DMC – And other good things

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

A couple of weeks ago I listed some things that my own Lodge – Davis, California #169 – was doing during the corona virus crisis to help members, help the community, help our Lodge tenants, and implement the use of video technology to “meet”. I invited other Lodges to send in their ideas. Here are some that I have received.

During virtually every crisis over the last 200 years, Odd Fellows have stepped up to help each other, and also to reach out into the greater community. We continue to do what we can to fulfill the great admonition of Odd Fellowship: “To elevate the character of man.”

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California


Dave,

Greetings and thank you for continuing your tireless publication of the DMC Newsletter!

After reading this latest issue I want to share another aspect of this new reality we face, rents from our tenants. Most lodges have tenants and benefit from the revenue stream of their rents. Ocean View Lodge has two tenants who run lively and successful businesses in our building, they are partners we want to support in the terrible financial situation they find themselves in because we want them to survive.

We instituted a plan of rent relief which we feel is mutually beneficial. We have divided the rent into equal thirds. One third is due as usual, One third is deferred until a later date and one third is forgiven as our charitable contribution. The deferred third may possibly be recovered via SBA loans/grants, a benefit to both tenant and landlord.

FYI in FLT, Joe Brennan
Ocean View Lodge, Secretary


Hi Dave;

Nice communication. Since you asked….

Bay View Lodge 109 in Redwood City is conducting our regular twice per month meetings via Zoom. In fact, we’ve had a couple members join the Zoom meetings that typically never come to the in-person meetings! We’ve also made two emergency donations to local organizations who are specifically helping the homeless in our area to stay safe and preferably get off the streets during this time: Street Life Ministries and St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room. Finally, we were able to secure 2,500 sugical face masks and donated to PAMF Sutter Health Medical Center in San Carlos. That Medical Center, incidentally, has as its top administrator our Brother and current Vice Grand Raymond Fellers. We are so proud of Raymond! He is working very long hours, and he led the effort to create a drive through testing and respitory clinic — set-up in two days — serving the greater SF Peninsula community. Raymond is truly one of the front line heros here locally.

Stay safe and healthy,

Steven Koury
Secretary, Bay View Lodge 109
cell 650-922-7457


Dave:

I hope all is well. One of our new members, Oscar Ortega, runs a charity in a low income neighborhood. www.livedexperiences.org He has been feeding residents. We are supporting him with masks, gloves and donations. We have been reaching out via phone and text messages. We had our first Zoom meeting last Tuesday. We will have another one this Tuesday. These have been social type calls to catch up and see if anyone needs help.

I will send you some photos from Oscar’s operation.

Stay safe and healthy!!!

FLT

Ed Burns
Oceanside Lodge #346


Morse Lodge #257 has communicated regularity with its members via email and phone encouraging its members to carry out a number of projects;

1. How to make one’s own Face mask Please follow this link for step-by-step instructions to sew a face mask. https://sarahmaker.com/how-to-sew-a-surgical-face-mask-for-hospitals-free-pattern/
2. Donating Blood as Blood Banks are facing shortages
3. Check in with our elderly neighbors. Offer to pick up their groceries or other essentials.
4. Will continue to donate to charities in this time of need, including the food pantry in SF’s Tenderloin District, which is still open.
5. For the Lodge’s ongoing project, continue collecting the following newspapers and old towels for the PHS/SPCA, personal care items for our Stockings for the Homeless Project, Coats, jackets and winter accessories for One Warm Coat, 9 inch aluminum pie pans for our Pie Baking for St. Anthony’s Dining Room project.

Berkeley Lodge #270 has conducted a successful regular business meeting (not using signs, password, gavel etc.) via Zoom video and has actively stayed in contact on a regular basis with its members via email and phone.

The seven (7) trustees of the Lodge have been especially active and to date has conducted two Zoom trustees meetings to ensure that the 47,000 sq ft building with its 24 tenants that include retail and office space remain sterile clean, well maintained and safe.
The Lodge Building is located one block from Berkeley downtown and the main campus of the University of California – Berkeley of which many of the Lodge’s retail tenants count on for their business.

