Mel Astrahan

One of the most socially useful things a Grand Master can do is to raise funds for charitable projects. As Grand Master of California for the 2018-2019 term, which happens to coincide with the 1819-2019 bicentennial anniversary of Odd Fellowship in the United States, I have adopted a bicentennial theme for my fund raising endeavors and memorabilia. My primary project is the Andrew Lamphere Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Foundation which provides free echocardiography testing of school children for this otherwise hidden, life threatening condition that can can trigger dangerous arrhythmias and lead to sudden cardiac arrest during strenuous athletic activities. Additional projects include our 2019 Odd Fellows and Rebekahs Float in the New Years Day Pasadena Rose Parade, and some long overdue roof repairs for the multi-purpose room (and other maintenance required) at our Three Links Camp.

To raise funds for my projects, I designed these bicentennial commemorative, silver and gold belt buckles which feature the three links and have arranged for their manufacture by the famous Montana Silversmiths company that also makes the CMSA trophy buckles that I have won and often wear.

To celebrate the bicentennial of our Order, no more than 200 serial numbered copies of this buckle will be manufactured. The buckles are of the finest quality and should be considered as family heirlooms. Each buckle is intended to raise $100 to benefit the Lamphere Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Foundation. Please support this project and help save the life of a young athlete. To learn more about this disease, please download this report: Hypertrophic_Cardiomyopathy.

My mascot is the infamous “Tribble”, originally a paradigm for the dangers of overpopulation, intoduced in a late 1967 episode of the TV show Star Trek. The Tribble was an innocuous, purring, furry critter that
multiplied prodigiously when fed.

Unfortunately, Odd Fellowship is not presently in any danger of overpopulation.

My watchword is “Feed an Odd Fellow”, the implication being that I hope Odd Fellows will heed the example of the Tribbles and prodigiously multiply our membership numbers after we feed them. My pins represent “IOOF bicentennial tribbles” and come in 2 sizes, the larger has a grey background, the smaller a shiny background for greater “bling” effect. The pins are sold in pairs, one large, one small.

Also in honor of our bicentennial, I have designed $200 “Wildey” souvenir bills. The bills are signed by myself, Rebekah Assembly President Ernestine Olson and incoming 2019 Sovereign Grand Master Douglas Pittman.

Interestingly, the city of Trier in Germany has sold tens of thousands of €0 souvenir bills this year in honor of the 200th birthday of the infamous Karl Marx! Lets see if a $200 Wildey bill can do even better, please consider purchasing one for every member of your lodge.

Coming this summer will be collectable bicentennial themed coins, patterned after an early 1800s era silver dollar. The first 200 coins will be minted of fine silver (hallmarked .999) and will be serial numbered. Subsequent coins will be silver plated and without serial numbers or hallmarks but available at much lower cost. I have more commemorative items that may appear later in the year if these initial items sell out. It is my goal to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 in support of my projects, so, please, collect and enjoy these bicentennial commemoratives and also help save a child’s life by vigorously promoting and supporting all the promotional items.

In my subsequent monthly messages I will be presenting my legislative, organizational, and other projects designed to promote and publicize Odd Fellowship and eventually regrow our membership. I thank you for allowing me to serve our Order during this “bicentennial” year as your Grand Master and I look forward to visiting with many of you as I travel the jurisdiction.