CONGRATULATIONS to Our 2018 Essay Contest Scholarship WINNER CASSI COLANGELO!
At our regular meeting on June 7th, we were pleased to receive our finalist for our essay contest and notify her that she won our scholarship prize. Cassi Colangelo was introduced to our Noble Grand Joe Avila, Jr., by Warden Joseph Dowdy (who organized the competition). In the picture on the left you can see Joseph presenting Cassi with the check made out to the school she is attending at the University of California Los Angeles. When asked what her major will be, she said that she plans to study English and Administration and will return to the Central Coast to become a school principal; perhaps in her hometown of Santa Maria. We at the Odd Fellows wish Cassi the best of luck in her studies and congratulate her on her win of $1,000 toward her studies. We also hope to receive news of her success at school and in her chosen career path and perhaps she will visit us again where she will be just as welcome as she was when she won. We appreciate Cassi’s willingness to learn more about Odd Fellows and Rebekahs and to write about us. Who will win next year?
Winning Essay: “Who Are the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs?”
Something so easily overlooked, under-appreciated, and most of the time ignored, is the belief in the power of common goodness driven by pure hearts. Not just ordinary common goodness, but the kind of common goodness that pushes one to step outside of their comfort level in order to help an unknown neighbor, the kind that forces a smile despite a rollercoaster day, instead of such an easily-worn frown, the kind that allows an individual to see the world with a different lens, blind to its faults and shortcomings, or the kind of common goodness that makes one believe that there is still perhaps hints of goodness still left in this ever-so-changing world. This small concept and belief is something that has deteriorated as time has progressed and continues to do so without much glimpse of hope as such a task seems so unattainable to common man. But this concept, this world-changing concept, is exactly what I believe the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs saw hidden in our world around us. But instead of backing away out of fear from such a heightened task, they gladly faced the challenge before them. The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs are some of the only capable beings who do the things that many of us simply choose not to. We all are so quick to admit and cecum to the evils that stem from our world and circumstances, and in truth, many of us are so eager to surface these grievances, but in return, not many are eager and willing to take the next step of conquering such obstacles. Why you may ask? Simply because it is the easy route. It is the route that requires no work, no heart, no effort, but most importantly, it is the route that requires the upmost level of selﬂessness from any given individual; a treasure that many simply cannot give of themselves. But in the eyes of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, I believe that they truly saw the world and people for what they were, but still desired to make a change amidst the chaos. They aspired to shine a light of hope upon circumstances that seemed so despairing.
Merely a small collection of selﬂess hearts and minds, these honorable men and women created change within their communities that turned into safe havens, where many people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, genders, beliefs, you name it, were able to be touched in some way by the heartfelt devotions of these members. Within these acts of selﬂess devotion to helping better the lives of others above oneself, not only came the aid itself, but newfound friendships, perspective sharing, breaking down chains of insecurities, and unforeseen unity created by the workings of common goodness. The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were people who chose to rise above the noise in order to help those who felt helpless and gave back to those who were in dire need. The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were life changers, world impactors, people who woke up every morning and chose to Work towards something greater than themselves. Their impacts are not only shown within their physical attributions, but also through their emotional and social aspects as well. The power of common goodness sought out after by these members help to change our world in that they create new stories and new perspectives when looking upon the lives of one another. Their devotion allows us the capability of seeing people from beneath the surface, beyond our human instinctive level of judgement, with eyes full of compassion and understanding. Not only did they create a compassionate uniﬁcation, but also a sense of heart driven community, where we aren’t blind to the struggles that our fellow beings face, because we all help to play a role in defeating them; because of the impact of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, it’s true to say that united we stand, divided we fall.