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|About||Evolving from the traditions of the guilds in the 1700's, the Odd Fellows is a worldwide benevolent and fraternal organization open for men and women.|
The command of the IOOF is to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan." Specifically, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs are dedicated to the following purposes:
- To improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice.
- To help make the world a better place to live by aiding each other in times of need and by organizing charitable projects and activities that would benefit the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the environment and the community in every way possible.
- To promote good will and harmony amongst peoples 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.
Around the world, the Odd Fellows undertake various community and charitable projects. According to an IOOF Sovereign Grand Lodge brochure, the organization's works include:
- The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs spend over US$775 million in relief projects annually
- The Educational Foundation provides substantial loans and grants to students
- SOS Children’s Village provides a caring home for orphaned children in 132 countries around the world
- Odd Fellow and Rebekah Homes provide a caring environment for the elderly
- Living Legacy focuses on planting trees and enhancing the environment
- The Arthritis Foundation
- Visual Research Foundation supports vision care and research through the Wilmer Eye Institute
- United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth sponsors a group of students for an educational trip to the United Nations
- Annual pilgrimages to the "Tomb of the Unknowns" (Arlington National Cemetery, USA), and other Tombs of the Unknown Soldier.
- Odd Fellow and Rebekah Homes provides a caring environment for the elderly and orphans
- Odd Fellow and Rebekah camps and parks provide recreation for the youth and for families
In 17th Century England, people were facing a lot of challenges. Life was tough, often lawless and desperate. Medicine was still crude and in a primitive stage. Life expectancy was about 45 to 50. There were lots of sickness, orphaned kids, widowed mothers and many people cannot afford to pay a decent burial for the dead.
So, ordinary people from different trades and walks of life found it necessary to group together as brothers and sisters and contribute some of their hard-earned wages to a common fund which they could use for unfortunate times such as sickness, losing a job and even death. They would work together to help each other and the unfortunate families back on their feet, whether it was rebuilding a barn that had burned or putting in a new crop after a devastating season.
Such altruistic and friendly society came to be known as "Odd Fellows" because it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind. It was believed that they were "an odd bunch of fellows" who would behave in such a selfless and seemingly impractical fashion. Odd Fellows are also known as "The Three Link Fraternity" which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded on the North American Continent in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when Thomas Wildey and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England. At that time, the city was suffering both a yellow fever epidemic and mass unemployment so they dedicated the organization to "Visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphans."
Odd Fellowship became the 1st national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the beautiful Rebekah Degree on September 20, 1851. This degree is based on the teachings found in the Holy Bible, and was written by the Honorabl
|Founded||January, 1, 1968|
|Products||Friendship, brotherhood and sisterhood, leadership, community service, volunteerism, public speaking, international social networking and self-improvement.|