Presentation of Badges of Merit

This year, the True Fellowship Lodge was pleased to award the Badge of Merit, one of the highest decorations a lodge can bestow, to three members whose service has been truly above and beyond the duties of Odd Fellows in service to their lodge and their community.

On November 1st, at our regular meeting, Ben Shuler was given his award during the Good of the Order portion of our meeting. Along with the award, he was given a letter signed by the Noble Grand and Vice Grand. His many years of faithful and dedicated service have ensured the continuation of the lodge and made it a beloved treasure within our community. In particular, he has been our chef for most of our food-related events, and his extensive knowledge of construction and repair work has kept the lodge building in good order, ensuring our most important asset continues to serve our members.

On November 4th, Debbie Shuler, now also the Grand Patriarch of the Grand Encampment of California, was presented with her award at her own Grand Patriarch reception during the Welcome presented by True Fellowship. She too received a letter signed by the Noble Grand and the Vice Grand. She has variously served in nearly every position within the lodge, but chiefly as its treasurer. She’s guided us through years of tax filings and financial reports, and guarded the lodge against losses, maintaining a well-organized and extensive collection of records that ensures that at any time, the financial condition of the lodge can be accurately reported. But beyond that, she has served at nearly every function, hosted nearly every event, and been present for nearly every meeting, providing wise counsel to ensure the lodge remains in good order.

On November 15th, Andrew Crockett, our Warden and soon to be installed Vice Grand, was presented with his award during the Good of the Order portion of our meeting. As well as the award, he was presented with his own letter, signed by the Noble Grand and Vice Grand, explaining how his service has benefited the lodge. In short, he got people interested in us again. He took us from a lodge barely able to make quorum, into one that’s added 2 dozen people within a year, and which has more waiting to join at the next scheduled initiation. He didn’t do it alone of course, but as leader of the outreach committee, he was the chief architect of a renewal which had seemed nearly impossible prior to his joining. While the badge of merit is ordinarily conferred on a member in recognition of many years of service and dedication, it was decided by the lodge that, new though he was, his actions were so beyond the duty of Odd Fellowship, and so great a service, that he had already earned it.

There are three essential components, without which, our lodge would cease to function – the building itself, its finances, and the people who meet within it. Ben, Debbie, and Andrew have preserved all three of these at True Fellowship #52. The city of San Jose used to have many Odd Fellows lodges, but today we have only one. Yet, thanks to their combined efforts, it is a strong one.

These three badges of merit honor immense dedication to our lodge’s continued function and service to our community, and present an example that will be hard to follow, but inspiring for any who would try.