Since I started writing this column for the Cactus, I have been highlighting individuals and groups that make a difference at El Riad. That trend continues this month because people are our most valued asset.

Likely the most visible groups of volunteers in our fraternity are the Circus Committee, headed by Chairman Aaron Neiman and Asst. Chairman Larry Johnson, and the entire group of hundreds of volunteers that tirelessly work our Shrine Circus every year. The Circus Committee is a dedicated and committed group of regulars who have turned the production of the circus into a science, and into a model for other Shrine temples to copy. Many of our Circus Committee volunteers have been in the group for years and know how to get things done. And, while other Shrine temples have circus committees, most do not have the level of volunteerism at their shows like we have, with over 200 nobles, ladies and family members helping at every show. Some Shrine temples pay the producer to do everything and then wait for a check at the end. Other temples hire help for the circus. I guess that in a sense our circus volunteers get paid as well, but not in the way one might expect. Our payment comes in the form of…getting to see a Shrine friend at the circus that you only see once a year…working side-by-side with the members of the unit and having fun doing so…watching 40,000 visitors come to an event that you helped make a success….and, seeing smiles and joy on the faces of countless kids that are happy because of what do as Shriners in our community. These are the forms of payment that make us what we are.

Our Membership Committee, headed by John Archer PP and Charles Brown PP and backed by an outstanding cadre of committee members, is another group of dedicated Shriners who are committed to growing El Riad. They do so with a passion that is second to none. Bringing in new nobles has become harder over the years as generations and priorities change. Yet, these guys charge forward and continue to develop new ideas that just might make a difference with today’s challenges of recruiting and retaining nobles.

Another group largely unknown to the majority of Shriners but which is so critical to our success is the Building & Entertainment Committee, chaired by Chief Rabban Al Zahn. This group is composed of Divan members, nobles-at-large and the operations manager. Their primary role is oversight of the management and maintenance of our building, which is a historical jewel in Sioux Falls and unique among the hundreds of Shrine temples. Known simply as the “B&E,” the group is in charge of directing the maintenance and repair of the building; management of our liquor license; planning future improvements; establishing facility policy; and overseeing the daily operation of the building as both our Shrine and as an events center. The membership of the group includes professionals in the building trades that so capably advise us regarding repairs and projects. The condition of our building is directly attributed to the great work of the B&E Committee and Operations Manager Joel Baker.

A sincere thanks to those that serve on these groups. Your contributions are priceless. More to come next month about more great people.


John Whitelock, Potentate

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