Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Royal Entry into Autumn

The Royal Arcanum has been raising its profile again as the summer has turned into autumn. It will be a whirlwind to try and cover all the news from the last several weeks, but it's exciting to be involved in so many activities!

New Jersey and the Felician Sisters

At the end of August, the Grand Council of New Jersey invited me to visit their jurisdiction. While I was there, I was able to join members on a visit to the retirement home of the Felician Sisters. Our members were welcomed there as old friends, as they regularly visit and help out where there's a need. We sang along with the sisters in the nursing wing, and sponsored a bingo game featuring donuts from their favorite bakery. Hugs and smiles sent us on our way, with lots of happy memories.

American Fraternal Alliance Meeting / Fraternalist of the Year

Just two weeks later, I attended the AFA meeting in Indianapolis, where once again the Royal Arcanum was in the spotlight. Evelyn Magarban, from Versitility Council in New Jersey, was chosen as the ARA Fraternalist of the year! Evelyn's giving nature is beautifully highlighted in a video that was shown at the conference, and is available for your viewing on our web site. Congratulations, Evelyn!

Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Massachusetts Visits

October featured three more jurisdictional visits. First stop was in Philadelphia, where beautiful weather and cheerful members greeted us. We were able to join them in their charitable work, helping to feed the homeless. It was a moving experience, and a joyfully one, especially in the warm parting goodbyes from our dinner guests as we left that evening. The next weekend saw us in Michigan, just a few miles from the Michigan / Michigan State game, as members gathered for my visit and to help collect food and funds for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Our members provided a tableful of non-perishable items and a generous donation to the representatives who attended. The following weekend, we spent a half day at the Home Office in downtown Boston, where the staff had just completed a collection of over 140 hats and mittens for Cradles to Crayons. The next day the Grand Council of Massachusetts held a brunch for my visit, and collected for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a camp for children with medical needs who couldn't attend other camps. Just for good measure, they threw in a donation for the Veterans.

Notice the trend? This is what makes the Royal Arcanum special. Yes, we have competitive rates for life insurance. Yes, we have wonderful annuity products. And yes, we have great benefits for our members. But it is our members giving to others that is our proudest attribute. This is why our members from coast to coast win the AFA Fraternalist of the Year Award, and why I'm confident that our organization will continue to be strong and grow.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Highlights from Colonial Williamsburg

Our mini-vacation in Colonial Williamsburg is over, and summer is coming to a close for the schoolchildren. If you were lucky enough to join us on our trip, you know how much we all enjoyed each other’s company while we explored our history as a British Colony. About 100 Arcanians gathered in Virginia to enjoy just a bit of summer with each other. The weather was pretty good — it rained one morning, but most of the trip was bright sunshine.
The Royal Arcanum always strives to find a family friendly, reasonably priced location for our mini vacations, and this year was an excellent choice. Our hotel was just steps from the Williamsburg Visitor Center, where a bus ride (complementary for our guests) provided easy access to the shops, restaurants, and reenactments in Colonial Williamsburg. The same bus also provided transportation to the modern-day town of Williamsburg and their wonderful selection of stores and restaurants, as well as the museums and antique sections of town.
Back at the hotel, we gathered for the welcoming registration; a welcoming dinner; a short program presentation with awards and drawings by me, your Supreme Regent, during our rainy morning; a popular game night; a morning baby shower breakfast; and ending with our final evening patriotic costume dinner.
A highlight, as always, was our local charity guests. This year we invited Catholic Charities, who collected our members’ generous donations for needy mothers in the Eastern Virginia area. We also held a split the pot raffle with two winners, collecting funds for Don Ferry, Jr.’s participation in the Jimmy Walk Fund that raises money to find a cure for cancer.
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We introduced our new mascot, Roy Al Arcanum, a traveling bear who is already making his way across the continent spreading the news of our great organization (and with overseas plans in the works). We’re asking all jurisdictions to share Roy with their members as they travel, and post the pictures online or with the Home Office. On Facebook, post the pictures to our wall or your own page, and tag him with the hashtag #WhereIsRoyNow. Roy also has his own email address at email pictures of him there if you don’t have a Facebook account. We’ll be selecting winners for the favorite pictures throughout the year.
We have a contest now: Visit our Facebook page and browse the pictures in the Roy in Williamsburg album. Like all your favorite pictures, and we’ll give out prizes to the photographers of the chosen favorite pictures.
If you missed the mini-vacation, you missed a lot! We’ll try to keep you up to date here, and hope to see you at our next gathering.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Privilege of Giving

After a full day's work on Friday, my wife and I boarded a plane for San Jose, California, so that we'd be available on Saturday to help cook lunch and dinner for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. We landed around 10:30 PM, and arrived at the hotel around an hour later (or around 1:30 AM from our Central time zone). By 8:30 AM, we were prepped and headed out to Palo Alto for our full day of work of helping to prepare lunch for 50 and dinner for 70.

