CENTRAL MAINE - National Grange Master/President Ed Luttrell came all the way from Oregon to Garland to remind members "this is where it happens, at the local level where members like you grab hold of the organization and take it where it should be." Luttrell was accompanied by Maine Master/President James Owens and who were in the area to install officers of the Grange Pomona (District) and Garland Grange. Perhaps because of the rarity of all levels of the Grange being represented at once, nearly fifteen Granges from the area were represented.
Since Garland Grange took advantage of the occasion to install Gladys Strout as a new member, Luttrell couldn't resist noting that she could "tell us where to go" and as the laughter subsided he pointed out that there is no seniority in the Grange. "New members have just as much power as the older ones," and age and gender do not play a role either. (Membership including full voting rights is open to 14 year olds and the Grange is truly a family-oriented organization.
Luttrell is clearly excited about what he calls "newness in a 140 year old organization," noting that "growing the grange isn't just about adding members. Whenever we move the organization forward and perform services and programs to benefit our communities, we are growing."
Members in attendance seemed electrified by Luttrell's comments and began to realize that their individual Granges are, in fact, growing. Out-going Dexter Master/President Alan Thomas noted that his Grange is so youth oriented they "almost forget we are a Grange." He attributes much of their success to the fact that they "make it easy" for families to attend meetings by providing a dinner he prepares instead of following the Grange tradition of "potluck."
Guilford Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma noted that Valley Grange is becoming something of a "literacy Grange," having adopted several programs including Words for Thirds, Grange Bookworms volunteering to listen to kids read, and most recently a "Literacy for Health" program in cooperation to assist the local visiting nurse in providing books for families with pre-school aged children.
State leader James Owens from Bingham echoed Luttrell's sentiments noting that Grange Membership in the state of Maine has "stabilized and we are well positioned for a period of growth."
The Grange is built as a grassroots organization and comprised of four distinct divisions. The local unit is called a Subordinate Grange. These local units form the Pomona or district Grange, typically approximating county lines. The Maine State Grange is headquartered in Augusta and the National Grange in Washington D.C. The organization's declaration of principles adopted in 1874 includes this important concept: United by the strong and faithful tie of Agriculture, we mutually resolve to labor for the good of our Order, our country, and mankind. This principal has served the Grange well, attracting people who desire a sense of community and feel a need to contribute to the greater good.
Luttrell's closing challenge to the group was to "tell somebody the best thing about tonight's meeting" and added that if each person did that he was the only person there who belonged to a "boring" Grange. After receiving strange looks from all in attendance, he pointed out that his Grange is located in "Boring-Damascus, Oregon" and suggested "Google it if you don't believe me!"
Information regarding Grange activities in the area is available from any member with events typically listed in the community section of local newspapers. Interested parties may also call district leader Bill Bemis at 924-3537 or district publicity director Walter Boomsma at 876-4131.
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