The Friendly Fifth

Vice President Messages

Fra SofN D5 Vice President - Cheryl Wille-Schlesser

God dag, alle sammen (Good day, everyone),

You are receiving this message because you serve your local Sons of Norway Lodge in a position of leadership, specifically for membership. Some individuals may be local presidents, vice presidents, or membership chairs. Numerous people are sharing email addresses, so please forward my communications to the person at your residence or in your family who serves in this capacity.

Recently, the District 5 Board of Directors made some reorganizational changes in its leadership positions. I want to share that I will now be assuming the position vacated by past Vice President Kathy Secora.

It is my goal to share with you monthly communication that you should find helpful in working with your lodges. About me: My name is Cheryl Wille-Schlesser, and I am a retired educator with over 30 -12- years of experience. I have been a Sons of Norway member for 21 years, initially joining a lodge to learn more about my maternal great grandparents and their story of relocating to Wisconsin.

I have served Vennelag Lodge in Mt. Horeb, WI in a variety of offices and chairmanships, the last six years as its president. During that time, I helped to build the membership of that lodge to where it is today at 165 members. Currently, I serve as Lodge Counselor and am the editor of our newsletter, The Vennelag News.

Our lodge will be hosting Dana Kelly, Executive Director from the Norwegian American Genealogical Center in Madison, WI in September. If you would like to join us, simply make me aware, and I will send a link for this virtual presentation.

I am beginning my seventh year on the District 5 Board of Directors. While on the Board, I served as the director of our heritage camp, Masse Moro for two terms. I have also served as the District’s Sports and Recreation Director for two years. The Barnebirkie was my responsibility. Now, my focus turns to membership, as we battle COVID-19 together and look forward to keeping our lodges vibrant and growing.

I want you to know that I have been working with new on-line registrants who are currently placed in the Spirit of the New Century Lodge. My goal is to contact these new members and help them to locate a lodge close to their home where they can share the Nordic lifestyle and traditions of their ancestors with other likeminded individuals. Should a new member wish to join your lodge, you will serve as my contact person.

Last Saturday, International Vice President Mark Agerter conducted a meeting for District Vice Presidents from across the Order. He shared a document that I believe you will find helpful when speaking to your members or when hosting a membership event. I have also shared this document with the Zone Directors assigned to your lodges.

I have been posting membership ideas in the Friendly Fifth Friday News. Please take a moment to read that member newsletter each week, as it provides updates on a variety of topics. If there is something that I can help your lodge to address, please do not hesitate to contact me using the information provided below.

Tusen takk, Cheryl

Fra SofN D5 Vice President - Cheryl Wille-Schlesser

By now most lodges have received a letter from me providing its leadership with some helpful membership information for the next biennium. I have received some bounce-back e-mails and am working to resolve those issues.

I have received some membership information that might be help locals to understand the difference in the cost of the memberships for our members who elect to register on-line or who opt for membership and placement in the Central Lodge.

Thank you,
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
D5 Vice President

Enrolling new District 5 members…

It is now a speedy process to enroll new members to your lodge by using a virtual option such as your laptop, tablet, or phone. To ensure that the new member is placed in your lodge, please provide the name of the lodge. Without this indication, new members are placed in the Spirit of the New Century Lodge. They remain here, unless a request is made for their transfer.

I have been working with newly enrolled members and have sent communications to them about making a transfer to a local lodge. I have found that some of the members are unaware of their placement. Lodge membership chairs question where their new members are!

After one year’s time, the Spirit of the New Century Lodge members are moved into to the Central Lodge, where perks are limited, as are social interactions and lodge involvement. Please give care to any new members you may be enrolling to ensure their proper placement.

Thank you, Cheryl

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF MEMBERS Elaine Nelson, International Treasurer

