‘Tis the season of giving! In this Q&A with J.B. Covert Lodge Secretary and Past Master David Olmstead, part one of three, we share his lodge’s notable charity efforts in hopes to inspire other Ohio lodges as they continue to plan for the new year.
While we’re here to talk about J.B. Covert Lodge, could you please share a little bit about who you are and how you got into Freemasonry?
I grew up in Masonry as my parents were very active in all the Masonic bodies you can name. Throughout my upbringing, I observed the true meanings of providing Brotherly Love and Relief through the actions of my parents and those around them. I spent many hours as a kid helping my dad when he was Secretary of Phoenix Lodge #123 prepare dues, cards, and other mailings. I was also a member of the Fallen Timbers Chapter Order of DeMolay. Today, I am an endowed member in both Phoenix Lodge and J. B. Covert Lodge #437, where I am a Past Master and currently Secretary.
Tell us about J.B. Covert Lodge.
J. B. Covert Lodge is in Union Township, Clermont County, Ohio. It currently has 238 members and is also blessed with a group of core members who work hard to keep things going and truly enjoy each other’s company in Masonry and in life outside the lodge. Union Township is on the east side of Cincinnati and we are one of the 19 lodges in the 6th Masonic District. The lodge was chartered in October of 1870, and we just had the reconsecration of our lodge room on September 26th, 2020 marking our 150th Anniversary.
What charity events or fundraisers did you run through 2020? Could you share some details about these initiatives?
We just recently wrapped up a food drive that was the result of our dining room remodeling project. We used to have a three-tiered pie shelf in the dining room, which was known as “Covert’s Cupboard” and each month we would fill it with food donations. These items would be delivered to Interparish Ministries for distribution to area food banks and directly to families in need. When COVID-19 started, since we couldn’t meet in person, we launched a remodeling project. In the process, we did away with “Covert’s Cupboard”. In October, we distributed a shopping list of groceries to all who were volunteering, along with those who receive our email newsletter and asked them to bring the supplies to the November Stated Meeting. We ended up taking 416 pounds of groceries to Interparish Ministries, and while it was not our biggest donation, we didn’t want to forego providing relief during the Thanksgiving Holiday.
We just completed a very successful Toy Drive on Saturday, December 12th. Lodge members and friends brought new, unwrapped toys to the lodge for us to deliver to Interparish Ministries. We are looking forward to seeing the final results from this initiative.
The Kyle Adkins Memorial Scholarship Fund is administered by J. B. Covert Lodge and its namesake was a 30-year-old Past Master who was a vibrant Mason, math teacher, and Assistant Band Director at local high schools. Band students at both schools he taught at are eligible for this annual scholarship. The main challenge with running a scholarship program is that they often require a significant fundraiser each year. While we appreciate the hard work and donations from our lodge members, it’s important to reach a wider audience within the community to also help donate annually. While our main goal is to create a large nest egg for this program which we can continuously pull from, our current fundraiser gets the community directly involved by leveraging our relationship with both schools’ bands.
The event is Flapjack Frenzy! Suffice to say this is NOT your grandfather’s pancake breakfast at the lodge! This event stemmed from a joint effort with another local chapter, where we partnered with local firemen and police officers. We saw that we weren’t reaching the right audience for the scholarship, so a year and a half later we expanded the event to partner with local schools and have been seeing tremendous success. Regarding this year’s Flapjack Frenzy, we were really hamstrung by COVID-19 protocols outside of our control, but we did develop a virtual workaround for 2020. Instead of the regular head-to-head pancake cook off, it was a head-to-head Riff-Off with each band director submitting a video of themselves playing their favorite instrument. One of our members created the promotional video for the event and developed the Riff-Off video, which was deployed over social media. We determined the winner by the number of comments and likes from each school.
J.B. Covert Lodge Garden
We were also the recipient of an Eagle Scout project a couple of years ago when a young Scout built us an enclosed raised garden. One of our Brothers has been actively maintaining this garden and growing plants from seeds in his apartment for the last couple of years. The produce from the garden has been shared with area food pantries and members of the lodge. We plan to enhance the garden further through another Eagle Scout Project later in 2021.
In what way do these charity events reflect Masonic values and the values of the J.B. Covert Lodge?
The membership of J. B. Covert lodge takes great pride in the quiet application of the basic principles of providing Brotherly Love and Relief. We have members who apply their vocation in the direct assistance of members. From repairing an HVAC system in a member’s home or helping with home improvements to providing business-related services, they do these things without fanfare or recognition, other than the internal acknowledgment from Brother to Brother.
Why are these charity efforts so important to Freemasonry?
Charity can be more important to the individual than the organization. The act of donating often provides a powerful personal impact. The realization that the world is larger than themselves and their ability to impact it by making a donation of Time-Talent-Treasure can be life changing. Once an individual begins to develop the habit of giving, the level of giving tends to increase over time.
Ohio Brethren, do you have inspiring local charity initiatives within your lodge that you’d like to share with us? Please message us at @GrandLodgeOhio on Facebook or Twitter.
Interested in more local charity content? Jim Easterling of National Lodge #568 describes the fundraiser his Lodge puts on during their town’s annual Mum Fest.