The top priority is to try and ensure that the Lodge’s tenants stay in business and address their concerns. For those tenants ( primarily retail) who share the common area maintenance expenses, the lodge has agreed to not charge those fees until school comes back September 1st (value 10% per month).Four tenants requested a deferment of their rent for May which the Lodge has agreed to.
The Lodge has also encourage all tenants to sign up for the Federal Payroll Protection Program. SBA loans as well to seeking out City of Berkeley Grants being offered to small businesses. The Lodge Building also has a payroll and has filed for Federal Payroll Protection to mitigate the drop in rent anticipated for the coming months.

Rita Cooper, Trustee


Our new COVID Relief Committee is ready to help Odd Fellows. If you are a senior citizen or at risk, we are willing to purchase supplies for you. It is expected that payment will be made at the time of delivery.

Here is how you start:

1. Use request form. Fill out the simple request form and submit it. You will be asked to provide us your name, address, phone number, email address, and list of supplies needed. If you have a preferred grocery store, specify it. Typically, our volunteers will only go to one grocery store for you. If you prefer certain brands of supplies, specify. If no brand preference is given, the volunteer will use their discretion, which could include purchasing generic or store brands. If you request a prescription pickup, make sure the pharmacy has all the information they need and that the volunteer has any documentation they may need.

Another option: If you don’t want to use the form, send us an email with your list of supplies and preferences and contact information

2. Filling your request. Our goal is to fill each request within 24 hours. When we receive a request, we will connect you with a volunteer and they will call to confirm details. If you have not heard from me or a volunteer within two hours of your request submission, feel free to follow up by email or phone call to me.

3. Delivery of supplies. The volunteer will deliver your supplies to you and will collect payment for the purchases.

Want to volunteer? If you would like to volunteer, please contact me.

We are trying to take care of our Odd Fellow family. Thanks to the volunteers!

Dave Reed

Davis Lodge #169

The Importance of Fraternity and Friendship

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

I just received the message, below, from Brother Bill Murphy, who served as the Grand Master of the Jurisdiction of British Columbia. In these difficult and challenging times, it’s worthwhile to remember and reflect on how much the fraternity and friendship of Odd Fellowship means to each of us.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California


Sisters and Brothers,
A few weeks ago in our Columbia#2 Odd Fellows meeting our Chaplin, Eric Bramble said his opening prayer. In his prayer he mentioned how we are all pieces in the game of life. He compared it to the game of Jenga. The game where you have a tower of blocks and slowly remove one block at a time until it all falls down. A day or two later I went to a “celebration of life” for a friend who had just passed away. As the pictures of my friend were shown on the screen I started to feel as though a Jenga piece had been removed from my life. One less block. All week, Brother Eric’s words just kept resonating with me. As I get older, I am sure to see many more pieces fall from my pile of Jenga blocks. My friend Bryce is gone, John isn’t here anymore, Bruce is gone and Marion too. Any day now my wonderful father-in-law will soon pass. Each a little block pulled from the Jenga tower.

What helped build this wonderful pile of blocks that I call my life? I would have to say Odd Fellows had a huge impact. Without Odd Fellows I would have met neither Brother Gordie Moffat nor Brother Gordie Gale. Scotty, Jeff and Josh wouldn’t have been blocks in my life. Would I have never met Brother Alex, Andy, Jeremy or Stuart? Nope, not a one of them. How about Nic, Jon, Ian, Tim, Shad, Derek and all the other Brothers? None them either. The Members from Victoria#1, I wouldn’t know most of them either. And Sisters, Chelsey, Shaunessey, Twanya, Valerie. Jean and Debbie, would I have ever met any of them? Nope, not a one of them either. Nor any of the other wonderful Sisters. So you can see how Brother after Brother, Sister after Sister they have helped shape the pile of Jenga blocks that I call my life. Each and everyone of you has become a small but truly important piece. I may lean on you and should you need to, you can definitely lean on me. I thank you and Odd Fellows for each block. Without Odd Fellows my stack of blocks would be so much smaller. I would have never met men and women in Vancouver and Chilliwack, California and beyond that today I call my Brothers and Sisters. I wouldn’t have been able to help in my community without my Odd Fellows block. We are that bundle of sticks , but we are a stack of blocks too.

