Odd Fellows is among the oldest fraternal organizations in the world. It began in England, and came to North America in 1819. Since then it has grown across the United States and around the world, with Lodges in almost every city and town. Odd Fellows came to California with the Gold Rush and has grown along with the State.
The Odd Fellows is sometimes called The Three Link Fraternity, in allusion to its three principal tenants: Friendship, Love, and Truth. Odd Fellows ascribe to certain peculiar duties: Visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan. It is said that embracing these duties individually as members and collectively as Lodges is what gave the Order its name: At the time the Order was founded sometime during the second quarter of the 18th century, you were an odd fellow to assume responsibilities for the sick, distressed, dead and orphaned. This was and is, however, the great civilizing contribution of the Order to society and the communities in which Odd Fellows live or in which Lodges have been instituted.
Marin Lodge No. 200, Independent Order of Odd Fellows was instituted on February 24, 1872, making it the second fraternal organization formed in San Rafael, California. Its original Lodge Hall, built in 1882 was located at Fourth and D Streets, but was destroyed by fire in the 1950's. A new, modern Lodge Hall was built at 1525 Mission Avenue. Marin Lodge No. 200, IOOF's, facilities include a spacious Lodge Room, well equipped club room where members can relax and enjoy billiards, cards, shuffle board, wide-screen television, or log onto the internet. While it is a non-profit organization, Marin Lodge No. 200, IOOF, is proud to be a member of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, continuing its long tradition of being connected to the community it calls home.
Being part of a world wide fraternity, Marin Odd Fellows also enjoy access to all the benefits of Odd Fellowship throughout California and the World. First, Odd Fellowship is a family fraternity. While membership is open to both men and women of majority age (21), there are also Rebekah Lodges for women, Junior Lodges for boys between 10 and 21 years, and Theta Rho Clubs for girls 10-21 years. Members of the family of Odd Fellowship have available to them a number of beautiful recreation areas, including the Three Link Camp in Tuolumne County (it is home to the California Order's camping program for children as well as camping and RV facilities and year round recreation for members), Odd Fellows Sierra Park, Odd Fellows Russian River Park, and the Redding Odd Fellows Camp in Shasta County. Further, members in good standing are free to visit any lodge in any city or community in the United States, Canada, or the twenty-three other nations were IOOF lodges regularly meet.
Consonant with the duties outlined above, California Odd Fellows have established facilities to care for the aged, the widow, and children. The Order maintains a soon to expand geriatric facility in Saratoga which will provide care for over 400 residents in all levels of living including skilled nursing, and an additional 150 independent living apartments for seniors on limited incomes. Additionally, the Order owns the Meadows of Napa Valley that provides for independent living, assisted living and a 69 bed skilled nursing facility. For children, the Order maintains the Odd Fellows-Rebekah Children's Home of California in Gilroy, at which service includes residential treatment and foster care for seriously abused children. These are part of a network of more than 100 homes in North America alone, with 8,000 residents and an annual budget of more than one hundred million dollars.
Marin Lodge No. 200, IOOF, involves itself in many worthwhile community service projects. It and its members also contributes towards the Orders principal charities, which includes the Arthritis Foundation and the Arthritis Society, which is seeking to find a cure for that dreaded disease that causes so much pain and suffering to both the young and old around the world: The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs have raised more than four million in eleven years for Arthritis research. The Order also provides scholarships and low interest loans to deserving college students through a nearly three million dollar Educational Loan Foundation. In all, the Odd Fellows spend some three hundred million dollars annually for relief.
Any man or woman of good character, whose life and acts have been worthy and honorable, who believes in God (Odd Fellowship strictly forbids any interference with one's religious beliefs, either directly or indirectly), and is obedient to the civil laws (Odd Fellowship also forbids interference with an individual's political opinions), may apply for membership. Details about the application process are available from the Marin Lodge No. 200, IOOF: By personal inquiry at our Lodge Hall (the Lodge meets every first Monday of the Month at 8:00 p.m., social hour beginning at 7:00 p.m.); by telephone to (415) 459-5710, where messages will be promptly returned; or by mail to Marin Lodge No. 200, IOOF, P.O. Box 150104, San Rafael, CA 94915.