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Chapter 14
What the Grange Stands for in Community Service

"Because we met the needs of others, our lives have been enriched."
-A Granger's comment

Unselfish Service to Others

Grange members for nearly 100 years have been known far and wide for their unselfish, practical community service which has made the lives of others happier and better-has often turned discouragement to comfort and hope-and has improved the appearance, supplied added conveniences, and advanced in a hundred or a thousand ways their communities as better places in which to live.

This very day, thousands of Grange members in hundreds of Subordinate Grange communities, some with publicity and some so quietly that few if any know about it, are making the lives of their neighbors and fellow citizens brighter with lighter burdens, as well as conducting community progress programs, creating new facilities and structures and improving old ones for the benefit of all.

Ever since the Grange was founded in 1867, the practical projects of its Patrons are tangible evidence of community spirit among its young and old. Thousands of volunteers have put countless hours and immeasurable personal resources into this work, and have done it with pleasure and a spirit of friendliness, dedication, and regard for others.

Because the Subordinate Granges are made up of people who have common interests in their local community and area, and because the Grange is truly a family organization, it is well fitted to perform this community service. No other farm organization and few community groups have the assets in people, in knowledge, and in spirit, as well as declared organization purpose, to carry on this type of work.

The methods of community improvement, betterment, and neighbor serving projects are literally unlimited, and vary from community to community as Grange members work together to "provide leadership for community improvement where leadership is lacking; to support other leadership where such support is the greater need."

The Community Progress Program

Incentive for this work began early in Grange history. The very first activities of Grange members were designed to help each other, their neighbors, and their community-this later developing into a National Grange Principle through state and national promotion and incentives.

In 1927, Honor Grange specifications were set up by the National Grange, which presented Award Achievement Certificates to Subordinate Granges meeting definite community service requirements.

Then came the splendid Community Service Program in 1947, known since 1964 as the Community Progress Program, which has resulted in new high records of achievement due to outstanding support, promotion, and incentive activities of the national contest co-sponsored by the National Grange and Sears-Roebuck Foundation.

Recognition of projects that contribute to making a community a better place in which to live and work is the aim of the current jointly sponsored program in which State Contests and finally the national awards have been featured.

The 1966-67 program invites Subordinate Granges to submit entries up to June 1, 1967 of well-conceived projects that contribute to community life and welfare. Included in the challenge to all Granges are suggestions that they consider, in the light of today's conditions, one or more of the following:

Projects to increase employment and income-the expansion and development of rural industries and more productive agriculture.

Projects to aid in serving your people with better schools, health, sanitation, communication, protection, and recreation, and old age comforts.

Projects to improve the living environment, appearance, and culture of your

Projects to develop the youth, the adults, and the families of the less fortunate
and disadvantaged.

Examples of Tremendous Accomplishments

In a booklet entitled, The Contest Everybody Wins, Donald S. Stroetzel tells the story of one year's activities of Granges in the Community Progress Program. His dramatic story of the activities of more than 275,000 Grangers tells how they contributed four million man-hours of volunteer labor to community projects-enough, if concentrated, to build an entire city of 2,000 homes.

From other reports, the following excerpts were selected. However, to the thousands of Grangers who unselfishly sacrifice countless hours of personal time and personal expenditures, it seems rather unfair to be unable to tell here what they have done and are doing, and to properly thank them and commend them for their efforts. So, the examples cited are merely suggestive of what many, many other Grange groups have done, and are doing, to accomplish something badly needed in their community, namely a rebirth o f community pride, and a new recognition o f both individual and organizational responsibility.

Union (Ohio) Grange No. 1648

Major changes in the lives of so many rural people, as urbanization spreads, is highlighted in this right-from-the-heart statement in the Community Progress Report of Union Grange No. 1648, Richland County, Shelby, Ohio:

The founders of Union Grange had the Grange home very well located on a knoll easily seen by the surrounding countryside and four and one-half miles from the nearest town which has a population of 10,000. The community has made many radical changes since the Grange was founded in March, 1906. The schools in the vicinity have been absorbed in the city system and many of the rural church members have been absorbed by the city churches. The Grange stands alone to hold the interest of our rural people and keep alive their love of nature and interest in our open country.

Owing to the close proximity of the expanding industrial centers around Mansfield and Shelby the problems of the community are changing and more and more farmers are converting into part-time farmers and there is an influx of urban people into the section which until recently was purely rural population and depended entirely upon the farm for its livelihood.

The aim of our community service program is to aid in helping improve living conditions, to promote peace and fellowship throughout the world, to cooperate with schools, churches, and other organizations which have the same program.

A total of 337 members worked many long hours in service to our community; 267 non-members and our junior members have also contributed much to the programs.

We hope that through our Community Service activities we not only are doing good today but also that we are making our youth conscious of the needs of the community and are impressing them with the fact that much can be done about meeting these needs by working together through an organization.

This Grange is a real community force. It has converted 80 acres of farmland for the entire county to enjoy as a recreation area. It has helped build a $32,000 lodge. It sends Christmas checks of $5 to every member of the Armed Services and pays their Grange dues for as long as they are in the service. It provides an annual $100 scholarship to a graduating senior for study in agriculture, home economics, or to become a vet or a nurse. It has built a splendid $25,000 dining hall which it makes available for community meetings of the Chamber of Commerce, railroad employees, agricultural groups, civic clubs, and other organizations.