   This week I had a wonderful conversation with Elaine Nelson who serves as the International Treasurer for the Sons of Norway. Prior to holding this position, Elaine held many other offices at varying levels of the Order.
   One of the things that she is most known for is her uncanny ability to recruit new members. She is a member of Kringen Lodge in Fargo, ND where she has added hundreds of people to their membership rolls!
   Our membership goals for 2020 are to retain our membership numbers and to expand on that total by attracting new members. Is there someone in your family who would appreciate a membership?
If you are a proud Norwegian and want to share the wonderful benefits that our organization offers, consider using this approach:
          1) Always carry the ability to register new members with you. That may take the form of a hard copy flyer, your cell phone, or a tablet. With our now secure browser in place, on-line applications are easily processed.
          2) Keep a folder in your car with materials on cultural skills, scholarships, and member benefits. Include a Viking magazine.
          3) Be sure to speak to people of all age demographics about the Sons of Norway. How does your lodge meet the needs of varying demographics? What should be added?
          4) Publicize your local events in multiple places and formats.
          5) Tell our story. It is okay to brag a little bit; we have much to offer.
          6) Provide the background information of our founding. We are a fraternal organization and proud of it. We have stood the test of time, and we will be there to help our families through their life moments.
        7) Give people reasons to join the Sons of Norway.
  • Tout the Foundation scholarship program for youth and adult learners.
  • Share information about the Helping Hands to Members grants.
  • Refer to Viking magazine and its award-winning content.
  • Provide a card to visitors with a schedule of your lodge’s programming.
  • Speak about the wonderful things you offer at your lodge’s meetings.
  • Explain how your lodge has become a proud community partner and share some of the projects you have helped to fund.
  • Provide table tents for your meeting tables that provide information about upcoming events for your members.
  • Make certain your lodge’s newsletter is entertaining and engaging.
  • Keep your virtual presence up to date.
  • Consider gifting a membership at one of your upcoming events.
  • Fund Norwegian heritage camp experiences for youth.
  • Organize a Barnelopet ski event for children or offer another activity.
  • Hold a Norwegian Baking Workshop.
  • Provide space for an artisan to offer classes of interest to your members.
  • Direct your members to the Sons of Norway website where a plethora of material is available to them from language classes to cooking. The Sons of Norway Blog has current news from Norway.
More than ever, this component of membership should not be forgotten. There could be valid reasons why a member has not renewed their membership. Engage them in a conversation to find out why they are choosing to leave. Ask whether you can be of assistance. Sometimes, busy schedules interfere with one’s renewal and they simply forget.
  • Keep contact with your members young and old. Send a postcard, place a call, deliver flowers, or offer a basket of garden produce.
  • Organize some virtual activities for your members. When safe, ask a younger member to help install software on a veteran member’s computer. Grandchildren are perfect for this task.
  • Ask your members to join District 5 for the Nordic News program organized each Tuesday evening by District Treasurer Mike Palecek, It begins at 6: 20 PM. Programs are informative and entertaining. A note is sent about this each week.
  • It never too early to begin thinking of 2021! Ask your lodge’s membership committee to plan an engaging membership recruitment dinner. The Financial side of the Sons of Norway helps to fund this kind of event.
  • When you receive your lodge’s Monthly Activity report, contact those members whose dues are past due. Do not ignore them or leave their membership to chance
  • Plan a fall outing for your lodge by car. If there are places to stop with a Norwegian bent, socially distance your members and enjoy the destination.
  • If you want to make this outing into a Scavenger Hunt, plan out the list of items to locate ahead of time. Photographs are optional. Provide a prize for the winners. Publish the winners’ photos in your next lodge newsletter.
  • Make a list of suggested Norwegian movies that your members can watch at their leisure.
If I can provide more information to your lodge, please contact me.
Tusen takk,

Fra SofN D5 Vice President - Cheryl Wille-Schlesser


District 5 Membership Numbers through June 2020 from Doris Kamstra at Sons of Norway in Minneapolis

Local lodge leaders, please find the status of your lodge on the listing that follows. Although many of our events which attract new members have been squelched this year, please know that your acquaintances, friends, and relatives serve as first lines to membership recruitment!

If your family has realized a new birth, this child will automatically be enrolled in the Sons of Norway when a family member purchases a Sons of Norway product. The Viking Voyager policy and a selection of a whole life policies are available at varying levels of investment.

Most zones have a financial benefits counselor who can assist members in selecting the product that is appropriate. Some state exceptions apply. You can learn who your financial benefits counselor is by contacting the Sons of Norway at 1-800-945-8851. Some agents work on a contracted basis.

One of President Johnsen’s membership goals for 2020-2022 is to maintain our membership rolls. Secondly, all lodges have a recruitment goal that has been set by the International Board which we aspire to achieve.

We can keep member energy high by engaging them in virtual activities of interest. Do not underestimate the skills of your veteran members; many of them are tech savvy!

Making your members feel valuable can be accomplished in many ways, but I would like to remind lodge leaders that membership pins and certificates are available through the headquarters office. The pins begin with the fifth year of membership and are available in increments of 5 years up to 75 years of membership. The cost is $3.00 per pin. Mary Henkels in the Supply Department: 612-821-4645 will assist you. Certificates honoring more veteran members are available from Sherry Gorse, beginning with 25 years of membership: 612-821-4643.

Another resource for lodges is the Zone Director that has been assigned to your lodge. These individuals have been seated on the District 5 Board to provide help to all lodges. Many of them have served in local lodge leadership positions. They are willing to help, simply contact your representative. Brainstorming solutions to the issues a lodge is facing will hopefully yield results and can provide your leadership team with ideas.

Each week on the District 5 Facebook page, a suggestion is provided for membership recruitment. The ideas are practical and easily implemented. If you do not have a Facebook account, one is able to accomplish that quickly. Go to and follow the set-up prompts. District 5’s page is named, Sons of Norway District 5.

