10/27/2012 7:00 AM
By Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade Special Sections Editor
BUTLER, Pa. — National Grange Pomona Chris Hamp from Washington state said it’s Grange members’ passion, not the organization’s history, that will excite people to join. She’s quick to point out Grange history is important, but it’s personal stories and enthusiasm that will excite people.
“What is important about the Grange is that story as why (the Grange) is important to me and how it could be important to them,” she said.
Hamp was the keynote speaker at last Saturday’s All-Granger Banquet as part of the 140th annual state session of the Pennsylvania State Grange in Butler, Pa.
Serving as the first lady of the Washington State Grange, Hamp is a fourth-generation Granger who was raised on a dairy farm homesteaded by her great-grandfather in Monroe, Wash. She is a member of Tualco Grange #284 and affiliate member of Five Mile Prairie Grange #905. Her husband, Duane, is the Washington state grange master.
Hamp believes that Grange is needed as much in today’s world as it was during its founding in 1867, teaching civics though actions and lessons. She described the four C’s of Grange values — civility, compromise, collaboration and common sense.
“By the time an issue gets to our legislative directors on the hill, those issues are so well thought out,” she said.
Grange policies are nonpartisan and follow a grass-roots process through the local, county, state and national organization.
It is that debate and discussion, having to listen to other points of view and search for a solution that works for the majority that results in policies that have “gone through the test. There is no crying wolf when it’s a Grange policy,” she said. “It comes from the ground up.”
Throughout her keynote speech, Hamp described how others encouraged her and why Grangers need to remain active in their Granges and communities.
“We have to do it with passion, and you have to do it with that look in your eye that this is important,” she said. “We can’t stand still when we loose Granges, Grange halls and Grangers.”
Her family were charter members of Tualco Grange, and she said she can not imagine loosing that hall. “There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears” in the emotional investment of members in that Grange, she said.
Earlier in the day, Pennsylvania State Grange Master Carl Meiss echoed these sentiments in his annual master’s address.
“We as an organization have proven that we can be relevant within our communities,” he said of the 140-year-old state organization. “We have seen how a community with no Grange, after being given the opportunity to learn about our organization, see that relevancy and decide and organize a new Grange.”
Meiss honored Chester Tau of Hayfield Grange of Crawford County as the 2012 Granger of the Year. Tau was recognized for his efforts and service to the Grange at multiple levels, including the local, regional and state levels.
“They have been involved with almost everything imaginable with Grange,” Meiss said before announcing Tau’s name. “I have seen (Tau) at all kinds of functions for Grange across the state.”
A 40-plus-year member of the Grange, Tau has served as a state Grange officer, master of his local Grange and with several key Grange projects.
Tau was nearly speechless during his acceptance, simply saying “thank-you” for the award.
Editor’s note: More news on the 2012 Pennsylvania State Grange Session, can be found on the Pennsylvania Granger, Page AX.