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    Making a difference, one Knight at a time …

    Yesterday, January 19, we celebrated the birthday of one of the champions of America's civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Fittingly, President Barack Obama called on the country to celebrate Dr. King's legacy, by participating in a National Day of Service. 

    Moreover, our president has made volunteerism and community service one of the pillars of his candidacy and will undoubtedly continue that emphasis during his tenure in the White House.  In fact, President Obama will launch "Renew America Together," his call for Americans to make an ongoing commitment to the lives of others in their community and their country.  (Click here to read a recent Wall Street Journal guest editorial by Colin Powell on this program.)

    This presents a huge opportunity for NFCA and our member societies to become a much more integral part of the fabric of America's community service network.  Over the next few months, we'll be reaching out to officials in the Obama Administration to let them know who we are, what we can do, and how we can help the nation fill the ever-widening gap between government programs and the real needs of individuals and communities across the nation.  The potential for a "fraternal Renaissance" is right in front of us. The question is, will we have the courage and capability to seize the moment?

    I am pleased to note that several NFCA members participated in National Day of Service activities.  NFCA Board member Emilio Moure of the Knights of Columbus reports that the society has just kicked off a "Year of Voluntarism Campaign" to honor the memory of Dr. King.  The Knights' first set of action was the purchase of 7,800 coats for children age 6-12 from OshKosh B'gosh and London Fog that members will distribute in several U.S. cities, beginning with three locations in Washington, D.C., yesterday.  (To see photos from yesterday's event, click here.)

    In a related action, Knights' lodges across the country are helping families with very young children by gathering donations of baby food and diapers from shoppers at grocery stores.  An interactive map can be found at http://www.kofc.org/un/eb/en/utility_pages/yule_2007/index.html 

    As the Knights' campaign demonstrates, fraternal benefit societies provide fertile ground for relevant, important, and meaningful community-service activities that make a difference in the lives of individuals and the quality of life in our community.  Helping others is what sets us apart from commercial insurers, demonstrates our value to society, and validates the wisdom of our federal tax exemption. 

    It is so exciting to see our societies fully engaged in this volunteerism.  What is your society doing to respond to President Obama's call to service?  How are you reaching out to your members to encourage them to participate in your society's volunteer activities?  Let me know so that we can share your story via this blog, and spread the word to other members, public policymakers, and potential fraternalists and help make the "fraternal Renaissance" more than a nice thought.

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