Ronald McDonald House is a non-profit that provides housing for families of children that have acute medical needs. We talked with parents of toddlers or babies whose child received a heart transplant, kidney transplant, and other equally serious illness. These families have had their lives turned upside down as they work to save the life of their precious child and still care for their other children, their spouse, and themselves. Ronald McDonald House provides housing for them -- when available -- for $10 a day. Families may have to quit their jobs to provide the time needed to care for their child's needs. It was great to have the chance to provide them a fresh-cooked meal, joining the California Grand Council members who provided all the food, prepared and served it to families that are trying to gain a sense of normalcy in lives that have been turned upside down.

Twelve hours, including travel, were all that today cost us. The council spent a few hundred dollars and gave many more hours in preparation and work that day. Not one member was sorry they were there. Not one family failed to share their gratitude to us.

Such is the privilege of giving: it truly is in giving that we receive, and this weekend we were blest deeply. How much more, I wonder, could we do: there is still so much need! I am reminded of the nature of love: it is something that cannot be exhausted. Try it: try to give away your love to the point of depletion. It isn't possible! The more you give, the more you find you cannot give it away and empty yourself of it. I've been blest to be invited into a group of people who find giving a necessary, lifegiving activity.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Explaining Fraternalism

I'm often asked to explain fraternalism, or what a fraternal society is. The dictionary definitions aren't always useful. One defines fraternalism as "the condition of having fraternal qualities." Another dictionary gives a better explanation: "The character of being fraternal; specifically, the cultivation and safeguarding of that fraternity, or brotherhood of an entire people, demanded by the French revolutionists." French Revolutionists? Where did that come from? Let's try the Oxford dictionary, which directs us to define fraternal as: "Of or denoting an organization or order for people, especially men, that have common interests or beliefs." There are other definitions, which specifically tie the word fraternal as "of or befitting a brother or brothers; brotherly." Another points us into another direction: "designating either or both of a pair of twins of the same or opposite sex that developed from two separate fertilized ova."

I can see why we're asked to explain things so often! Certainly there's a connection to all the definitions, but it can be hard to find how they weave together. A clearer understanding of the Royal Arcanum as a Family Fraternity can be derived from the above and combined into an easier to understand concept: We are an organization with a common bond that strives to help safeguard our society as we loyally and devotedly work to benefit each other and those around us. This combination of the various dictionary definitions may be a better way to understand what drives us to work toward the hallmarks of any fraternal society: enrolling its members in protection products, such as life insurance, which safeguards both the society and its members, and participating in charitable activities, to benefit those in need around us.

This past week, the American Fraternal Alliance gathered in Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and help raise the awareness of the difference that fraternal societies such as the Royal Arcanum make. Their web site points out that each year, members of fraternal benefit societies invest more than 92.5 million hours in community works and contribute more than $414 million to charitable programs! That's not a bad explanation of fraternalism either, is it?

But what's most important to me is their identification that it is not the fraternal societies that donate this time or this money, but its members. The Royal Arcanum is not unique, but is a wonderful example of how our members give their time and their treasure to help benefit their community. Sometimes it's through a sponsored program, organized by one of our councils, to reach out to a need that resonates with their members. Many times it is just our members helping friends who ask for help in their efforts. In one small example of this, my wife and I were asked to help at the check-in and check-out booths for a small charitable organization, Harmony, Hope, & Healing, that was holding a fund-raising luncheon and auction to raise much needed funds so they could help in their mission to provide creative, therapeutic, and educational music programs offering emotional and spiritual support to homeless and under-served women, children and men in the Chicago area. This wasn't a Royal Arcanum sponsored event, we were just two people of many who helped out a good cause. It's a scene repeated over and over by our members, quietly giving of their time. It is this spirit of giving that draws me into the Royal Arcanum, and the countless acts of kindness I've witnessed that leads me share a small part of the giving they embody.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Royal Gift - Our History

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'm traveling to our Grand Councils throughout North America and introducing my program, A Royal Gift. While I can't replicate a presentation here, I can share the essence of my message in a series here, to serve as a reminder to those I've been lucky enough to meet, and as an overview to those who have not been able to attend my visits. For members and friends of members who may see these posts shared (and please do share this if you find it interesting), reading this series is an excellent way to learn about the Royal Arcanum.

So what is the Royal Arcanum? We are a family fraternal organization, founded in 1877 to provide for widows and orphans of our members. That's a long time ago, just a dozen years after the end of the American Civil War. The war killed over 2% of the population, and created an estimated 200,000 widows and 500,000 orphans. The Royal Arcanum was founded to help guard against the financial ruin of its members, and we continue today to strive to fulfill that same goal. Our constitution outlines six major objectives in our founding: to form a fraternal union of people with good moral character, provide moral and material aid to its members, educate members and assist widows and orphans, provide a benefits fund for the old in age or disabled or beneficiaries of the deceased, support charitable institutions, and provide for the protection of junior members.

