El Riad Shrine has a lot of moving parts in its machinery that must stay well-aligned and well-maintained to keep the whole operation running smoothly. There are many contributors to that process that typically stand out and are easily recognized, such as the Divan, the units and clubs, and the contributions of the Shrine ladies. But, there are also many folks who work hard behind the scenes and who don’t get much recognition for doing what they do. But, without these people doing what they do, we would not be what we are today. So, here’s a look at some of those who stand out but stand back from the limelight.
Let’s start with the Shrine office staff, who manage the business portions of the temple. They are Joel Baker, Gail Gustafson, Bruce Wallin PP, and Kent Quail. Joel does a fantastic job at keeping our 94-year old building in such great condition. The pride we have in our building is due in large part to Joel’s efforts. Also, he works hard to solicit and book rental events that keep our temple busy, and he ably advises and assists the units and clubs with their functions. Gail is the first face folks see at the front door, and she is a great ambassador for the Shrine. While Gail performs many office tasks and assists both Kent and Bruce, her primary responsibility is as our patient coordinator. As the coordinator, she is our point of contact for SHC – Twin Cities and SHC – Chicago. Gail gets the appointment information for a patient, schedules a trip to take that child to the Twin Cities or to the airport in Omaha, NE and works with the Roadrunners to find drivers for the trip. Without Gail, the wheels of the vans wouldn’t roll. Kent is the jack-of-all-trades in the office. Among other things, he assists the units and clubs with administrative matters; manages the cash calendar program; manages the Web Fez membership registry; edits the Unit & Club Handbook; and assists with the organization of the stated meeting, annual meeting and installation, ceremonials, and the circus. Bruce is our resident expert in keeping the dollars straight between the many temple and unit accounts that compose a very complicated accounting system involving both fraternal and charitable funds. Bruce also manages our insurance, liquor licensing and vehicle licensing programs. Bruce also provides excellent guidance to the Divan on many subjects, with his sage advice a result of the wide-ranging set of experiences due to his advanced years (not age) in the Shrine.
Another set of folks that often go underappreciated are the Potentate’s Aides. Whenever there’s a temple event…a Ceremonial, stated meeting, Installation, Pote’s Party, MSA winter or summer session, All-Shrine parade, or an oasis of any sort…the Potentate’s Aides are there to provide great service to all those in attendance. Much of their time is spent in planning, packing, loading, unloading, serving, on their feet, cleaning up, stacking chairs, hauling garbage and whatever else it takes to keep our nobles and ladies happy and supplied. They work hard, in weather both cold and hot, to make any event an enjoyable one for the nobility.
Finally, I want to highlight one other group that goes unnoticed but contributes so much to El Riad. I saw this group in action at the recent MSA Winter Session business meeting in Aberdeen. The group of which I speak are the 16 nobles who attended not as Divan officials but as representatives of the circus, membership, stop burns, hospital reps, marketing and communications, and Shrine associations. These men are Shrine leaders. Just like the unit and club leaders, their roles are so important in the success of El Riad. Their presence at winter session contributed greatly to our standing among the MSA temples.
I would encourage nobles to take the time to thank these great people for what they do for El Riad. What they do every day may not be as colorful as what’s on parade, but their work behind the scenes is what allows the rest of us to look great on parade.
John Whitelock, Potentate
El Riad Shriners