When Royal Lady Kelly Christman, National President of the Royal Purple paid a visit to Virden a couple of weeks ago, one of her concerns was the declining membership. Virden is on of only four Manitoba lodges now along with Portage, Winnipegosis and Winnipeg. Gladstone has recently taken a break and closed their lodge.
With a mere 1,111 members across Canada, the Royal Purple has seen serious declines in membership.
“Our numbers have gone down dramatically over the years,” says Christman who is one of the youngest members in Alberta. “We’ve watched it. We’ve scratched our heads on how to increase.”
RP is a Canadian non-profit organization, now 104 years old. This non-profit Canadian charity has worked in their communities providing needed services such as catering, and have donated to worthy causes for over a century.
Within the RP organization, the president has traditionally been addressed as Royal Lady, but even the verbiage is under question as members age and this organization seeks to modernize.
Christman describes their purpose saying, “We run by the tag line ‘Your cause is our cause’, so what that means to us is that local lodges have the opportunity to raise money and direct that money where they choose to. We feel that’s a great way to go into the future.”
Recently, RP has struck up a relationship with brain injury awareness in four provinces including Manitoba lodges. Christman says funding supports such needs. “Once you are determined as a brain injury survivor, life doesn’t go back to normal.”
Christman, a member with a lodge near Brooks, Alta. for 15 years was elected as national leader at the AGM in Winnipeg last July.
She’s a tough westerner with a husband whose hobby is team roping. As the organization’s figurehead she makes it a point to visit lodges across Canada to keep the organization connected.
Her mother-in-law’s example led her to join. She says, “Fifteen years ago, I answered my mother-in-law’s request to join. She’s a 90-year old this year, but she’s been a member of our local lodge for 54 years and she has 54 years perfect attendance, I might add.”
She loves the feeling of being needed and appreciated. “That’s what keeps me going.”
In her everyday work life, Christman is an elected official for the County of Newell, the rural area around the city of Brooks, Alta.
“I’m was just elected last October for another four-year term. I’m very fortunate I have a husband who supports me in both my hobby (RP) and my part-time job.”