The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is one of the oldest and largest fraternities in the world comprising over 10,000 lodges in 25 countries. We are non-political and non-sectarian and are actively involved in a variety of civic and philanthropic efforts on local, national and international levels.
Membership is open to all regardless of sex, race, religion, political affiliation and social status – all bound by the desire to improve ourselves and the calling to live and promote the principles of Friendship, Love, & Truth.
The earliest printed record of an Odd Fellows Lodge appears in a reference to a lodge meeting in England in 1748. During this period when it was commonplace to think only of ones self, the Odd Fellows arose to fill a need where society had failed. It was very unusual, or “Odd”, as the term was used in those days, to describe a group of individuals that formed a fellowship for mutual help of the less fortunate members in our communities. Thomas Wildey formed the first lodge in this country in 1819 in Baltimore, Md. It was the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) that grew to 10,000 lodges in 25 countries.
The Odd Fellows & Rebekahs spend over $775 million in relief projects annually. Highlights of these include the following:
- The Educational Foundation provides substantial loans and grants to students
- SOS Children’s Village provides a caring home for orphaned children in Cambodia
- Living Legacy focuses on planting trees and enhancing our environment
- The Odd Fellows donate over $500,000 annually to support research by the Arthritis Foundation (USA) and Arthritis Society (Canada)
- Visual Research Foundation donates $500,000 annually to support vision care and research through the Wilmer Eye Institute
- Annually sponsor a float in the New Year’s Day Rose Parade
- Odd Fellowship originated the concept of Homes for the Aged. Many jurisdictions operate Full Care Nursing Homes to care for the most vulnerable in our population.
- Fully support and run Camp NEOFA, Children’s Camp in Belfast, Maine offering healthy and entertaining outdoor activities and crafts for the children of our communities.
- Local lodges have many activities keep you interested in doing your part for your community, and if they don’t have what interests you – you can start your own activity
With only a paid-up membership card and the “Annual Travelling Password” in your possession; you can travel to, and be welcomed into, any lodge in any country in the world.
The Making of a Major Charity:
The statistics are staggering; In the United States, 52.5 million people have Arthritis or another rheumatic condition diagnosed by a doctor. And by the year 2030, the number is expected to rise to 67 million. In 1983, Grand Master George J. Hughes proclaimed that his special project for that year would be the Arthritis Foundation and encouraged all subordinate lodges to raise funds annually for this worthy cause. Starting in 1984, several lodges across the state began making annual donations or hosting fundraising events for Arthritis. One lodge organized and ran fundraiser volleyball tournaments and, over a several year period, raised over $7,000 with every year being the top contributor in the state. Special thanks to PGM, Arthur L. Wilcox for organizing our first annual Arthritis Golf Tournament and a big special thanks to PGM Clarence Plant for organizing and continuing to lead with 26 years of our Annual Arthritis Charity Balls. Bro. Clarence is on the National Arthritis Advisory Board of Officers.
Arthritis Foundation Today:
Massachusetts has been leading the way for the rest of the country and in 1985, Sovereign Grand Master George E. Shaw recognized that a national relationship with the Arthritis Foundation would make a huge difference for the millions afflicted with this debilitating disease, and with the help of Past SGM, Hugh Bradley, enacted and passed legislation making Arthritis an approved Sovereign Grand Lodge Activity. It took seven years to raise the first $1,000,000 and only three years to raise the second. Currently, we are contributing over $500,000 annually, and for the past 21 years, the Jurisdiction of Massachusetts has received the SGL Platinum Award for making the largest annual contribution to the Arthritis Foundation. WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!