Not your father's social club | July 16, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - July 16, 2010

Not your father's social club

To survive in the 21st century, fraternal and service groups reinvent themselves to attract younger members

by Sue Dremann

In floor-length gowns — some sparkling with sequins, all adorned with medallions — the 13 women of the Palo Alto Rebekah Lodge No. 291 stood dwarfed in the voluminous Blue Room in downtown Palo Alto's Masonic Center on a recent Wednesday evening.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Clarence Woodbey
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 16, 2010 at 2:03 pm

This is an excellent article that shows the basic positive human desire for a sense of community.

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Elks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Excellent article by Sue Dremann on Service Clubs.

We would like to correct a few items regarding the construction of the new Palo Alto Elks Lodge facilities. As mentioned in the article the new Lodge will have extensive recreational facilities when we open in mid-October or early November, but at this point there are no plans to have an indoor pool, basketball court or rock-climbing wall. Instead the facilities will have a bistro and additional social areas geared to family health and recreation. The average age of new members over the last five years is 48.

Note: The Elks nationwide contributed 306.7 million dollars in donations and services to charities in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.

Exalted Ruler, Donna Keiffer
Chairman of Board, Chet Hayes
Lodge Secretary, Bob Fleck, PER"

Like this comment
Posted by middle aged
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Excellent article.

I have one word for the older members hoping to entice younger people: mentorship.

That builds relationships, communities, and gives younger people the foundation and times to give back then, too.

(Though I openly admit I am looking forward to the new Elk's facility opening and hoping they remembered to put in family bathrooms!)

Like this comment
Posted by middle aged
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I meant

That [mentorship] builds relationships, communities, and gives younger people the foundation and TIME to give back then, too.

Sorry for the error.

Like this comment
Posted by Gordon
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

So I am wondering where all these organizations are recruiting? I don't recall seeing an invitation to join or how to for that matter. If it was in the article I missed it as I get bored easily I admit and it was a long article.

Like this comment
Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

Just to be clear, in order to join the Elks club you must sign an oath that you believe in God and that you are not a Communist (!). These are nice institutions, but they don't serve the community - just their little niche. I can't sign that oath because I don't believe in God, but who is going to sign an oath stating they are not Communists? How nutty is that?

Like this comment
Posted by 25 Year Member
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 22, 2010 at 2:20 am

The average age of the Palo Alto Lodge looks to be a lot older than 48 years old, possibly new members only, but the average age of members is sustantially older than 48 years of age.

Like this comment
Posted by Debra LaVergne
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 29, 2010 at 6:27 pm

It didn't say anywhere in the article that the average age of the Palo Alto Rebekah Lodge was 48.

Palo Alto Rebekah Lodge will have another open meeting on Wednesday, September 8. That evening we will pack care packages to send to American servicewomen. We call this our "Hug a Servicewoman" program.

The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs require members to believe in a Supreme being and be loyal to their country.

For more information about the Rebekahs, you can contact me at palo_alto_rebekahs at

Like this comment
Posted by Chaparral
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 27, 2010 at 9:25 am

Very informative piece. Good research. As a member of the Palo Alto Elks lodge I can state with a degree of accuracy that the new lodge will have a different feel and approach. On a national level the Elks leadership is cognizant of the changing tide in American society that has caused the decline in membership numbers all service organizations have experienced. The Elks have embarked on a leading edge program to bring the lodge to the people and to welcome all Americans who wish to become new members. True, you must believe in God and be loyal to the United States, but I think the 'Communist' thing is jokingly outdated and will be rescinded, along with other dubious anachronisms, as a requirement for joining the Elks. A phone call to the Elks lodge office (650-969-1172) or a visit to the Palo Alto Elks web site will provide information applying for Elks membership.
The important thing to realize is: This ain't your father's Elks lodge. Not any longer. A new day is dawning, an exciting new lodge will soon open its doors, and ss Bob Dylan put it," "The times, they are a'changin'"

Like this comment
Posted by Chaparral
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

Rumor has it the new Elks building will be opening its doors early in November. I hear from an Elk insider that it's a spacious and attractive structure with state of the art fitness center and swimming pool. Wonder if that will attract the youth of the community?

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Member
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Dec 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm


We ALL need to remember that it is OUR LODGE. We need to take an active participation in how our money is being spent. The lodge hired a facilty manager, which was supposed to ONLY BE TEMPORARY position, for 6 months, now they want to hire him full time. His salary is $8,500 per month - $102,00 per year + benefits. He said that he could not afford to work for less. We need to find some who can afford to work for less! We were told that he was hired at this high salary only because it was a temporary job while he was setting things in motion to open. Our last longtime facility manager was paid $20/hr $3,200/month, so why have we hired someone that is being paid $5,300 MORE a month, than or last facilities manager. Now we hear that we are hiring a web designer/writer to order dishes/glasses etc. at $50/hr. a job that Charo and Lorrain would gladly do for FREE for us. Hopefully, the lodge does not decide to try to hire another full time employee at a salary of 50/hr = $8,000/month and $96,000/annully. These are OUR desisions as memmbers, please attend a lodge meeting and inquire about these outrageous salaries before they are hired. It is the members lodge and members need to speak up about how our money should be spent. We have long time employees that have been rehired a 1/5 of these high salaries and most of them travel at least an 1.5 hours each way to work for our lodge. We can't afford to pay these salaries, our taxes alone on the new lodge have sky rocketed.

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