Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
We live in interesting times. COVID-19. Corona virus. Social distancing. Sheltering at home. These terms were not in our lexicon last December, but since last month they are terms that are imbedded in our brains and that have dramatically altered our lives. The terrible numbers change daily, but at the time I write this article, statistics show well over 1 million people on this planet have already contracted this virus, including more than 220,000 Americans. Worldwide over 54,000 people have died, including over 5,000 deaths in this country. In California, over 9,900 have the virus and the death toll is now over 200.
Yet we are not powerless. Those Governors and local leaders who have ordered or directed us – early in time – to shelter in place are to be commended. We all know the drill: stay home, keep at least 6-feet away from others not in your home, wash your hands with soap and warm water often, keep your hands away from your face. These are important rules to keep us safe and alive. These efforts will help flatten the curve of virus infections, will prevent the overwhelming of our health care systems, and will eventually get us through this scourge.
The COVID-19 crisis has not only affected us as individuals, but it has dramatically affected our fraternal order. Lodges have closed their doors, staff have been laid off, meetings have been canceled, events have been postponed. Yet, in the spirit of F-L-T, Lodge members can continue to stay engaged and connected. I wanted to use this DMC Newsletter to give you some ideas on what your Lodge members can do during this crisis to allow some semblance of connection and fraternity. Here are some things that my Lodge – Davis #169 in California – has implemented. (We have the advantage that all the members of our Lodge are connected, and use, email.) And I invite other Lodges and members to send along to me your ideas – which I will share in a future DMC Newsletter. Here is what we have done in the Davis Lodge:
* One of our members, Dave Reed, with the permission of our Noble Grand Diana Schmiegel, and in the best traditions of Odd Fellowship, formed a special “Covid Relief Committee” of members (with dozens of volunteers) who are available to help out older or disabled members who need groceries, medications, or supplies delivered. The volunteers will pick up and safely deliver the items to the member’s front doors.
* Another member, Stewart Savage, maintains and updates our Lodge website to keep members updated and informed. The Lodge has an excellent website with many pages of information online.
* Yet another member of the Lodge, Kevin Sitz, has instituted “virtual happy hours” every Monday and every Thursday at 6 p.m. Utilizing Zoom, members get together to see each other online, to chat, bring each other up-to-date, and make sure everyone is doing as well as can be expected. Last Zoom gathering had over 20 members participating.
* Three weeks ago, I started sending, via email, 10 trivia questions to all members (and applicants for membership). The next day, I sent another set plus answers to yesterday’s questions. And we continue it daily. It has proven to be a fun diversion, and helps to connect us.
* The Lodge has a full commercial kitchen on our first floor. We have rented it out to a local chef who is preparing very reasonably-priced meals that he and his wife deliver to your home. There is no delivery charge. This is a wonderful service not only to the public, but to Odd Fellows and Rebekahs.
* Two of our younger members maintain an online “Odd Bulletin Board” which connect members with items to buy, items to sell, and other products and services. This bulletin board is slowly morphing to identify online connections like our Zoom gatherings.
* One of our newer members – who is active with a local bike exchange – has offered free repairs of bikes every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. till noon for members who wish to go on bike rides while maintaining social distancing. Going on bike rides is good exercise and is still permitted notwithstanding sheltering at home.
* On April 11, 2020, our Lodge will celebrate the 150th anniversary of our chartering and institution. We have scheduled a special virtual anniversary party that afternoon, on Zoom, complete with a toast to our past, our present, and our future.
What is your Lodge doing in our current “reality”? Send me your thoughts and I will share them with the DMC list.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California