Its adoption of a Korean orphan encouraged others to do likewise. Its junior Grange followed their elder's example by supporting an Indian boy from Cherokee Indian Mission at Oaks, Okla.

There are countless other examples of most unusual service projects that have had a tremendous impact on the lives and fortunes of neighbors and other citizens in the area.

Flowing Well (Nebr.) Grange No. 396

Flowing Well Grange No. 396, in Beaver Crossing, Nebr., revived Main Street in their community. Their small Grange Hall, built many years ago, was recently replaced by a new hall which was so outstanding compared to other nearby buildings that it motivated others along Main Street to make improvements, thus beautifying the whole business community.

Patrons of this Grange also cleared 16 bad corners of plum brush and volunteer tree growth to provide a clearer view and reduce accidents. The ladies made warm covers for orphan children, collected hundreds of old pairs of glasses, conducted a Diabetic Protection Program, sponsored a 12 months' Farmhouse and Highway Safety Program, staged a teachers reception, worked on a long-range plan to build up doctor service in the area, provided rural vacations for city children, and helped collect clothing for needy children in other parts of the world.

Vashon-Maury (Wash.) Grange No. 1105

Vashon-Maury Grange No. 1105 of King County, Washington, was instrumental in greatly improving telephone service to 1400 subscribers on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. They helped long-suffering subscribers get better service, have their deposits returned which had been held for years, forced the telephone company to agree to provide repair service on a 7-day 24-hour-a-day basis, provide toll slips for long distance charges, and make improvements in lines and equipment. This Grange also fought high ferryboat tolls for pickup trucks, and won the battle when fares were reduced.

Antelope Gap (Wyo.) Grange No. 60

Another Grange-Antelope Gap No. 60, at Wheatland, Wyoming, consisted of only 25 families. After eight years of effort this Grange finally put on the spurt that brought telephone service to the area. Fifteen Grange members worked 2428 hours or 303 man-days in all kinds of weather to put up 32 miles of poles and telephone lines. To help the men, Grange wives served meals at the Grange Hall and in the field.

Hamden (Conn.) Grange No. 99

Here is what a community Grange at New Haven, Conn., has done for its neighbors. Hamden Grange No. 99 meets in the Parish House of a community church. Its 239 members are mostly employed outside agriculture. They are but one example of what is happening throughout America in that worthy people will congregate together in an organization like the Grange because it provides "that certain something" people want and need in the way of a Center, whose program and ideals encourage them to want to participate. This is another case proving that Americans will gravitate to where there is an inspiring program and dedicated leadership which encourages them to donate their time and talents to the service of others.

As a result of Hamden Grange No. 99 Patrons having the dream of a community recreation center, they developed 100 acres of country land into Brooksvale Recreation Park with a beautiful recreational pavilion. This four-year project included Grangers providing $3459.94 out of $5839.74, which the project cost. In one year, Grangers donated 1,000 hours of work for poison ivy eradication, making and marking trails, clearing camp sites, building shelters, feeding birds, and planting shrubs and trees.
Spencer (ICY.) Grange No. 1110

In the Community Service Contest, emphasis has been placed on the effort of the Grange members in a "do-it-yourself" type of program. This new concept of Community Progress is built on the idea that the entire community should be involved in establishing goals and carrying out the projects. Grange leadership in uniting the organizations and agencies then becomes a major criteria.

Spencer Grange, No. 1110, in Tioga County, New York, serves as an excellent example.

Spencer is a small rural community of 800 residents, formerly dependent upon the agricultural economy. With consolidation of the better farms, and the elimination of the marginal farms, many of the people found employment in nearby educational and industrial communities.

joint meetings with the Chamber of Commerce of Spencer, Operation Advance groups (an Extension sponsored program), and individuals revealed seven areas of concern: (1) Industrial Development, (2) Planning, (3) Natural Resource Utilization and Tourism, (4) Vocational Education, (5) Local Recreation, (6) Public Utilities and Governmental Services, and (7) Community Appearance. Eight major and six minor projects developed from these concerns.

One of the major projects involved transforming a swamp in the center of Spencer into a beautiful eight-acre lake. An island reached by a bridge adds to the scenic beauty, as does the park area, equipped with fireplaces and picnic tables. Over 8,000 man-hours of volunteer labor went into this one project, as well as $11,000 collected locally.

Plans for the future include a band stand, a bird sanctuary, a live biology laboratory for school children, and an open-air theater for nature lecturers.

The Grange helped a local industry double their floor space; secured an expressway; formed a $50,000 stock corporation; have a draft for a zoning ordinance; awarded $100 Vocational Scholarships to 15 students; sponsored a Mariner Scout Troop and Cub Pack and carried out several other projects.

Of Spencer Grange's 149 members, 67 per cent or 100, took an active part in the Community Progress Program, as did 897 nonmembers. Community pride has been developed, community goals established, and community unity secured.

The village of Spencer has a future because of the leadership of Spencer Grange in the Community Progress Program.

It has been well said that Grange activities such as these are practical demonstrations of Democracy in action.

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