As my wife and I continue to build a new circle of friends here on the island, we were pointed towards checking out a place called “Independent Order of Odd Fellows”, or “I.O.O.F.”, or simply “Odd Fellows” just over a year ago. And if you’re like us, you’ve probably never heard of Odd Fellows before, or at least wondered what goes on inside if you’ve seen the building’s signage on the 1300 block of Douglas Street. And yes, before we even set foot in the building, we heard some rumblings of a “cult-like” environment, which we immediately ignored because we liked the core values of what the group of Odd Fellows stood for.
In fact our first invitation to meet a few from the group was to help hand out hampers of fresh food to the Mustard Seed, just in time for Christmas holidays–Food that we later learned (a year later) was humbly organized by the Odd Fellows’ food drive called “A Tonne of Love“, in partnership with Country Grocer since 2010. In 2017 alone, the Tonne of Love initiative raised over $20,000 worth of fresh food for Victoria’s families in need–Needless to say, my wife and I were moved and did what it took to join the generous and thoughtful community.
Initiation stories aside, we have now been official Odd Fellows now for almost a year now and have given our time in many ways to various charities around the city.
Last night, as the Odd Fellows volunteer photographer, I captured one of the Odd Fellows’ biggest fundraisers of the year, “Robert Burns Night” (more photos here). The night was fuelled by a delicious prime rib dinner, haggis, bag pipers, highland dancers, silent auction, scotch tasting and a kilted DJ who helped everyone boogie the rest of the night away. And the proceeds from the night went to help support a friend of Odd Fellows (in his 30’s) who recently suffered a stroke and is currently fighting his way back to recovery.
In short, our hearts are fuller since joining the charitable group, and while we’ve been at it, we’ve made a few good friends along the way.
Click here if you want to learn more about the Odd Fellows history, which by the way, dates back to the 1700’s in England, and now enrols some 600,000 members, divided in approximately 10,000 lodges in 26 countries around the world.