It is absolutely amazing to think that it has already been four years since I started on this journey of being an officer of the Divan of Saladin Shriners. I have had the honor of meeting so many incredible people during this time, and I’m looking forward to meeting even more this year. I am completely humbled to have been elected to serve as Potentate this year, and at the same time, I am very excited for the year ahead! The momentum right now is incredible. Our gatherings are full of smiling Shriners and their significant others. Our events keep on stepping up in quality and value. Our membership is upbeat and positive. Great things are happening in Saladin and it’s all because of the decisions our nobles have made to reinvest their time and energy into the Temple.
All of that being said, this year is packed full of fun events. In just a few short weeks, our annual Saladin Valentine’s Dinner will be held on the 4th floor of the Grand Rapids Masonic Temple. This year’s theme is “A Trip around the World.” We will be preparing a full 7-course wine-paired dinner this year with signature dishes from different parts of the globe. Michael Smith, Grand Rapids’ best sommelier, has once again carefully paired each course with an incredible wine. He will be with us again to talk through each pairing. Tickets are only $45 per person. Last year’s event sold out quickly, so please be sure to get your tickets now.
We will continue to bring you the First Friday Happy Hour events on the 6th floor of the Grand Rapids Masonic Temple on nearly every first Friday of the month. However, in light of the strategic plan and our dedication to hosting some events outside of Grand Rapids, we will be taking the show on the road at least twice this year. We plan to have a happy hour in the southwest and the northern parts of our jurisdiction at some point this year. Saladin Chief Aide, Ryan Hardy, will be reaching out to Shrine Clubs in those areas to set up the events. We want to make sure everyone is involved, so we will be adding two happy hours, not simply moving the ones in Grand Rapids. Please make sure to make it out to a happy hour event in your area!
We will again commit to serving a nice lunch before each Stated Meeting this year. We found that our membership really enjoyed being able to sit down with each other and do some catching up before we did the work of the Temple. We hope that you come to as many of our Stated Meetings as possible. After all, your voice is important, and we want you to be involved.
The Divan Ladies have planned a great year for Ladies’ events, too. Led by Lyn Jones and Carol Kramer, the Divan Ladies welcome your lady to all of this year’s functions. More information will be coming out regarding each event, but know that it’s going to be a great year.
We will be going back to two ceremonials this year. We’ve had lots of great Masons join our ranks over the past year, and many of them have yet to cross the hot sands of the desert! We are looking forward to welcoming them through the second section.
There are numerous other events planned for the year, too, but the focus cannot always be only on fun and membership. The major reason for our organization is helping kids. You will find that at each major function Saladin holds this year, there will be a focused gift to one of the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Rick Williams, our Recorder, has been working with the hospitals to identify projects for us to support. It should bring great happiness to you to know that you are a key member of one of the greatest philanthropies in the entire world. It is our honor to help our hospitals help our kids in any way possible.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has helped get us all to this point. There are amazing things ahead for Saladin, and with your support, the momentum will continue.
If there is anything that I, or any of your Divan officers, can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask. We appreciate you and the work you have put into the Shrine.
Jonathan L. Duley