Thinking Outside the Box
I am sure for many of us who write articles for our own lodge newsletters or those appearing in the Il Leone we will call up our last year article and type in the new information and save it under this year’s filename. The pandemic has changed all of that. The April 2020 edition of the Roma Lodge article had a complete listing of over 75 members who would be presented their “milestone” membership certificates for every 5 years of successful Roma Lodge membership. It included pictures of new members and their families and information about our 90th year anniversary celebration. Which of course never happened because of the pandemic. We have not met since March of 2020.
On March 20th I decided to participate in the Grand Council zoom meeting to learn about what is going on at the state level. I must thank and congratulate President John Costa and all the Grand Council officers for volunteering of their time and energy to keep the Grand Lodge solvent in these exceedingly difficult times. I learned total membership is down to 3,300 members, 5 lodges have been officially closed and the Grand Lodge convention will be held online, and business will be conducted on only one day. When the tenets of the Order are LIBERTY-EQUALITY- FRATERNITY it is difficult to do much when our local lodges rely on socializing fraternally at our meetings, dinners, and fundraisers.
If we have learned anything in this pandemic is the fact, we must all look at our past ways of doing business and adapt to new ways of functioning as an organization. Large corporations and businesses have decided to forego the expensive brick and mortar office complexes, expensive parking lots and daily commutes, to allow many of their employees to work from home. Technology has improved the ways we can communicate for meetings and it will only get better over time.
Just think of all the travel, meals and housing saved with the Grand Council meeting in March. Business was conducted, documents shared, ideas discussed, and actions taken while everyone in attendance were at home in front of their computer! I received my Il Leone the same day and saw the note from Debbie Ure, who reminded everyone to send her the articles and she lives in the State of Washington! Go figure!
When delegates get their packets, it will show several areas of the budget operating in the negative. State Financial Secretary, David Lavezzari, and his committee, have done a lot of work in simplifying the way the budget is presented on an annual versus 6-month basis which is extremely helpful. Yes, the pandemic forced the cancelation of the 2020 convention, Royal Pageant, operating losses for the Grand Lodge Building, loss of membership, the list of red numbers goes on and on. At the 2021 convention delegates need to take a critical look at the way the organization is being operated and look for new ways to do business. During the Grand Council meeting Al Girolami, Judiciary Chair discussed Roma Lodges two resolutions submitted two years ago and will be on the agenda at this year’s convention.
Roma Lodge has six delegates for the convention based on our membership. Our resolution suggests each lodge be represented by only two delegates to reduce costs to local lodges who have the burden of financially supporting their delegates. Each year, depending on the location of the convention, we spend $3,500-$6,500 to send our delegates to the convention. Remember, the bylaws indicate if you do not send the required delegates you could be fined $200.00 per day per delegate! We suggested, in our rationale, lodges could send as many attendees to the convention as they would like but only two would be allowed to vote.
We also have a resolution to have the convention held every other year. There has been opposition to this proposal because, “We tried that several years ago and we didn’t get as much in donations the year we didn’t have a convention” was the reason we could not go to every other year. REALLY! Did you contact donors, local lodges, and other groups, and request their donations in the year you did not have a convention? Do we really think the reason donations were down occurred because we did not have a convention that year? Probably not.
As an example, look at your delegate registration packet when you get it. It is filled with punitive measures. You must buy the entire packet, you must always wear your badge, you must be in your seat when each session starts, your lodge will be fined if one of your delegates misses a session. The list goes on and on. Is this the type of convention our millennial members are going to give up work, family time, or vacations to attend? After the Reno Convention, we had one of our promising young leaders indicate they would never go back to a Grand Lodge convention again as a delegate!
The pandemic has given all of us an opportunity to change the ways we do things on a personal, professional, and organizational basis. There is an old saying, “if you do what you have always done, you will be what you have always been” if the Grand Lodge continues to do what it has always done, dropping membership, insolvency and the loss of more local lodges may be occur.
Roma Lodge has nearly 300 members of which, ONLY ONE, is Italian-American. The rest of us are American Italian. The Grand Council and the rest of us need to start taking actions to ensure we have a viable organization to fit the needs of our changing demographics. We need to “think outside the box” and make changes in the organization to ensure we survive
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Sons and Daughters of Italy in America
Grand Lodge of California
P. O. Box 2467
Fairfield, CA 94533
Phone: (415) 586-1316