Jim Rudolph

Why I just gave $100 to the Odd Fellows and, if you can, why you should too.

In high school in the late 1960s, I was allowed to leave class a little early so two guys I chose could carry me in my wheelchair upstairs to my next class. Needless to say, I was popular with the football jocks because they wanted to join me ditching class. Was this equal access? The question never really occurred to me. But 20 years later the Americans with Disabilities Act changed everything, including changing my mind about how I get around.

Building a space designed for people of all abilities.

Disabled since birth, I have seen many physical barriers to access. When I grew up, disabled meant constant problem-solving, like how to get upstairs or get into the school bus. Fortunately, with the ADA, the needs of people with disabilities is no longer a battle with obstacles. Universal design, now mandated by law, is a concept that encourages architecture to accommodate everyone, period.

ADA is the law but it is also the right thing to do.

Fast forward another 30 years and my Odd Fellow friends are stepping up to embrace universal design, by adding an elevator and accessible restroom in their building to allow me, and everyone else, access—not as needy or different—but as simple, everyday equal.

JR JEHere I am at elevator construction with architect John Evans

The Odd Fellows Hall is a community treasure.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent evenings at the Odd Fellows Hall listening to music, dancing or attending a lecture. When we asked for donations, you always opened your hearts and wallets to help us with our mission of community service. The pandemic has shut down these events, as well as everyone's socializing in general. The good news is we can come back to a space that is more welcoming to all.

Costs are up. Income is down.

Now the challenges. It is no easy task adding an elevator to an historic building. We're doing a careful renovation to keep the character of the old with the convenience of the new. But at every turn there are new surprises: aging wiring to fix; walls to reinforce; rot to repair. We are not just adding an elevator and accessible bathroom. We are polishing a long-neglected gem.

Then there's the pandemic. As well as the loss of income from our events, we offered our tenant’s rent relief to lessen the financial hardship of Covid. This double whammy means we could really use your help.

There’s a very real chance we’ll need to halt construction if we can’t get a little help from our friends.

With your help we’ll be back even better.

The pandemic will surely fade with time and the Odd Fellows will once again open our doors. With your help, we can welcome that future with a hall that welcomes everyone equally. I hope you will join me in making a donation to the HMB-ODD Foundation. Consider it an investment in a better future.

Take a moment to see photos and learn more about our efforts to modernize and improve our community space.

P.S. Good news. Your donation to the HMB-ODD Foundation is fully deductible according to IRS regulations.

Want to learn more about the disability rights movement and the ADA on it's thirtieth anniversary. Watch an inspiring film produced by Michelle and Barack Obama.

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