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    Day 2 (Part 1): Shining Examples

    I’m a big believer in recognizing the efforts of fraternal members and leaders who have made a significant contribution to the success of their organizations and a positive impact on the communities in which they reside. As I learned today so, too, does the American Fraternal Alliance. Today at the annual meeting, the Alliance held an awards ceremony that recognized four individuals who stand as shining examples of the fraternal industry.

    Nominations for this annual award program came from throughout the U.S. and Canada, representing a wide variety of backgrounds and fraternal efforts. This probably made for quite a difficult decision for the judges. Not an enviable task, but I think they did a great job!

    So, with that, drumroll please!

    The first award given was for the 2012 Fraternalist of the Year. This award is given annually to recognize the top volunteer from among the almost 10 million members affiliated with the Alliance’s member societies. The chosen recipiet has provided outstanding volunteer service in his/her community and excellent leadership in his/her local chapter throughout the past year.

    I’m pleased to announce this year’s winner was Deborah Young, of the Supreme Council of the Royal Arcanum! Deborah’s activities included work with Join Hands Day, Muscular Dystrophy Association and many more! So many more, in fact, they could be their own blog post! Deborah has selected Better World Today to receive her $1,000 honorarium. Click here if you’d like to watch a great video telling Deborah’s story in the words of her friends and colleagues.

    Next, the 2012 FIC of the Year was awarded to Wilbert Jost of Catholic Life Insurance. This is a joint award program of the Fraternal Field Managers Association (FFMA), the National Association of Fraternal Insurance Counselors (NAFIC) and the American Fraternal Alliance and recognizes the idea that to many individuals, a fraternal benefit society’s local fraternal insurance counselor is the “face of fraternalism.”

    Wilbert is a shining example of this, having followed in the footsteps of his father, uncle, wife’s father, uncle and grandfather, in selling for Catholic Life Insurance since 1982. He has also served the 690-member Wall Branch of Catholic Life as secretary-treasurer since that date. He is dedicated to serving the St. Ambrose Catholic Church and has served the community of Wall through the Wall Band Boosters and JOIN HANDS DAY. Wilbert has selected the Wall Volunteer Fire Department, of which he is a longtime member, to receive his $1,000 honorarium.

    After that, the 2012 Jacobson-Rugland Award was given to Douglas Bearrood, Director of Capital Management & Model Management at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The Jacobson-Rugland award, named in honor of the late Reuben Jaconson and Walter Rugland, was established by Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1993. It is presented annually by the Alliance’s Actuaries Section, the award honors an outstanding fraternal actuary for contributions to the actuarial profession and support of the fraternal benefit system.

    Doug has served in the various officer roles of the AFA Actuaries Section from 2003 – 2005 and has been active in the Actuaries’ Section for many years. He has been the key actuarial contact for the Alliance regarding Risk Based Capital (RBC) for Fraternals and continues to be a first actuarial contact for the Alliance and Thrivent lawyers whenever any questions arise regarding RBC.

    Last, but certainly not least, the Alliance presented the Marcia D. Heywood Fraternal Communications Award. Established by the Alliance’s Communications Section, the award honors an outstanding communicator for contributions to the communications profession and the advancement of the fraternal benefits system. The award was named in honor of the late Marcia D. Heywood, Woodmen Financial Services, Inc., a communications professional who actively volunteered to serve her society, her state fraternal alliance and the American Fraternal Alliance.

    The 2012 recipient of this award was Rita Toalson, Managing Editor for Royal Neighbors of America. Rita has been in the communications department of Royal Neighbors for nearly 35 years. Her roots run deep in the fraternal benefit system and she truly believes what she communicates to members and the public. She is a veteran in the field of crisis communication recognizing the importance of minimizing any risk to Royal Neighbors and the fraternal system. Rita is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and the PR Network of the Quad Cities.

    Each recipient of this year’s awards were truly deserving and, I might add, very inspiring. These folks show just how much a person can accomplish and what a significant impact they can make on their community through dedication to the fraternal ideals. I hope you’ll join me in applauding their accomplishments! I also hope that next year you’ll nominate someone you know who is just as deserving of these accolades!

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