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Another State Fraternal Congress Gem…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been spending a good bit of my time participating in as many State Fraternal Congress meetings as I can.  And while the travel can sometimes get a bit grueling, I always seem to find at least one gem at every meeting that either reinforces the value of our contributions to the health of American society and the well-being of our members, or that sparks an idea for how we can better promote the fraternal advantage.

In my last blog posting, I told you about the presentation Bill Southrey of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission made to the New Jersey Fraternal Congress.  It was compelling and drove home the tremendous impact that fraternals have on the lives of the disadvantaged in our communities every day. 

Last week, I attended the California Fraternal Congress meeting and heard from a representative of the Sacramento mayor’s office about a community service initiative entitled “Volunteer Sacramento,” a local government effort to encourage volunteerism and service in the community with a goal of asking every resident to donate a minimum of 10 hours in 2009.  Each month has a distinct theme for volunteer activities and topics range from youth service to disaster planning, to feeding the hungry.  So far the program is not only exceeding that goal, but is also resulting in other cities creating similar programs and creating a friendly competition among some of the state’s larger cities for the unofficial title of “#1 volunteer city in California.”

The Perfect Fraternal Leadership Opportunity

Not surprisingly, several NFCA member societies with lodges in and around the Sacramento area are participating in the Volunteer Sacramento program.  But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that we have an even greater opportunity not only to participate in these larger, government-supported initiatives (including the federal “United We Serve” effort) but also to LEAD AND ORGANIZE similar efforts in smaller communities across the United States.

Think about it.  Instead of waiting for an over-burdened government agency to set up a community volunteerism effort, why couldn’t fraternals lead the charge?  Our presence in mid-size and smaller communities (as well as some major cities) make this the perfect forum for us to showcase our organizational abilities and shine a bright spotlight on the value of fraternalism – the fraternal advantage – to our most important audiences: current members, public policymakers, opinion leaders in the media, agents and prospective agents, other local charitable organizations, and the millions of people who would welcome the opportunity to be a fraternalist if they only knew we existed!

I’m envisioning fraternal-led efforts with titles like Volunteer Neenah, Volunteer Cedar Rapids, Volunteer Joliet, Volunteer Pittsburgh, Volunteer Twin Cities, Volunteer Rock Island or Volunteer Just About Anywhere We Have a Viable Lodge.  This would be a year-round initiative, not a one-day event.  It would take some “stick-to-it-iveness,” but I think the benefits over the long term – both in terms of the contributions that could be made to local communities and the enhanced awareness of the fraternal system – would be well worth the effort.

So what do you think?  Another half-baked idea from your association’s CEO who’s still learning all the ins-and-outs of the fraternal system or something that might be a difference maker?  The only way I’ll get your take is if you voice your opinion.  Share your thoughts by posting a comment here or by emailing me at jannotti@nfcanet.org.


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