Woodmen of the World asset to community

By Billy Hill Woodmen of the World Lodge 94

The local lodge 94 of the Woodmen of the World is at the intersection of highways 182 and 82 about three miles east of Eupora.

The local lodge has donated hundreds of flags in this area to fire departments, schools, cities, counties and churches in the past 50 years. Things that the local lodge has done for this area include monetary donations to city parks, schools, Boy and Girl Scouts, ball teams, ballparks and other community projects. It also gives away Christmas baskets to needy families and hosts an Easter egg hunt at the lodge each Easter. This year, the hunt was open to the public and the lodge gave away more than $500 in prizes to the children who attended.

The local Woodmen have donated $500 to the Cub Scouts and also let them use the lodge for their meetings. The lodge has been used by many groups for family reunions, benefits, weddings, church meetings, gospel singings and many other family-related projects.

Woodmen of the World was founded in 1890 in Omaha, Neb., by Joseph Cullen Root after hearing a sermon about “pioneer woodsmen clearing away the forest to provide for their families.” Taking his own surname to heart, he wanted to start a society that “would clear away problems of financial security for its members.”

The organization formerly owned a 19-story tower at 14th and Farnam streets, which was the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast at the time of its dedication in 1912. WOW built its current 30- story Woodmen Tower in 1969. It was Omaha’s tallest building until the completion of the 45-story First National Bank Tower in 2002.

Today, Woodmen of the World provides financial solutions to approximately 800,000 members in the United States. These include life insurance and annuities, cancer insurance, and access to mutual funds, 529 college savings plans and other financial services. Members are also eligible to receive a wide array of fraternal benefits. These include participation in a youth program, a camping experience for youth and senior members, disaster relief assistance, a prescription drug discount card and monetary support for members’ orphaned children.

Woodmen of the World is one of the leading presenters of U.S. flags to schools and non-profit groups, having presented more than 1.4 million flags over the past 60 years. The Woodmen have donated flagpoles and American flags to schools, fire departments, parks, churches and other public places.

To mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks, Woodmen of the World hung two 50- x 100-foot U.S. flags on the Woodmen Tower. Twin beams of light, with a combined 10-billion candela, illuminated the Omaha skyline each evening during the week of 9/11 in tribute to the World Trade Center.

With the Woodmen of the World/American Red Cross disaster relief partnership, the organization’s 800,000 members are encouraged to support the disaster relief work of their local Red Cross chapters. In 2005, following the Gulf Coast hurricanes, Woodmen of the World members reported more than 206,000 hours of volunteer assistance. This included preparing more than 175,000 meals for storm victims, evacuees and rescue workers. Woodmen of the World camp facilities in many states were also used as mass shelter sites.

About 2,000 community-based Woodmen of the World lodges are located throughout the nation. Lodges conduct volunteer, patriotic and charitable activities that benefit individuals and communities.

One enduring physical legacy of the organization is distinctive headstones in the shape of a tree stump. This was an early benefit of Woodmen of the World membership and they are found in cemeteries nationwide with several in the Greensboro cemetery. This program was abandoned in the late 1920s as it was too costly.