Together we make a profound difference

Leading our lodges in 2012

BEST PRACTICE: Widow outreach

HOW-TO: Improve widow outreach

Introducing the Masonic Scholarship Finder

Resources

Question of the month

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Leading our lodges in 2012

Congratulations on your recent or upcoming installation for 2012, and welcome to those who are stepping into officer roles for the first time. If you are new to the line, this is your first issue of The Leader, a monthly
e-newsletter for California lodge officers.

The Leader delivers useful and timely information directly applicable to your role as a Masonic leader. Each issue shares lodge successes, resources, how-to information, and reminders to keep you informed and involved. You'll also find tips on implementing the fraternity’s strategic plan.

Please send us feedback, share your lodge's best practices, and take advantage of our question of the month to share your experiences with other California officers. The Leader is your publication, and your participation will develop it into a stronger and more relevant voice for California lodge leaders.

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BEST PRACTICE: Widow outreach

In the earliest days of the fraternity, a core purpose of a Masonic lodge was to care for the widows and children of brothers who passed away.

Although Freemasonry is no longer set in the context of dangerous stonemason work, that obligation endures.

It’s also an important part of the strategic plan objective to enhance the overall quality of the membership experience, which includes improving engagement of family members.

Just ask Bellflower Lodge No. 320 and Reseda Lodge No. 666.

For both, widow outreach involves more than an occasional letter (although that’s important, too). Their members log miles for face-to-face contact with lodge sweethearts, from birthday visits to recreational field trips.

Background
Bellflower Lodge and Reseda Lodge are both located within 30 miles of L.A., and have about 200 members apiece.

  • Bellflower Lodge: The widows' program serves about 100 widows, and reflects the lodge’s family-friendly culture: Most ladies are active in their husbands' lodge events, so for those who become widows, it is natural to stay involved.
  • Reseda Lodge: The program, which serves 62 widows, began in 1980 with a member donation designated for widows. The lodge subsequently created its Widows’ Committee, which organizes birthday visits and keeps tabs on sweethearts.

Birthday greetings

  • Ask for volunteers: Each month at Reseda Lodge’s stated meeting, the Widows’ Committee announces sweetheart birthdates and requests volunteers to visit those who are local. (In absence of volunteers, members of the committee are assigned.) Long-distance widows receive a card with a note inquiring about their well-being.
  • Make it personal: Members who volunteer for a birthday visit present the sweetheart with a card and gift, specially selected by the master.
  • Look for warning signs: As part of the visit, the member reminds the sweetheart that she is invited to lodge events at no cost. He also checks on her health, financial, and general well-being, then reports his findings to the committee.
  • Stay connected: Some members have struck up lasting friendships through these visits. They revisit the same widow year after year, and go out for lunch or dinner in celebration of her birthday.

Day-to-day

  • Send word: Both lodges are diligent about sending a Trestleboard to all of their sweethearts, as well as fliers for upcoming events. This keeps them informed of lodge activities, and serves as a monthly reminder that they are always welcome.
  • Pick up the phone: Bellflower Lodge has a phone tree with several prewritten scripts, depending on the program. All local widows receive a call for open programs.

Special programs
Bellflower Lodge holds two special events for widows every year.

  • #1 Trip to the theater: During the summertime, when the days are longer, the lodge arranges an outing to the Long Beach Playhouse for a Sunday matinee.
  • #2 Local lunch: The lodge hosts a widows’ luncheon at a local restaurant, and uses the opportunity to present any new widows with a pin and certificate from Grand Lodge. Tip: The luncheon started as a dinner. Thanks to feedback from widows who were reluctant to attend at night, the lodge moved it to the daytime.
  • A little goes a long way: Just two members can handle nearly all event preparations: scheduling, creating fliers, receiving RSVPs, and making reservations.

Survey says

  • Ask for input: Every few years Bellflower Lodge sends a survey to local widows, asking if there’s anything they’d like added to the widows’ program: daytrips, social functions, or even general services that the lodge can undertake. The last survey resulted in a day trip to the Reagan Library.

Benefits

  • Bellflower Lodge: Half a dozen sweethearts regularly attend stated meeting dinners and other lodge functions.
  • Reseda Lodge: Even out-of-area sweethearts feel comfortable stopping by the lodge. Long-distance sweethearts who travel to town to visit relatives often show up at lodge events.

