Odd Interview: Scott Robinson, a new member in PA

Interview
Scott Robinson
Lewisburg, PA, Lodge No. 96

Your name, and a little about yourself/who are you outside of Odd Fellows?

I am Scott Robinson, recently retired from the FBI, after 32 years of service. Originally from Maryland, just outside of Washington DC, I am enjoying a quiet retirement with my wife on 12 acres in central Pennsylvania. I have been a volunteer firefighter for over 40 years and worked the firefighting and recovery operations at the Pentagon and Ground Zero in the days after 9-11-01. Never forget. My hobbies are photography, and finally speaking my mind! I can't be fired now!


Lodge and Location?

Lewisburg Lodge No. 96, Lewisburg, PA. Established in 1844.

Why did you join and when were you initiated?

I joined and was initiated in March, 2017. Received my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degrees in April, 2017, at Allentown, PA.

I joined because my grandfathers and great grand fathers were Odd Fellows back in it's grand days, the early 1900s and 1800s. I joined to honor their memories…and because it is different from any other organization…it's “odd”…and a blast! But honestly, when I found out that the Odd Fellows still continues with the original rituals, I wanted to experience what my ancestors did. Living history, is the best way to experience it. Also, I'm getting to danged old to run into burning buildings. I've spent 40 years doing that. It's time to hang up the axe.

Since I've spent my life in public service, I want to still serve my community…I guess it's part of my DNA. When I found out the Odd Fellows still existed, I thought it would be great to be a part of, and contribute to, such a historic and noble organization.

Do you belong to any other fraternal organizations?

Nope. Odd Fellows is it. Is that odd?

What is your lodge membership like and have you held any positions?

My Lodge has the greatest people in the world! Being from the big city, and joining a semi-small town organization, you would think that I would be an “outsider” and not easily accepted. Nope. From the first meeting, they welcomed me and made me feel like a true Brother. I have never been in any organization like that! That really says something about the quality of the folks who are Odd Fellows and Rebekahs. Certainly odd!

Our membership is small…about 14 with less than 10 active. We rent a room in a building as our Lodge. The original, beautiful Lodge burnt to the ground in the 1960s. Following a few bad business decisions, they never owned a Lodge again. Very sad, and I believe, is one of the reasons membership plummeted. At one time, our Lodge had close to 200 members.

The membership we have now is all male…something that we need to change in order to thrive, but we are growing, changing old paradigms, and have implemented our “Three-Link Plan”. We are beginning exciting new programs, re-introducing old customs, and beginning an exciting new chapter in our existence by actively looking for a permenant Lodge that will be the center of community activity! “Honoring our past, and embracing our future!” Wish us luck!

What does being an Odd Fellow mean to you?

To me it means an honorable tradition of serving our fellow man and the community. I love the history (I'm a history nerd), and the fact that I am walking in my ancestors footsteps. Helping those less fortunate than us, and not judging anyone. Being in the FBI, and a firefighter, I have seen the good and bad in everyone. From the purest of pure, to the most evil of evil. It is a noble cause to help those in need, and to liberate the oppressed…especially those who are defenseless.

The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs have a long history of serving their community. I would like to see the organization thrive again and become a fixture in every community. To me, the valediction, “I believe my home, my church, my lodge, and my community, deserve my best work, my modest pride, my earnest faith, and my deepest loyalty”, really hits home. I don't care about titles, I want our Lodge to be the best, to be a model Lodge in its growth and service to our community. To me, that is the epitome of an Odd Fellow.

What is the worst thing about Odd Fellows and what is the best?

The worst is that we are not treating our Lodges as a true business. No one knows we still exist. We are not visible in the community. As a general rule, in my opinion, the IOOF is not good at marketing and business. There are so many things we can do that are simple, cost-effective, and beneficial to get our name out there.

We need a strong leadership that is not afraid to break the status quo. We need members who are energetic, innovative, and who like and accept challenges. We can no longer accept, “well, that's the way we've always done it.” We need to change the business model, try new things, and market to the type of folks we want as members. We need to be a fun and active organization that people want to be a part of.

We need to update our brochures, advertising, and strategies. When I was researching the Odd Fellows, before I joined, I found a pamphlet that referred to women as “gals”. Well…need I say more? We suck at marketing, and need to change that! …and we can! It's easy. If we don't change, the organization will die a very slow and painful death. A death by a thousand cuts.

