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    Joe’s Special…

    When I was a kid growing up in Northern California there was a popular chain of local restaurants called “Original Joe’s.”  The most popular dish they served was, of course, “Joe’s Special” – a concoction of ground beef, spinach, eggs, onion, Parmesan cheese, and oregano (Joe was a paisan, in case you were wondering), plus a few other items that added character.  Undoubtedly the initial version of the recipe was created from all the leftover items Joe (or Joe’s mother) had in the kitchen one afternoon.  It was the ultimate mish-mosh of flavor and textures; an unlikely combination of ingredients that worked well together. Here’s a link to the recipe just in case you’re interested…

    Today’s blog – and all future postings titled “Joe's Special” – is a little like that favorite dish from “Original Joe’s: a little of this and a little of that; unrelated items that work well together (I hope).  Take a quick look and let me know if I over-salted…

    • Catholic Knights “Members First Benefit” scores points with membership – The Catholic Knights, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., has introduced a new limited-term benefit to help its members deal with the tough economic conditions folks from all walks of life and all socio-economic classes are facing.  Known as “Members First,” the program offers spiritual, educational, and financial benefits to those individuals who need a little help polishing their job skills, paying for groceries, or coping with these stressful times.  The benefits are both very real and very appreciated – by members who are taking advantage of them and other members who are proud to be a member of a society that offers them.  The goodwill generated by the program has been worth the effort, according to society executives.  Here are a couple of links to information about the program, including feedback from members.  Check it out and see if this might be something your society could put in place.  Better yet, send me information on your society’s unique membership benefits programs so I can list them in future postings.

    • No good deed goes … unrewarded – Here’s a unique way to reward all the good work your members are doing in the community: the “Give a Day, Get a Night” program offered by various hotel chains across the country…

    • Health care debate heats up – The House Democratic Leadership plans to pay for its health care reform bill with tax offsets.  As of right now, the largest pay-for proposal was a graduated surtax on high incomes which in the aggregate raises almost $600 billion.  Committee sources are indicating that there will be a package of smaller offsets in the tax area, but we may not know what they will be until the formal package is released.  The international tax provisions are probably not in, while some pending items (such as the crackdown on the so-called black-liquor credit) could be.  The package also will contain some large cuts in Medicare and Medicaid to satisfy concerns of the fiscal conservative Democratic Blue Dogs.  The bottom line is that fraternals need to be prepared to tell our story to members of Congress when our tax exemption is put under the microscope.

    • An impressive response – Because of your response to our call to action asking you to provide “volunteer stories” to the Serve.gov Web site (see my last blog posting if you need more details on this), we’ll be able to make a compelling case to not only preserve and protect the fraternal tax exemption, but to more effectively utilize fraternals as an effective means of distributing community and social services to those who need it most.  You did a great job; so great, in fact, that a Serve.gov official called us to compliment you on your efforts.  Much more on this in a future posting.  Suffice it to say, we’ve got the attention of Administration officials.  Now we’ve got to come up with the most effective way to deliver the goods.

    • Trust factor spurs fraternal sales growth – Take a look at page four of this PowerPoint presentation on individual life insurance sales trends compiled by LIMRA.  Fraternals posted the biggest growth in sales in the first quarter, no doubt spurred by consumer skittishness about the ongoing economic malaise, the reliable “plain vanilla” products in the fraternal stable, and the high degree of trust that exists between fraternals and their members. 

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