As Secretary of the Davis Rebekah Lodge, I get all sorts of interesting mailings and communications. Late last week I received a letter from the Finance Committee of the Rebekah Assembly, which also included a proposed budget for the RA. The information contained therein is very revealing. Allow me to share some of the facts contained in this communication:
- The 2013-14 RA Budget is based on 1,700 “contributing members” (that’s dues-paying members).
- The statewide Rebekah membership continues to decline – last year it was 1,900 contributing members. They project a continued decline.
- Actual figures for 2012 reflect that income was slightly more than expenses – but this was only due to the fact that “several lodges” surrendered their charters. And when a lodge surrenders its charter much of its money goes into the RA General Fund and is, apparently, treated as “income”.
- Because of the serious decline in membership (affecting dues) at the last Rebekah Assembly session, dues were to be increased by $5 per member this year.
- The proposed 2013-14 RA Budget shows an unbalanced budget with expenses exceeding income by a substantial amount – leading to a deficit of over $10,000.
The above facts are shocking, but they don’t surprise me.
Years ago, I predicted that our Branches would slowly wither unless we changed the course of this great ship we call “Odd Fellowship.” And we are certainly seeing that in our Cantons and Encampments throughout the State. We are now beginning to see it in our Rebekah Assembly. Clearly, losing 200-400 Rebekahs each year is not sustainable. Clearly, running deficits in the RA Budget is not sustainable. Clearly, having lodges surrender their charters as a way to increase income is not sustainable. And the coup de grace is the notion that balancing the budget can be accomplished by actually RAISING dues by $5 per person.
THE PROBLEM IS OBVIOUS. The Rebekah Lodges are losing far more members than they are adding. That is, of course, not sustainable.
We have actually hit the wall, brothers and sisters. We are showing expenses exceeding income. That is a death rattle for an organization.
And the distressing fact is that there are only 1,700 dues paying members in California. And we all know what that means – just because someone pays dues doesn’t mean they attend meetings or participate in lodge activities. So, with 1,700 dues-paying members, we are probably talking about 800-900 who are “active” members.
The solution devised by the RA? Well, let’s raise dues. That is not a solution. Frankly, it just adds to the problem. Raising dues will do nothing to add members – in fact, if anything, it will discourage memberships. The only thing that will save a Rebekah Lodge is to add new members and new blood. And we can’t add new members if the only thing that a lodge offers is an opportunity to sit in a formal meeting once or twice a month. Prospective members in the 21st Century want to be involved in their communities and want to engage in social and fraternal activities within the lodge. Those Rebekah Lodges that expand their horizons into the community and into social activities will thrive.
I’m delighted to note that the Davis Rebekah Lodge has bucked the trend of declining membership – and it’s done so because we do more than just sit around in meetings.
F – L – T
You’ve heard the expression that many hands make light work. Well, many Rebekah hands made a GREAT CRAB FEED. I heard nothing but compliments on February 2 on a very successful Second Annual Rebekah Lodge Crab Feed, and a number of guests said they definitely want to come to the Third Annual Rebekah Lodge Crab Feed next year. On top of that, I am sure that our Lodge will have a “profit” of over $5,000 from this event – which helps us on our goals of assisting at-risk children, foster kids and emancipated young adults from the foster care system. Everyone helped out in some way, big or small, to make this a success. At the risk of leaving someone out (not intentionally), here is a special thanks to the following Rebekahs:
Jeannie Pytel who worked with me in coordinating this event. Jeannie was the Queen of this event! And special thanks to Allison Pytel who came in from San Francisco to sell raffle tickets – the idea for the Crab Feed originally came from Allison! (The sisters, Allison and Ariel Pytel, in their cute pink aprons, sold the raffle tickets and no one could resist buying a ticket from these two.)
Sheryl Cambron who, with Jeannie, set up a killer silent auction and raffle.
Alekka Fullerton who, along with her husband Mike, obtained the wine chiller donation.
