Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Rita Cooper served this Order as California’s Grand Chaplain last term, and currently continues to serve this Order as a member of the Grand Lodge Board of Directors. She has visited many of the Lodges in California, and offers a valuable insight in this newsletter. I am pleased to forward her article for your consideration.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master


It is generally considered that perception and reality are two different things. But in some cases the perception is the reality. For example, research has shown that a person’s opinion of another individual’s approachability, likeability, credibility and character is determined 50% by that other person’s appearance. Fifty percent!! Half of the original evaluation of a stranger is based on how he is dressed, how she is groomed, how he visually holds and presents himself. And this is before that stranger has said or done anything indicative of who he/she actually is. So the reality of that person, in the mind of the beholder is initially, created solely by appearance. And, as they say, you can change any impression but the first one.

Well, it works the same way with buildings and their occupants. Attractive exteriors draw attention, invite a closer look. They suggest what happens inside and what kind of people go into it. Interiors suggest who belongs inside, who will be comfortable there. To a very large extent, the character, the purpose, the vitality of a business or institution is largely perceived, by outsiders, to be the same as, or related to, that of the building that houses it.

Like many of our Odd Fellows, I have voiced concern about the steady erosion of our ranks and the need for aggressive, effective recruiting. But, as I have visited a number of our Lodges in the state, I couldn’t help but notice that although the facilities may be familiarly comfortable to long-time members, to new-comers they may seem outdated, worn and sad: old paint, shabby carpets, inadequate signage, out-of-style decor and furnishings. Sometimes the commercial tenants of the building are entirely out of character with our organization, at odds with the impression we want to give.

Few people are drawn to join a group whose facilities are rundown, musty looking and no longer in harmony with their urban or suburban environments. They want a “clubhouse” they can be proud of and be comfortable in. It’s fine for a building to look historically significant, but it should look alive and enduring. Most of us agree that we must recruit to rebuild our strength in numbers, to maintain our relevance in today’s society, to carry on our sacred Mission. I am saying that the buildings that house our Lodges must be a part of our recruiting effort, in fact the perceptions they create will be an important part, either positively or negatively.

So look around your Lodge with a critical eye, at both the exterior and interior, the signage, the furnishings, the decor, the hospitality facilities. Ask yourself, “What can be done to make it more inviting and reflective of the beauty and strength of our Fellowship?”. “What can we do with it to enhance our vital recruiting effort?”. Let’s talk about the changes and improvements that should be made. Let’s make the perception match the reality of our fraternal order. Contact me with your observations and suggestions.

Our Fellowship will prevail if we work together in Friendship, Love and Truth.


Rita Cooper
Director, Grand Lodge Board of Directors
Jurisdiction of California

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