Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Just last week I received the e-mail, below, from a young lady who is a member of our community. To preserve her privacy, I have removed her real name (and I have also deleted her e-mail address and phone number) and will just call her “Jane Smith”. Here’s what “Jane” wrote to me:
My name is Jane Smith and I am interested in learning more about how to become a member. I have had conversations with a couple of members while attending Thursday night music programs at the Lodge and it sounds like you participate in some valuable community service projects and have fun while doing so. Please let me know about next steps, i.e. help with identifying a sponsor. Thanks in advance.
I do not personally know Jane, but after I received her e-mail, I spoke to one of the members of our Music Committee and found that she had, indeed, spoken to Jane about our Lodge and would be willing to sponsor Jane as an applicant for membership.
Here is what is interesting about this contact from Jane:
First, because my Lodge sponsors and hosts many community events, members of the community come into contact with the Lodge Hall and the members. We don’t operate in secret, behind closed doors. We open ourselves to the community. One of the many things we do is hold music events at the Lodge on the first Thursday of every month called “Thursday Live!”. These events feature local musicians with varying music styles – rock, country, jazz, classical, etc. It provides a great venue for local artists, and a wonderful community gathering. Typically, the audience numbers 75-150. The music events are always open to the public and free (although voluntary donations are accepted). And so, because of open events like this, members of the public attend and often express interest in the Lodge. As I have said many times, to survive and flourish into the 21st Century, Odd Fellows must cease being a “secret society” and must transform into a “society with secrets.”
Second, rather than engaging in active recruitment of new members, my Lodge has come full circle to a place where Odd Fellowship used to be a century go. One hundred years ago, Odd Fellows did not have to actively recruit for new members. Instead, potential new members contacted Odd Fellows asking how they could join. This is a remarkable thing. But it can only occur when a Lodge is active and reaches out to the community. This didn’t happen overnight. It is a process that took a decade to develop. But today, there are events and meetings occurring at my Lodge at least 20 days every month. The Lodge has become a central gathering point in the community – like it was in the last Century – and people are well aware of Odd Fellows in my town. We not only rent the Lodge Hall for various events (and often provide it free of charge to assist local charitable groups), but the Lodge hosts dozens and dozens of events which are open to the public. These include monthly Bingo, monthly music venues, A Taste of Davis, Breakfast with Santa, the Davis Chocolate Festival, the Davis Classic Films Festival, Breakfast with the Bunny, a New Year’s Eve Party, Picnic Day Pancake Breakfast and Picnic Day Lodge Float, Tellabration, and many, many more.
To put a footnote on this article, I have been in touch with Jane and have invited her to a one of our weekly Thursday evening gatherings at the Lodge (we call these weekly events “Club Night at the Lodge” – a strictly informal gathering of interested members, applicants, family members, and potential applicants – where the bar is open, dinner is available, the big-screen TV is on, and we usually offer some entertainment like “Trivia Night”). Jane has taken me up on the offer, I will meet with her next week, and I fully expect she will be submitting an application to join our Lodge. The bottom line is that if your Lodge is active in the community, and visible in its activity, members of the community will become aware of Odd Fellowship, and will want to explore membership. It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master