Check out our Lodge website and our “Three Link Plan” and progress reports for some more discussion. www.iooflewisburg.org

The best is our people. We have some of the finest people I have ever met. In the few short months that I have been a member, I have made some very strong friendships, and I know those friends would do anything for me, and visa vie. That is rare. Most folks today are self-absorbed, or have the attitude, “what's in it for me?” Not so with the folks that I have met. Truly odd.

What direction would you like to see your lodge or the whole Order go in the future?

Growth. Thrive. Become a pillar of the community again. Our 200th Anniversary is coming up. What an occasion to celebrate and revitalize the entire organization! What an opportunity! Are we doing anything to capture that? If not, sadly, we are already behind the power curve! Where is our advertising and marketing? We only have two years to prep. Get on the goat!

You're our Grand Master. What problems in the order would keep you up at night?

OMG…I wouldn't sleep. Things already keep me up at night. What can I do that's innovative and captures excitement for the organization? What can I do to stop the bleeding and resuscitate? How can I motivate people to have the excitement and energy that we need? How can I get a permanent location for our Lodge, and others? But the hardest part is to start…the rest is easy.

Recently, our Lodge partnered with another Lodge to perform the Initiatory Degree. We introduced a new element to the program, the formal signing of a Membership Certificate with a quill pen. Check out our website for details. That brought excitement back! We now have a wonderful partnership and fellowship with another Lodge. “In union, there is strength.” We had a blast, and gave the new member one heck of a memory! It excited and invigorated everyone! That is what we need. The excitement equals new members. People want to be a part of an organization that is fun and exciting!

I would like to see us honor our past and embrace our future. Are we recruiting and grooming the next generation to follow in our foot-steps? Are we ensuring that the Lodges thrive and grow? What are we doing to market the organization? Do we have a robust campaign? That all would keep me up at night. I may need a valium and a beer!

When riding the lodge goat. Do you prefer sitting frontwards backwards or sidesaddle?

Backwards. Duh. I love a challenge. …and being former law enforcement, I'm used to dealing with asses!

Any good stories or any thoughts you would like to share?

The best time I had was at the Allentown Degree Rally. Wow! The honor of being in such a beautiful and historic building, and being a part of the same ceremonies that my ancestors went through in the 1800s and 1900s was truly amazing! All the history. All the glory of the organization. The folks from the Grand Lodge of PA that put it on worked their butts off to ensure it was enjoyable for everyone! It was nothing short of amazing! Everyone was so friendly, we laughed, we joked, and had a wonderful time.

Everyone should be a part of something that grand! That is what we need to market…without giving away any secrets…the Odd Fellows is an amazing organization! It is truly an honor to be a part of it. I believe that is the moment when I totally dedicated myself, as best that I can, to doing my best and using my talents to make it thrive. My dad once told me, “your gift from God is your talents. What you do with those talents is your gift back to God.”

Being the “new guy”, I was timid to suggest a new way of doing something. But, my Lodge Brothers have been very accepting and encouraging. That is odd in any organization!

I love to see my lodge Brothers faces light up when I introduce something new! For example, our Certificates that we developed take elements from old originals and are customized for our needs. They are simple, elegant, and great for motivation. We designed custom t-shirts for our Lodge. They are a big hit and are great for marketing! Plus, they generate income. We sell them to members, other Lodges, and the public. Check out the store on our website.

I love to see the excitement in our Lodge when we discuss acquiring a building that is ours and will be a hive of activity and income generation. Revitalization. Resuscitation.

I love the prospect of being a part of revitalizing our Lodge to make it once again great…something that everyone wants to be a part of…something that is highly visible and active in our community. Something that my grandfathers and great-grandfathers would be proud of.

I would love the Odd Fellows to again be a common topic of discussion…rather than hearing, “I didn't know they are still around.”

We need to change together. As our forefathers said during the Revolution, “unite or die”.

2 thoughts on “Odd Interview: Scott Robinson, a new member in PA

  1. What a story. You said something in your missive about “looking back to build on the future” or something like that. That is my “watchwords” for my upcoming year as Noble Grand for my Rebekah Lodge –(second timer). I am a 57 1/2 year Rebekah. I love going to other lodges and being in their buildings — not all are alike and the history behind them. I am in the Sacramento Valley, California and will be initiated into IOOF in Texas at their Degree Day. This is where my daughter-in-law is being initiated as well. As you can see, we are Family. My husband is a Past Grand of his lodge (now defunct) and active in Sacramento #2, my daughter is currently Noble Grand of Eldo RL 282, Latrobe, CA and a Past Secretary of Theta Rho Assembly of California and our son is a Past Treasurer, Grand Junior Lodge of CA.

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