WHERE ARE WE?
Jim Valvano, who was a great college basketball coach and an even better speaker, once said that if you want to get better at anything, you must know “Where you started, where you are and where you want to be!” If you get a chance, look him up (YouTube, 1993 ESPY speech).
Where we started last June wasn’t necessarily the best place to be. We had two really tough years in a row mainly because our fraternity was shut down most of the time due to the pandemic. Our Brothers stopped coming to lodge and our lodges were hurting. We all knew we needed to get a fast start in order to get the ship moving. Like a large battleship, it takes time to get it up to top speed. We are working hard to make that happen.
The other night I sat down and thought about where we are today. I feel that we are not hitting on all cylinders. One thing I do know is that we are going in the right direction. By working together, we are making progress and we will keep moving forward by retaining and increasing membership and by strengthening our brotherhood by spreading brotherly love.
I can’t thank all of you enough for all you are doing to help us make our goals and move our fraternity forward. Many of us are out visiting lodges. My Marshal and I have been out almost every night visiting lodges all over the state and seeing lodges that haven’t had a Grand Lodge Officer visit their lodge for many years. I’ve also made some very early morning drives to meet with Brothers at an Outpost breakfast meeting. This has been so much fun and filled with laughter! I believe things like this are needed more now than ever. It sure doesn’t hurt with recruiting either. People in the community see lodge Brothers having fun. Many of them are wearing shirts with the square and compasses. This adds to visibility in the community and a desire to be part of a fun group.
Now let’s take action to get to where we want to be. Coach Jim Valvano would start his first practice every year without a basketball, they would go into the gym and he and every player would be lifted up towards the net and with a gold scissor they would each take turns cutting down the net. He would tell them that is what they will do when they win the National Championship. He wanted them to know what the final goal was and then they went to work so they could make it happen. His team worked on all the little extra things so they could become champions.
He had a plan. He wasn’t afraid of putting it out there for everyone to see. He and his team had some very strong goals and everyone was on board. We need to do the same thing within our lodges. Build a plan with your lodge calendar. Make an action plan with steps to complete your plan. Put someone in charge and make it happen. If your lodge needs help with your action plan, contact your District Deputy or a Grand Lodge officer. Then “Inspect what you Expect!” It will work and your lodge will be a champion! Remember, your attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG Difference!
This year our budget added $50,000 for marketing and finding new members. Our membership team has taken the lead to bring us more candidates and we are seeing the results. Our lodges are now very active with degree work and posting. Our mentors are working with our new Brothers teaching them about Masonry and forming friendships and brotherhood. We see some very exciting things happening on our way to be champions.
The second thing we decided to do was to purchase the Fire Suppression Units and give 4 units to each district. This was also to get public visibility of the Masons in your communities. We asked you make sure this information was shared with the press and let your communities know that Masons want to help and protect our residents. We also want to let the EMS people (police, sheriffs, ambulance, fire) know that we are their friends. When everyone is running away from them, our Masons are here to show our support.
This turned out to be even better than we had hoped. We have received lots of good press. Some of the firemen and police/sheriff officers have even joined our fraternity. We felt that it was so good that at one of our PLO meetings we decided to ask the Masonic Foundation to consider buying one for each of the lodges that had not received one. This was approved so now we will ask them to contact the press and give one out to their own communities. Also, we are now allowing our lodges to purchase them much like we did with the defibrillators through Act of Kindness, matching grants program.
Now when people ask what Masons do, we have more to share with them. We are a fraternity of good men who are given the tools to make those men into better men. We are members of the community who are always looking for ways to help others in our communities.
We have looked out for our communities by giving defibrillators to schools, police departments and many other places. They have been used to save members of our communities throughout the state. We are now presenting Fire Suppression Units to our communities so we can help protect our residents and their property. We continue to look out for our Brothers, their widows and orphans and we are willing to aid, help and assist others.
It has taken time to get us up and running. We are again moving in the right direction and our fraternity is raising new masons, too. We see some of our lodges doing great things. It is time for all of us to get moving forward.
Start by getting together. Form an Outpost Club and do breakfast meetings, or go out together for fish fry on a Friday evening with your ladies. Get to know your Brothers and their families. Get your lodge to travel and enjoy having fun with other Brothers. Get out and share the cement of brotherly love. My prayer is for all of us to get this fraternity moving forward and then watch it grow.
Remember where we started, where we are and where we want to be. Let’s make this ship fly!
Also, let us finish the year on a high note and get as many of our members to please sign up to attend the Annual Communication. Let’s fill our beautiful Grand Masonic Center in Madison with as many Great Brothers as we can!
And as I said at last year’s Annual Communication, you are all very important to me and that leaves me with only one thing left to say: I LOVE YA, MY BROTHERS!
See you in lodge! Brother Gary