Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
An unusual thing has been happening at my home Lodge – Davis #169
For the last year, a month doesn’t go by that the Lodge isn’t contacted by one or two unsolicited prospective members. When I say “unsolicited” prospective members, I am referring to individuals who contact us directly, and not through a member sponsoring an applicant. These men and women contact us through our website, by e-mail, by phone, or they simply drop by our public events to talk to us about joining the Lodge.
Although unusual in 2015, I imagine that this is the way things were in the halcyon days of Odd Fellowship in the 19th and 20th Centuries, when over a million Americans called themselves Odd Fellows. In those heydays, Odd Fellows Lodges were the center of town – not just physically, but also in truth and spirit – a Lodge of leading citizens who were active and visible in those communities. Why is this happening in 2015 in Davis? For precisely the same reasons. This is a Lodge that is active and busy, and very visible. In addition to the meetings that are held like any other Lodge, this Lodge has 35 committees that cover the spectrum. These committees can be divided into three general categories.
First, there are the administrative committees that most Lodges have, that perform the functions required to operate a Lodge. These include, for example, a Finance Committee, Bylaws Committee, Visiting Committee, Membership & Initiation Committee, Installation Dinner Committee, and the like.
Second, the Lodge has a whole panoply of social committees that provide fun social outlets for the members. These are important. Without the “fun” part of our fraternal life, we would be a boring entity, indeed. These include, for example, a Good Fellowship Committee (that plans events for the entertainment of members and applicants such as wine country bus trips and Thursday evening social hours), a Wine Club (which meets once a month at the homes of members to do wine tasting), a Take a Hike Committee (which plans hikes in the country for members and their families, typically once each month), a Zymurgy (the art of beer brewing) Committee, a “OddtoberFest” Committee (which organizes the Lodge’s annual Oktoberfest), a Halloween Costume Party Committee (organizing an annual costume party for the members and friends), a New Year’s Eve Party Committee (organizing a big party on New Year’s Eve for the Lodge members and community), a Cigar Lounge Committee (sampling fine cigars), an Odd Poetry Committee (poetry reading once each month in front of the Lodge), a Picnic Day Float Committee (building a float for a local community parade), and many more. At the request of members, our Noble Grand recently approved the creation of a Davis Odd Fellows Theater Committee – to facilitate a group of our members who wanted to put on theatrical performances for the members and the public.
Third, the Lodge has a large assortment of community outreach committees that allow the members to perform good works in the community. Members (and applicants for membership) today, want to be involved in the community, locally and beyond, to help elevate the character of man. These committees include the Community Support Committee (which has a budget to contribute to worthy local causes and can organize co-hosted events at the Lodge for the benefit of local community and charitable groups), Music & Concerts Committee (which puts on monthly free musical concerts at Lodge, open to the public), the Bingo Committee (monthly bingo for the community, all proceeds going to a designated group each month), Breakfast with Santa Committee (for the children of the community), Taste of Davis Committee (hosting 24 local restaurants, wineries and breweries, open to the public), Breakfast with the Bunny Committee (kids get to meet “the Bunny”, find chocolate eggs and participate at a kid’s carnival), Odd Fellows Film Festival Committee (showing classic films at the Lodge, open to the public), Picnic Day Breakfast Committee (serving breakfast to the community during an annual major event at the local university), Social Services Committee (helping the hungry and folks with mental illness), and many more. Recently, the Noble Grand approved the creation of a Neighbors for Nepal Committee which is coordinating a major event featuring music and food to raise money for earthquake relief in Nepal.
If one or more members has a passion about a project, those members need only talk to the Noble Grand who can approve the creation of a new committee and the effort is launched. In other words, the Lodge doesn’t say “no” to creativity and new ideas – the Lodge says “yes”.
Every month, there are numerous events at the Lodge – sometimes as many as a dozen – open to the public. The Lodge makes sure that the events – both before and after – are well-publicized in the local press. It is these events which attract community members to the Lodge and which ultimately cause many of them to contact the Lodge about joining.
Does it work? Indeed, it does. The Lodge currently has 31 applicants for membership. In part because of the large number of applicants we receive, we do not interview, vote and initiate them right away. On the contrary, we make all applicants go through a process to ensure that they really do want to become members of our Lodge, and to ensure that the Lodge members really get to know the new members. This process of joining the Davis Lodge takes at least six months. During the six-month process, the prospective members learn about Odd Fellowship and the Lodge, attend a minimum number of events, and “interview” a minimum number of Lodge members. We call this six-month process of joining the Lodge, the “Pledge Process”. If any of the readers of this article are interested in learning more about the process, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
F – L – T
Jurisdiction of California