Each and every one of you, please stay strong because you are my strength and I love you for it.

In Fraternal Love.
Bro Bill Murphy
JPGM of GL of BC

DMC – COVID-19: Interesting Times

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

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – The Nobility of the IOOF

Most of us probably never connect the word “nobility” and Odd Fellows together, but sometimes I feel excited by seeing those among us who appear to derive great satisfaction in doing a lot for little or no pay.

Being a good Odd Fellow often calls for more than a handshake or smile. It often entails a difficult decision, an honest discussion, or efforts not delineated in any code book. Many lodges have at least one or two members who are constantly striving to make improvements, coordinate events, or manage communications between lodge members. Often, these are the very things we don’t see or simply take for granted. There are many members who have overseen certain events or other facets within the order for decades, and yet we only rarely even notice them. I’m sure each of us could think of dozens of members such as these.

The DMC has often talked about the diminishment of the order, and in many ways the order is diminishing, but some of this is inevitable, because the world itself is changing, evolving, becoming more urgent and yet also more private. How can any of us survive against this flow of the current of progress? One answer is to look at these heroic individuals who work tirelessly at their favorite events, who lead the charge to change, evolve, and yet retain the sanity of the order. It’s quite a dilemma, to stay true to the Odd Fellows tradition, and yet to attract new members. Some would call it impossible. But we can see from several examples that it is possible. If I were to name them individually, some would seem to be almost anti-change, or evolution, but by their struggles they make the case for an Odd Fellows future. Think of them yourself. We are all inspired by them, to both keep going, and to feel a bit more secure about our future.

Our order is like a family business, passed on for generations. Sometimes bejeweled, sometimes bedraggled. It’s not easy, pushing for a continuum, but it is something that can be larger than any of us, and yet it contains a bit of each of our souls. How do we ensure that our order continues? By honoring those who keep mushing on, by seeing that the world is not so bad if we see ourselves within it, and by helping those with the big work ethics and pure hearts by not being a hindrance. Clearly, we have survived as an order for many years, and we can survive for many more if we honor those who carry the load, who lead by example, and light the way with the brilliance of their leadership.

In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles

DMC – Ready to Grow

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

California is the most populace jurisdiction within the Sovereign Grand Lodge. Over the past five years, California has really ramped up its focus on membership development and the results are encouraging. Prior to 2015, our jurisdiction (like most every other jurisdiction) showed a decline in membership year after year and decade after decade. Starting in 2015, however, with our renewed emphasis on bringing in new members, California has either shown modest increases in membership or has shown a steady state. At a minimum, we have stopped the sharp declines in our membership statistics.

I have some very preliminary numbers for California, and I wish to share them with you at this time. The numbers shown are for “dues paying members”.

At the top of the membership food chain we have 4 Lodges showing 200 or more members. Following that peak, we have 3 Lodges with 100 or more members, and 3 Lodges which have memberships in the 75-99 range. These 10 Lodges comprise 40% of the membership of California.

Next, we have 12 Lodges in the 50-74 members range; another 31 Lodges in the 25-49 member range; 27 Lodges in the 15-24 member range; and finally, we have 32 Lodges with 14 or fewer members. (And, included within those 32 Lodges with 14 or fewer members are fully 12 Lodges that show 9 or fewer members on their books.)

Of all our Lodges, 38 showed a net gain of members (in other words, an increase in members in 2019 from the totals in 2018). On the flip side were 42 Lodges which showed a net loss of members (that is, the number of members decreased from 2018 to 2019). And then there were 32 Lodges that maintained a steady state – no increase or decrease in membership – a net zero change between 2018 and 2019.

What can we learn from these numbers?

1. Seven of our Lodges reflected significant net gains , showing membership number increases in the double digits. Recognizing these achievements, here is the honor roll showing net increases in membership from 2018 to 2019:

Morse Lodge #257: 50 to 75, a net increase of 25
Franco-American Lodge #207: 115 to 139, a net increase of 24
Oceanview Lodge #143: 69 to 93, a net increase of 24
Costa Mesa Lodge #29: 11 to 28, a net increase of 17
Davis Lodge #169: 283 to 296, a net increase of 13
Odin Lodge #393: 13 to 25, a net increase of 12
Saratoga Lodge #428: 40 to 51, a net increase of 11

At DMC we commend all 38 of the Lodges that showed increases in membership. These Lodges show what effective membership programs can accomplish, and maintain the future of the Order.

