodge hall, a member’s house or at the theater. Members prepare snacks, some drinks, popcorn and so on and just enjoy each other’s company while watching a movie or a game.
65. Annual Dinner/Lunch for a cause: Lodge cooks food and invites people to go to the lodge for a good meal or some snacks or some beer. Any donation will be received and proceeds will be donated to a particular cause or charity.
66. Annual Mardi Gras party or dance at the lodge hall: Lodge organizes a party at the lodge hall for people to meet others in the community and just enjoy. Awards given to best dancer or best costume, etc.
67. Annual “Prospect Night” or “Open House”: Lodge organizes open house at the lodge hall with invitations sent to various people at least a month or a week before. Food, snacks and drinks should be provided. There will be a video or PowerPoint presentation about the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, our history, what we do and what we aim to do. Brochures and application forms may be handed out.
68. Participate in any local parade or festival organized by the local city or town or help spearhead or organize the July 4th Parade or pumpkin fest in the town/city.
69. During town or city events, allow organizers to use your parking lot for a first aid station or for Porta-Johns.
70. If your building is being repaired or needs a new design, offer local mechanical drawing students or architecture students the chance to compete for a certain dollar amount scholarship or prize for the best design.
71. Establish a fund in your lodge for assisting individuals in the community who have dire issues and send a payment to that individual. Often, we read about a young cancer patient who cannot afford the bill, a loss in the family where the breadwinner has died, a fire where a family or individual loses everything, and so on.
72. Challenge each lodge member to do something good for someone out in the community on the day of a meeting and each member report such action or deed under Good of the Order.
73. As a lodge, join a local Historical Society to learn and share history with the community. Share the history of your lodge and the Order.
74. As a lodge, join a Chamber of Commerce to let the community know you take part in community interests. Often, those holding membership are included in a public listing. Let everyone see you are part of your community.
75. Hold a legal raffle (registered, abiding by state laws) and sell tickets in your community. Let the community know they are supporting a non-profit by purchasing tickets from the I.O.O.F.
76. Write an article on any significant historical facts of events concerning the lodge and submit to the media.
77. Volunteer to assist a local Veterans of Foreign Wars to place flag on tombstones of veterans.
78. The lodge may volunteer to clean up an old cemetery.
79. The lodge may volunteer services to assist in city events, as ushers and information personnel.
80. Organize a clean-up crew to clean up debris and other trash from shorelines, rivers, streams and creeks.
81. Invite the community into the hall to watch musicians of the lodge perform.
82. Invite the community into the hall to watch a chess tournament.
83. Invite the community into the hall to listen to poetry readings.
84. Invite the community into the hall to celebrate our 150th anniversary.
85. Invite the community into the hall for an open house.
86. Invite the community into the hall by offering to host a non-profit or community meeting at the lodge.
87. Invite the community into the hall to learn about Odd Fellows. Have pamphlets, food and punch.
88. Invite the community into the hall to sing Christmas carols.
89. Invite the community into the hall for an Easter egg hunt.
90. Invite the community into the hall for a Halloween Party.
91. Invite the community into the hall for a Dessert Party. Supply some desserts and invite people to (optionally) bring their favorite dessert.
92. For vacant property owned by the Lodges or Grand Lodges, members could establish a community garden.
93. Lodge members could clean up litter in areas of towns and cities on streets or roads.
94. Lodges who possess pressure washers can remove graffiti from vandalized surfaces in their communities.
95. Members can save pull-tabs from soda and beer cans and donate to nearest Ronald McDonald House.
96. Try tree-planting programs, if they are available in your area. These programs protect the environment.
97. Members can volunteer at pet rescue centers. People are always needed to clean cages, feed animals and assist with office details.
98. Provide an I.O.O.F. information table, alongside local college fraternities, after gaining permission, at a local college fair (for those campuses that invite outside organizations).
99. Establish a matching fund program in which the public contributes money via sponsorship to support foster children (and such programs), through a fundraiser activity; i.e. members swim lake, long distance bike ride, marathon dance, distance run, fishing tournament (most fish), field goal kicking, baseball throwing, football accuracy, hot dog or pie eating contest, and more.
100. Distribute inexpensive bottles of water to individuals who are indigent or otherwise without readily available water (i.e. those available workers who hang out at Home Depot, homeless people, and others). Some lodges have I.O.O.F-labeled bottles. This would enhance our image in the community as being a caring organization.