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Woodmen Lodge honors members

AHOSKIE – Looking around a room packed with members and guests who each enjoyed a delicious meal, it’s hard to imagine that Woodmen of the World (WOW) once didn’t have office space to call their own.

Now, 117 years later, Woodmen of the World has evolved into the largest fraternal benefit society with open membership in the United States.

Its local members joined in on a special event recently where WOW Lodge #328 hosted an appreciation banquet at Catherines Restaurant in Ahoskie. There, state and regional WOW officials sang the praises of the local Lodge, encouraging the group to continue their efforts of community spirit and volunteerism.

“I really appreciate what this Lodge is doing in the local community,” WOW Area Manager Sharon Britt said. “What’s really good to see are the different generations represented here tonight. That shows me you are doing a good job reaching out to the young generation.”

Britt emphasized that Woodmen affords its members an opportunity to build friendships that last a lifetime.

WOW Fraternal Coordinator Eric Pilson spoke briefly to the local Lodge members and their guests concerning benefits. Other than life insurance, Pilson said WOW had diversified to include such offerings as disaster relief, catastrophic illness coverage, orphan child benefits and newborn benefits.

Pilson also reminded the local Lodge members of WOW’s two traditional camps n the Woodmen Youth Camp, scheduled this year to run between June 18 and Aug. 3, and the Senior Camp (May 21-24).

The evening’s featured speaker was Daniel W. Rice III who serves as Director of Capital Services in the Kinston office as well as serving on Woodmen’s National Board of Directors.

Rice chose not to dwell long on WOW’s business services, rather using his time behind the podium to challenge Lodge #328 to make a difference in their community.

While WOW lodges are famous for their donations of American flags to non-profit organizations, Rice urged the local membership to reach out to more such entities within the local community.

“May I also suggest you make an assessment of your Lodge hall and consider making it as visible as possible,” Rice said. “Maybe you should consider changing it from a Lodge hall to a community center. Make it a place where people will see it as a good place to go.”

From the business side, Rice said WOW officials were listening to the needs of their members and were updating services such as investment products, tax-deferred college savings plans and long-term care.

As part of the banquet, Lodge #328 members were awarded longevity pins. The Lifesaver Award was presented to Sandra Williams, a registered nurse who, while off-duty, performed the Heimlich maneuver to save a person choking on an object.

The banquet also featured the introduction of the Homeland Hero Program. Offered free to Woodmen members that are paid or volunteer firemen, the program will pay a one-time $5,000 benefit to the family of a fireman killed in the line of duty.

As a further token of appreciation to members of local fire departments represented at the Lodge #328 banquet, WOW officials handed out stuffed yellow lab puppies for the firemen to have on hand to offer to a child involved in a tragic situation.

Locally, Eleanor Hollowell serves as the Woodmen of the World Field Representative.

Today, Woodmen is one of the largest fraternal benefit societies with more than 810,000 members who belong to more than 2,000 lodges across the United States and conduct volunteer projects that benefit individuals, families and communities.

There are over 100,000 Woodmen members in North Carolina, of which 60,000 reside in the eastern part of the state.