2. We hope the 32 Lodges that maintained a steady state (no increase and no decrease) will recognize that they are SO CLOSE to showing a net gain. A little extra effort will put these Lodges in the “net gain” category.

3. I am sure that the 42 Lodges that showed a net loss of members are well aware of their situations. And I am sure that there, perhaps, 42 reasons for the declines. In many cases, the declines were very small – perhaps a net loss of only 1 or 2 members. In some cases, the Lodges were clearing out their books – to accurately reflect true membership – and in the long run that is a very good thing. But in some cases, the losses were significant and this should be a yellow caution flag for the Lodges that experienced such significant losses.

4. Of great concern are the 12 Lodges that show 9 or fewer dues paying members on their books. In my opinion, any Lodge with 9 of fewer members is a potential red flag. Understanding that it is a rare event for all members to attend all meetings, such small-membership Lodges will inevitably have quorum issues. And in such very small Lodges, the loss of even one member can be devastating.

The statistic that continues to concern me is the aggregation of membership numbers in the largest of our Lodges, and the diminution of membership numbers in the very smallest of our Lodges. I have seen this trend unfolding for years. It shows me that our Order may be a mile wide and an inch deep.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – Celebrating International Women’s Day

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Today – March 8 – is International Women’s Day, a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political achievements of women. It seems like a poignantly appropriate day for this article.

Two decades ago, Odd Fellowship made a momentous (and long-overdue) decision to admit women as members of Odd Fellows Lodges. The fact that Odd Fellowship was the first fraternal order to admit women into a “separate but equal” entity called the Rebekahs was certainly ground-breaking, noteworthy and significant when it happened in the 19th Century – at the time, none of the hundreds of fraternal orders that existed admitted women.

But our fraternal order still needed to take another step – the step of opening Odd Fellows Lodge membership to women. And that penultimate event happened at the start of the 21st Century. The first women to become Odd Fellows joined Lodges in 2000 and 2001.

Odd Fellowship took yet another major and welcomed step toward true equality when, over the last two years, it adopted a non-discrimination statement, and required all Lodges to include that non-discrimination statement in the Lodge Bylaws. Odd Fellowship is committed to rejecting discrimination in its many forms – including discrimination based on gender.

Not only do these policies make sense for a country that believes all people are created equal, it makes practical sense for a fraternal order that has seen a significant membership decline over the past three generations. Why should membership be denied to 50% of our population?

So, now that we are in the Year 2020, the question must be asked: Why do we still have Odd Fellows Lodges that have no members, and have never had members, who are female?

It’s time. Frankly, it’s overdue. Odd Fellowship needs to take that final and ultimate step toward equality by ensuring that every Lodge of Odd Fellows admits women as members.

We have all heard the “reasons” and the “excuses” offered by the all-male Lodges. And these reasons and excuses might hold water for a year or two. But 20 years?

The most common reason or excuse that we hear is: “Women have not applied.” After 20 years, that “excuse” sounds shallow and contrived. There is little doubt that the members of that all-male Lodge could certainly have recruited and admitted women at some point over those two decades. The only conclusion that can be reached after 20 years is that the all male membership has made a conscious decision to keep women out, or has simply turned a collective blind eye to the problem. And that flies in the face of the express policies of our Order.

The all male Lodges should welcome women as members, not fear them. Lodges that have admitted women – and there are many of them – have not dried up and blown away. In fact, just the opposite. These are energetic and growing Lodges. My own Lodge – Davis #169 – has over 300 members and 43% of them are women. More importantly, women have held, and continue to hold, every position of significance in the Lodge, including Noble Grand, Vice Grand, Secretary, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Trustee, Chaplain, Conductor and Warden. They have served with deliberation and distinction, and the Lodge is stronger for it.

On this International Women’s Day, Odd Fellowship should recommit itself to the goal of true equality.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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