Lin Spangler who donated the Giant’s tickets and bobblehead raffle prize. I believe the silent auction and the raffle generated some $2,500 for our Lodge.
All of the Rebekahs who donated 24 bottles of wine to fill the wine chiller.
They are not Rebekahs, a SPECIAL thanks to Jean Jordan and Rob Ferguson for coordinating the kitchen crew and the great service. Thank you, Rob, for getting the best crab ever. Ultimately, it is the quality of the crab which is the basis of a crab feed – and the crab this year was terrific. (By the way, Rob was the winner of the wine chiller raffle prize – which made it all worthwhile.)
And down in the bowels of the building – the kitchen – we didn’t see them but they were laboring away coordinating the service – Penny Smith, Jessica Smith, Alekka Fullerton and Hannah Cole Leathers. A really thankless job in the “boiler room” but they made it run smoothly.
Diana Schmiegel kept track of the money and coordinated the volunteers servers. There were 17 of them – young men and women – in their white shirts and dark pants or skirts, and they did a super job – even helped clean up at the end. Jeannie got a scout to help watch over the drawn butter – and the young man lent a hand in other ways during the evening.
Sharla Cheney and Sandy Dietrich for preparing the delicious salads.
Christina Beede, for getting great bread and garlic bread and coordinating the drawn butter. The bread was very popular.
Incredible homemade desserts thanks to Kathy White and Irene Fecht.
Check in at the door went smoothly – thank you to Joyce Trujillo and Mary Superak. And thanks, Mary, for the table decor! (Nice red buckets supplied by Jeannie!) Thank you, also to Kati Cole-Leathers, who got sick at the last minute but helped on the decor.
Barb Geisler, in preparing the tickets.
Dave Rosenberg who worked with me in collecting the ticket money from Avid Reader, got to the Lodge early and helped coordinate set up, and generally was there to provide “advice” on everything. He does pay attention to details.
Dody Black and Dave Rosenberg ran the bar. There was an incredible rush of people to the bar at 5:30 p.m. and (with a little help) they managed it really well. Dody will be providing part of the bar proceeds as a donation to the Rebekah Lodge.
All the Rebekahs who coordinated or purchased tables for the event including Joyce Trujillo, Barb Geisler, the Cheney Family who between them reserved four tables, Jeannie Pytel, and our pledge Valerie Ranns. (Valerie’s husband, Dean, was the winner of the Giant’s tickets raffle prize – and he’s a Red Sox fan!)
Thank you to many Rebekahs who came in at noon on Saturday to set up the silent auction and decorate the tables and the room.
And I am really glad we hired OSA’s to help set up and clean up as Dody and Dave suggested – we were all pretty tired at the end of the evening.
Rebekahs: YOU DID GREAT WORK. The first year was excellent, and we just got better with the second year of this crab feed. I’m real proud of you and the Rebekah Lodge.
Please mark your calendars for the Third Annual Rebekah Lodge Crab Feed. I am asking Dody to reserve Saturday, February 8, 2014 for the event!
Lea Rosenberg (left) has been installed as Noble Grand of the Davis Rebekah Lodge by District Deputy President Donna Morrison at a meeting of the Lodge on January 28.
Other elected officers of the Davis Rebekah Lodge installed that evening were Vice Grand Lin Spangler, Secretary Dave Rosenberg, Treasurer Diana Schmiegel and Financial Secretary Sharla Cheney. All appointed officers of the Lodge were present as well, and were installed into office: Warden Barb Geisler, Conductor Sheryl Cambron, Chaplain Joyce Trujillo, Right Supporter of the Noble Grand Jeannie Pytel, Left Supporter of the Noble Grand Rea Nakanishi, Inside Guardian Hannah Cole-Leathers, Outside Guardian Lewis Kimble, Color Bearer Jessica Smith, Musician Mary Superak, Right Supporter of the Vice Grand Kati Cole-Leathers, Left Supporter of the Vice Grand Irene Fecht.