Now, more than 137 years later, we continue to honor those objectives. With over a quarter of a billion dollars of in-force insurance - billion with a "B" - we are a very established, financially strong insurance choice for you and your family. And as a non-profit fraternal organization, we take our charitable giving very seriously. We have a growing list of Royal Arcanum members named as winners or runners up to the American Fraternal Alliance Fraternalist of the Year winners, including the 2014 winner, and a constant stream of reports of our members giving their time and resources to those in need, as is constantly chronicled in our seasonal Bulletin. We strongly believe in giving to those in need and in caring for our members; and our insurance and annuity offerings help us to continue to meet our founding objective. It truly is A Royal Gift the Royal Arcanum has become!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter / Happy Passover / Joyeuses Pâques!

Happy Easter and Happy Passover, everyone! I hope that everyone is having an enjoyable, blessed holiday weekend. These celebrations couldn't come at a better time, when the grips of a harsh winter, especially in the northeast, are beginning to loosen. Spring is really, finally here, and even though there are still lingering threats of winter weather, we're ready for the new beginnings that the season heralds. And if we're lucky, a change in weather may come, too, to the west coast and bring some much needed rain to the parched land.

For those of us who have been cooped up for the winter months, it's time to move, get out, and get active. I'm excited to know that I'll be visiting our members soon outside of my home jurisdiction. Don't forget to check my calendar, posted here to show what weekends I have available through the end of the year. If I haven't been to your jurisdiction yet, know I can't wait to get out there! And if I've already been there, I'd love to return and help out in your charitable events.

What else is new? I'm excited about our new 15/15/15/15 Program! This program is designed to help us grow the Royal Arcanum by bringing in the next generation. We've listed 15 reasons to sign up 15 juniors in your council over the next 15 months. If you do, you'll earn 15 hundred dollars for your council! Everybody wins! Time to start talking up our great protection products and increase your membership.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Welcome from the Supreme Regent

Hello, everyone! My name is Carl Krzystofczyk, and I was elected as Supreme Regent in August 2014 to lead our organization through our next election in the summer of 2016. I'm excited to begin my first blog entry as a new way to directly interact with our members and prospective members. You'll be hearing a lot from me over the next 18 months, and I hope that this is a way we can stay in contact with each other.

My first seven months as Supreme Regent have been been a wonderful experience of visiting some of our jurisdictions throughout North America. I've been able to present my program to Québec, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Illinois, Ontario, Florida, Ohio, and New York. That's only about half of our active jurisdictions, and I'm looking forward to getting to visit everywhere else. It is a humbling and inspirational experience to travel to new places and be greeted as a welcome friend in every instance.

At each place I've been, the message of the Royal Arcanum is strong: our founding principles of Virtue, Mercy, and Charity are strong in our members. I've been traveling and introducing my program, A Royal Gift, which highlights the gift our members offer in becoming members and in giving back to the community we live in. I'll be explaining more about our wonderful society as time goes on, but I thought some of you might want to know my background.

I joined the Royal Arcanum in 1988 as I married into a 100% Royal Arcanum family. As I approached my marriage, I asked my soon to be in-laws, Nick and Ann Shargo, if I could call them "Dad" and "Mom". Nick said, "Not until you first call me brother," and he began to share with me the wonderful world of the Royal Arcanum. I happily joined and became active right away.

The story is important for a few reasons. First, it highlights the best way we can grow our society: through earnest, personal recommendations. The Shargo family was very involved, and urged me to not only become a member but to become active in my council and move up in the organization. This is a great model for us all, to invite our families and friends to be part of the great fraternal family that provides protection in our need and incredible caring and charitable acts in our communities.

The second part of my story is another ringing endorsement of the Royal Arcanum. Sadly, my marriage to Nick and Ann's daughter Jan did not last long: one warm summer night after an enjoyable family party, she experienced a brain aneurysm. She was in rehab a few weeks later, and while her parents were on their way to a Royal Arcanum mini vacation, she suddenly passed away, just shy of our our 3rd anniversary. It was the family of the Royal Arcanum who were there to comfort Nick and Ann as they arrived to the news of Jan's passing, providing support while they were away from home. And it was the Royal Arcanum policies that were the only insurance Jan had in force, as she had just started a new job and did not have any other coverage.

This is what the Royal Arcanum is about: caring people, and an organization to provide for those in need. They were there in my time of need, and I want to make sure that we are there for all our members, now and for years to come. My first three years of membership introduced me to all that our society offers, and helped me to weather the storm as my life moved on. I've grown and flourished since then, and I've always remained an active part of the Royal Arcanum. My wife, Christine, and our son Geoff are both proud members of the Royal Arcanum.

I share my story so you know my involvement with our great society is very sincere, and very real. I've experienced the true gifts we offer, the welcoming of our fraternal family, the protection against painful loss, and the joyous giving of our charitable acts. I'm proud to be able to help lead us all toward a reawakening of the importance the Royal Arcanum has in our lives, and in the lives of those who will soon join us. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your proud history!