Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

From time to time, Odd Fellows ask me: “What can my Lodge do for the community?” The mere fact that I’m being asked the question is a very good thing. It shows me a member who is interested in doing good works in his or her community, and just needs some help coming up with ideas on how to accomplish that. And I cannot over-emphasize the importance of community involvement. Let me put it bluntly: To sustain itself and grow in the 21st Century, an Odd Fellows Lodge must become part of its community and must involve itself in that community. For a Lodge to, essentially, remain hidden within its own four walls is a sure recipe for slow decline. That Lodge will simply not attract new members, and without new members, the Lodge will diminish. The proof is right before our eyes. Where once we had over 400 active Odd Fellows Lodges in California, we now have less than 120.

“What can my Lodge do for the community?” Plenty. There are some active Lodges in California that engage in dozens and dozens of different programs and community events, providing enjoyment and fulfillment to the Lodge members, recognition and public attention for the Lodge, and real help to community beneficiaries. Let us not forget that the Odd Fellows derived our unique name back in the 18th Century because (oddly) we helped others.

To help answer the question of “What can my Lodge do for the community?” allow me to cite a recent example from an active Lodge – my own Davis Lodge #169. My Lodge is active in our surrounding city and county every month of the year, but allow me to mention one particularly active month – April 2015. The level of our activity ultimately drew the attention of our local daily newspaper, the Davis Enterprise, which gave the Davis Lodge a “cheer” in its weekly “Cheers and Jeers ” editorial, read by thousands of local residents. I have attached the on-line version of the editorial (the newspaper has both a print and an on-line edition), and have also embedded the editorial below. Here are some of the community activities we engaged in during the month of April:

  • A free Blues Concert at the Lodge open to the public, which attracted a large number of residents. The event was free and open to all ages. Even though free, folks donated money which all went to the musicians.
  • Bingo for the community at the Lodge Hall which raised money for Camp Kesem – a local effort to raise money to send children of cancer survivors to summer camp, with expenses paid.
  • Breakfast with Bunny for the children. The children got breakfast, did an egg hunt, hadd a carnival, did arts and crafts, and got to meet “the Bunny”.
  • Hosted our annual Picnic Day Pancake Breakfast at the Lodge, which provided breakfast for just $5 (children under 5 free) – we were busy all morning.
  • The Lodge entered a float in the annual Picnic Day Parade – completely constructed by Lodge members – which won the award for “Best Theme Representation”, viewed by thousands along the parade route.
  • During the large Picnic Day celebration, the Lodge Hall was used as the command center and rest station for local law enforcement.
  • The Lodge hosted a musical benefit for a community radio station.
  • In April, the Lodge celebrated the 145th anniversary of its charter (in 1870) by holding a birthday party, opening the Lodge up to the community for tours, history talks, food and cake.
  • The annual Taste of Davis (at the Lodge Hall) will showcase some 26 restaurants, wineries, breweries, dessert houses for the townsfolk – about 300 locals are expected to attend. The beneficiary of this event is the Elderly Nutrition Program in the community.

But there is a story behind the story. In addition to providing community and charitable benefits, the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall and Odd Fellows activities were seen or visited by thousands of local residents. The Odd Fellows received considerable local publicity. At the 145th anniversary party, the Odd Fellows received a Joint Resolution of recognition from the California State Assembly and the California State Senate, presented by a State Senator. And, significantly, at the 145th anniversary party, five local residents submitted application forms seeking to join the Odd Fellows Lodge, and several more applications are pending.

Certainly, not every Lodge will be in a position to have a month like this one. But every Lodge can engage in some level of community involvement. It’s good for the members, it’s good for the Lodge, and it’s good for the community. Sovereign Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge both recognized and support the effort by Odd Fellows and local Lodges to engage in community activities. It’s just good for the Order. What sort of community activities? That’s completely up to the Lodge members. Every community is different, and your activities will be geared to your local culture and customs.

Every community can benefit from the help of an Odd Fellows Lodges. And every Odd Fellows Lodge will benefit from helping its community.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master


Cheers and Jeers: Odd Fellows grab hold of April
By Our View
From page B4 | April 24, 2015 |
We offer our cheers and jeers for local newsmakers as we look back over the previous week:

CHEERS to the Odd Fellows Lodge for an April packed with community service. They put on a free blues concert for the town with local musicians on April 2; Breakfast with the Bunny for the kids on April 4; bingo to benefit Camp Kesem, a summer camp experience for children of cancer victims, on April 12; an open house for the community on April 13 for the lodge’s 145th anniversary; and a Picnic Day Pancake Breakfast on April 18. This Saturday, the lodge sponsors a benefit for local radio station KDRT, and on Sunday, its members are doing a benefit for the campus radio station KDVS. And next Thursday, April 30, the lodge hosts “A Taste of Davis,” showcasing 26 local restaurants, wineries and breweries.

Picnic Day was especially busy. Aside from entering a float that won the award for Best Theme Representation in the Picnic Day Parade, the Odd Fellows Hall was open for use by law-enforcement officers as a command center, and as a place for them to rest and relax.
Whew! Thanks, Odd Fellows, for all you do for our community.

JEERS to the state of California’s blanket targets for water reduction. For a city like Davis, which already was conserving before Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandates, it will be a lot harder to meet the 28-percent target than for places where water use was much higher before the drought started to bite.
With every city held to the same standard (and without any real explanation of how the state came up with the 28-percent figure) it smacks of the usual blind, top-down thinking that typically comes out of Sacramento.

It’s going to take some serious creative thinking on the part of city leaders to come up with ways to get our consumption down to that level.

CHEERS to the post-Picnic Day cleanup job. Has downtown ever been this clean on the Morning After? The city’s public relations manager, Bob Bowen, gives the credit to volunteers from among UC Davis students, community and Girl Scouts, under the direction of Jenna Dair of the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and Paul Cody of the Center for Student Involvement and Picnic Day.

Portable toilets were coordinated by the city of Davis and sponsored by UCD and participating downtown businesses.

CHEERS to the downtown landscaping. It really looks like spring with the planters at various intersections blooming. Great choice of flowers by the city, and good job by the crews making them look good.

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