For both lodges, the bottom line is this: Sweethearts are constantly reminded that their fraternal family cares about them and wants them to stay involved.

The following lodge leaders contributed:

  • James Allen, Bellflower Lodge, fraternal support services ambassador and past master
  • Charles Thompson, Reseda Lodge, secretary and past master

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HOW-TO: Improve widow outreach

To ensure that your widows feel welcome in the lodge and have the support they need, it’s important to stay in touch year-round. If your lodge has just one or two widow outreach events during the year, consider expanding your sweetheart program with these tactics.

1. Send mail

  • Send birthday and holiday cards annually.
  • At least once a year - especially around the holidays - send a personalized note from the master.
  • Make sure widows receive the lodge Trestleboard.
  • Check that widows still receive California Freemason magazine.
  • TIP: When entering a member’s death date in iMember, create a linked widow record for the spouse. This ensures that she will continue to receive Grand Lodge communications.

2. Form dedicated committees

  • For widows, by members: Establish a lodge committee dedicated to widow outreach. Responsibilities can include announcing sweetheart birthdays, coordinating visits, and reporting on widows’ well-being.
  • For members, by widows: Get widows involved by encouraging them to form their own committee - for example, a phone committee that alerts the fraternal family about upcoming lodge events.

3. Plan special events

  • Sweethearts night: At least once a year, host a meal in honor of lodge sweethearts. Assign members to call and invite each widow personally, and coordinate rides to and from the event. Present sweethearts with flowers or another token of affection.
  • Field trip: Take a cue from Bellflower Lodge in this month’s Best Practice, and plan group sweetheart outings to local museums, theaters, and other destinations.
  • Lodge events: Any time the lodge is hosting an event open to families or the public, personally invite sweethearts and offer to coordinate rides.
  • Master meeting: At the beginning of your term as master, meet with sweethearts to introduce yourself. This is a great time to suggest a sweethearts’ phone committee or a lunch group (see below).

4. Stay in touch

  • Lunch bunch: Encourage members’ ladies and lodge sweethearts to meet for lunch monthly.
  • Individual attention: Assign a member to each sweetheart. Aim for a phone call or visit four times a year.
  • Handyman service: Create a taskforce of lodge members to tackle handyman projects. Publicize the service to widows and elder members.
  • Youth orders: Involve local youth orders in planning events or making cards for sweethearts.

5. More ways to reach out

  • Stop by: Make frequent home visits just to check in and say hello.
  • Give a lift: Offer rides to lodge or doctors’ visits.
  • Lend a hand: Help with errands such as grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, or home maintenance.
  • Connect with support: Refer members who need support to masonicassistance@mhcuc.org or 888/466-3642, and refer potential applicants for the Masonic Homes to 888/466-3642. Offer to help with applications.

Have we forgotten something? Email additional suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Improve widow outreach in the subject line.

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Introducing the Masonic Scholarship Finder

For more than 150 years, our fraternity has championed public education in California. And every year, the Masons of California and Masonic-related organizations sponsor numerous scholarship programs, giving thousands of students the chance to pursue a college education.

Now, freemason.org offers a , making it even easier for students to access this support.

Direct any student - with or without a Masonic background - to the Find Scholarships tab on freemason.org. Based on five questions, the Masonic Scholarship Finder will present a list of Masonic (or Masonic-related) scholarships for which the student is eligible, including program details and information on how to apply.

Urge students in your lodge families, communities, and youth orders to take advantage of this new tool and the scholarships generously awarded by the Masonic community.

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Resources

By educating members about Masonic Assistance, you can make sure that your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

The support services provided by Masonic Assistance have saved the lives of hundreds of fraternal family members. But Masonic widows, especially those who are no longer active with the lodge, may not realize that they are eligible for support, too.

This month’s resource is a special reminder.

Template letter: Masonic widow benefits
Once a year, send this letter from the master to your lodge’s Masonic widows reminding them that they are entitled to support services.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has a lodge strategic plan. Of the 84 who responded:

53% - Yes
47% - No

Of those who said yes, more than half said that lodge officers developed the strategic plan. About 24 percent said their entire membership was involved.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

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