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Odd Fellows International: A Sense of History and Belongingness

Rick Braggy of Sycamore Odd Fellows Lodge No.129 in Hayward, California, shares that younger people nowadays are looking for a sense of belonging, a sense of history and knowing their past. He believes that the Odd Fellows is an opportunity for younger generations to feel a sense of belonging, to feel being a part of something historical, something long-lasting and something much bigger than one's self.

The Sycamore Odd Fellows Lodge has a history that dates back to 1866 in Hayward. Today, the Sycamore Lodge is a place for members and guests to gather in fellowship to practice, support, and share in activities that honor the Odd Fellow traditions of Friendship, Love and Truth as they work to preserve and nurture arts and culture in their community. As a community founded by members with strong interest in music and arts, the Lodge particularly seek to deploy their talents and resources in partnership with local government and community organizations to support arts education in their community. Their website: http://wp.haywardlodge.org

Evolving from the traditions of the medieval craft guilds, the first Odd Fellows emerged in England on or before the year 1700. The early lodges were first set up to protect and care for their members and communities at a time when there were still no social security services, national health insurance, service clubs and modern-day charity foundations. The aim was and still is to provide help to our members, our families and our communities in times of need, along with the goal of developing worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood, promoting universal peace and understanding, and improving personal character through the ethical and humanitarian principles taught in our ancient degrees of initiation. Our branch, the “Independent Order of Odd Fellows” (I.O.O.F.), was organized on April 26, 1819, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., by Thomas Wildey and four Odd Fellows from England. At a time when women were still not allowed to go to school, vote for public office or join fraternal organizations, the I.O.O.F. became the first fraternal order to officially accept women when the “Rebekahs” was founded on September 20, 1851.

- To improve and elevate the character of humankind by teaching and promoting the principles of Friendship, Love, and Truth; Faith, Hope, and Charity; and Universal Justice, as exemplified in the degrees of initiation and practiced in real life.

- To help make the world a better place to live by aiding each other in times of need and by volunteering in or organizing charitable activities and projects that would benefit the less fortunate, the children, the youth, the elderly, the community and the environment in every way possible guided by our ancient command: “to visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphan”.

- To promote goodwill and understanding among people and nations through the principle of universal fraternity, holding the belief that all men and women regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank and station are brothers and sisters.

- To develop and expand a local, national and international social network for people from all walks of life - college students, professionals, retirees - dedicated to the purposes herein mentioned; ensuring genuine friendships, compassionate service for community and personal character development.

- To raise funds through membership fees, annual dues, donations, endowments, and purchase, acquire, own, rent, lease, sell, exchange, transfer and dispose properties, whether real or personal, in furtherance of the ethical, fraternal and charitable purposes; provided they show economic viability.
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