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19 Lions And Other Fraternal Organizations

By Janet Snyder

For the purposes of the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE 16), the definition of a service organization is fairly wide-ranging. It is an organization that provides services to user entities. A more descriptive definition is an organization where the members meet regularly for the purposes of planning and executing charitable works. Rotary International and 19 Lions Clubs International are examples of service organizations. Formerly the exclusive preserve of the male of the species, such clubs are now opening up membership to include women.

Lions International was established in Illinois by Melvin Jones, who happened also to be a member of the Freemasons. He strongly believed that to make progress in life, you had to get involved in helping other people. Founded in 1917, by 2015 it had 46,000 chapters in 200 countries all over the world. It presently has more than one and a half million members.

The Lions' official colors are purple and gold. Membership is by invitation only, although if you are interested in joining, you need only contact the local branch to introduce yourself. Multiple District 19 represents North Idaho, members in Washington state, and British Columbia in western Canada.

The Rotarians formed in 1868 by a group of businessmen led by lawyer Paul P. Harris. Their mission was to elevate the ethical standards in the practice of business and the professions. They gave themselves the name Rotary because the meetings rotated from one of their offices to another. The name stuck when the organization grew so large that they had to start meeting at external venues. This occurred just one year after forming.

Rotarians apply what is called the 4-way test to determine whether a project is compatible with Rotary aims. It is a set of guidelines for helping faltering businesses get back on their feet. In order to qualify for support, it must be true, fair, foster friendship and goodwill, and it must be beneficial to everybody involved.

The Freemasons is another very famous and successful fraternal organization. Its roots go back to the stonemasons. The Freemasons are steeped in history and have many traditions, ceremonies and rituals. They can be controversial to some people. For example, they have strict criteria for membership, in that members must be free and have a good character. The basic organizational unit of the club is the Grand Lodge. Most Grand Lodges expect their members to publicly declare a belief in a Supreme Being, with some having a preference for a specific religious denomination.

George Washington was the Master of his local Lodge in Alexandria, Virginia. There is a painting of him presiding over the Lodge in full Masonic regalia. On his death, he was buried with Masonic honors.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks was established in New York City in 1868 by a man named Joseph M. Norcross. It, too, has its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the largest fraternal orders in the United States and has more than one million members. Not bad for an organization that started out as a social club for minstrel performers. The Elks were originally a whites-only organization and got themselves in hot water in the courtroom over this policy in the early 1970s.

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