2021-22 Annual Report
When last year’s report was submitted, we were focused on reinventing brotherhood from a distance. This has been a year of re-emergence. As trying as the pandemic was it truly was an opportunity to learn the dynamics of the modern man. We learned that our future is the best of both worlds. As 2021 allowed us to bring the brotherhood home, the excitement to go back to normal made us stop and realize balance is the future. To that point, in the past year, we incorporated both in-person and virtual experiences with guest speakers, educational programs, and some amazingly fun events. The Supreme Council has embodied this theory by challenging all Valleys in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction with a Valley of Excellence Program. This program was developed to provide important steppingstones to sustaining and growing your Valley. We are proud to say that we embraced this and in the 2020-2021 year achieved our goals, and in 2021-2022 are geared to excel in our goals.
In this report, we would like to focus on the primary goals of the Valley of Excellence Program which included Membership Engagement, Service and Philanthropy, Leadership Development, and Valley Operations.
This category includes Reunions, Family Events, Lodge outreach, New Member Orientations, and Brother to Brother engagements.
Reunions: We held three reunions to kick off the re-opening of in-person gatherings. With the pandemic virtual engagements were popular but many members joined without the camaraderie. We wanted to change that. In the summer of 2021, we held a mini-reunion as an opportunity for new members who either joined virtually or that joined that day to experience a day of brotherhood. In the Fall we hosted a Grandmaster Festival in which together with the Shriners offered new masons a fast track to membership of the Valley. Of course, no season is started without a Fraternal Relations. We opened the event to Friends of Masons to introduce non-masons to the Fraternity. It was an excellent opportunity to share the brotherhood of Freemasonry and it was a big turn-out with over 300 guests. Our Fall Reunion celebrated First Responders and featured a moving recollection by guest speaker Rich Picciotto, author of “Last Man Down,” a Fireman that survived the 911 Twin Tower attacks. Spring Reunion 2022 took us on a historical journey of the Columbian Exposition of Chicago. The Valley has many artifacts from the Fair that were proudly displayed for all to enjoy. Members and their guests came dressed in costumes of the era for a fun-filled pre-event party.
Lodge Outreach: As you know our premier membership recruitment is from supporting our Lodges. Presiding Officers recognized that our Ancient Craft Degree Team needed to be revived. Our team has presented six new masons with their degrees to advance their journey. We also have a Chicago Cup award that is a friendly challenge to Lodges compete for the #1 Top-Line Signer and #1 Lodge.
Family Events: Based on membership expressing the importance of families, the Valley’s Executive Committee reinvented many events to be more family orientated. During the past year, we are happy to have hosted the following: Thanksgiving Dinner, Holiday Party, Family Picnic, Golf Outing, Family Holiday Photos, Fall Family Festival, Superbowl Party, Scholarship Awards, and Youth Programs. Feedback from members supports that including the families increases membership satisfaction involvement, and retention.
Brother to Brother: We all need someone to encourage and support us. Our membership team during the pandemic and beyond has inspired a series of outreach programs of wellness calls and birthday calls. In addition, our Almoner’s Team has been diligent in supporting our members in need both monetarily and emotionally.
Service and Philanthropy
Service is at the core values of a mason. This category in the Valley of Excellence was important to create opportunities for our members. Our members showed up energized to give back. We volunteered at Feed my Starving Children, donated hundreds of coats for Vets, gave toys to tots for the holidays, and treated veterans to Girl Scout cookies. We honored 60+ scholarships to our emerging leaders. And, we hosted our annual support of the Midwestern Dyslexia Center Walk-a-Thon with runners and walkers of all ages that earned thousands of dollars for the Center.
The strength of leadership is the pinnacle of any organization but can also be the hardest to develop. Our Presiding Officers took this on. Dave Truax created the first day-long Eagle Conference Speaker Bureau for the membership. He had seven renowned masonic experts present on multiple levels of the craft. Our Director of Works invited directors to a Director Workshop with a professional theater director that taught them the art of presentation and direction. Guide Sobecki organized a series of virtual speakers to allow members the chance for further enlightenment without having to leave their homes.
We also attended ICOD for our MSA indoctrinates and the Supreme Council’s Session whereas six of our members were honored with their 33o. Truly a year to celebrate!
All in All, we are proud of the past year and our membership engagement endeavors. Our team of staff, executives, board and presidings have proven to transform the fraternity to the emergence of the craft. We ARE a history of brotherhood that IS merged with a progression of today’s man. Our commitments stay strong to our core Scottish Rite values; Reverence to God, Devotional to our Country, Sense of Justice, Tolerance to Others, and, most importantly, Service to our Masonic Brothers.
Karl J. Nygard
Executive Committee Chairman