Individuals apply for access to the page. A screener is in place to monitor those who visit our page and to protect our members’ posts. Please share what has worked well for your lodge. We all grow by sharing ideas.

It may also be interesting for you to search for individual lodges in your area who have Facebook pages. Lodges post events and articles of interest. The posts may include ways to celebrate the Nordic lifestyle or display beautiful photos of the country of Norway. I encourage you to search what District 5 has to offer!

Please contact me if I can provide further service to your lodge.


Fra SofN D5 Vice President - Cheryl Wille-Schlesser

Valkyrien Lodge from Woodville, WI, has made it to Norway! Really! Many members of the Valkyrien Lodge of Woodville, WI who are walking in their spare time for exercise have now reached Ringsaker, Norway for a total of 4,036 miles. Nine people have earned a Bronze walking medal for 100 miles and five have earned their Silver Medal for walking another 180 miles. Two have earned the Gold medal for walking an additional 270 miles. Now, we can turn around and see if we can walk home to Wisconsin. Audrey Severson President, Valkyrien Lodge
*For more information about the Sports Medal program, dial 612-821-4640, Sons of Norway headquarters.

New positions have been added to the membership division in Minneapolis.
David Crabb
overseas strategic planning and works on future fraternal engagement projects such as offerings that could appeal to a younger demographic. Contact:, Phone 612-821-4605
Connie O'Brien is the overall Membership Manager. Contact: , Phone: 612-821-4618
Doris Kamstra works with the annual lodge recruitment contest and other programs; she assists with membership issues as needed. Contact: 612-821-4697
Sherry Gorse enrolls new members, has access to lodge history, disbanded lodges, and can help you with membership reports. She can assist a lodge in finding people who may have been placed in the Spirit New Century or Central Lodges. Contact: 612-821-4643 (Sherry has the most tenure in this department and can answer your questions quickly.)
In addition, Lodges should report any member deaths to their membership or financial secretary who will in turn share this information with the headquarters staff.

There is a new webmaster for the Order, Nick Hennin. Contact:
Contact Mr. Hennin if you wish to obtain your lodge’s logo. A vector image will be created and returned to you that can be used for publicity purposes, placed on signage advertising your lodge, or it can be added and used on your lodge’s letterhead or in electronic communications.

Zone Directors, local Presidents and others from time to time may need to order membership materials.
The Sons of Norway Supply Department is managed by Mary Henkels. Contact: 612-821-4645--Please leave a voice mail message for her.
The staff is taking summer vacation, and many individuals are working from home during the pandemic. Your lodge’s membership committee should check your current inventory of items and prepare for post pandemic days. Most lodges are looking forward to possible fall events where membership information can be shared.
Local Presidents…How have you kept your Lodge’s programming in front of your members? Some lodges have opted for virtual meetings. Information can be shared in a Power Point presentation on a Zoom format. If a Lodge president would like me to schedule a virtual meeting for your lodge and you do not have Zoom capabilities, please notify me. You will have access to the Go to Meeting website where you can hold a lodge meeting, conduct any business that is needed, or invite a speaker to make a presentation.
In case you missed it, a new electronic publication, Viking for Kids will launch in August 2020. It will contain a variety of content such as feature articles, puzzles, quizzes, coloring pages, and facts about Norway. It is produced by the Sons of Norway staff for readers ages 8 to 14. It is a quarterly publication and can be downloaded from . Print some of these for your next meeting or membership event!
We must make Sons of Norway relevant to younger people if their membership is important to us. As our lodges and districts look forward to new lodge activities and membership recruitment let us keep this quote in mind, Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations-Zig Ziglar.

Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
District 5 Vice President

Fra SofN D5 Vice President - Cheryl Wille-Schlesser

God dag, alle sammen,

   At the virtual D5 Board meeting this week, I was elected to serve as your Vice President for a two-year term vacated by Kathy Secora. It will take some time to connect with Kathy and get the membership materials from her, but in the meantime, I have outlined some suggestions for your lodge’s officers/directors to consider.

   My current plan is to see to fruition the 2020 programming I have implemented as the D5 Sports and Recreation Director. Final mileage totals for the Virtual Walk to Norway are due December 15th. At that time, I will prepare any remaining Lodge awards and mail them to local Lodge Presidents. It is the intent of the D5 Board to fill the Sports and Recreation position soon.

   The D5 Vice President chairs the District-wide Membership Committee and fulfills other duties such as working closely with the Zone Directors and helping District Lodges to address the needs they may have.

   Questions have already been posed as to the plan for membership losses in the wake of COVID-19. I believe that the best answers come from our local lodges, and I will be asking all Lodge Presidents to share their best practices. I will send a communique soon. Your local lodge’s Executive Committee should give this some thought when you meet the next time.

   Ask your Lodge how the District 5 Zone Directors can be of assistance. Be thinking of the things your lodge needs to continue its success or to improve its status. Change calls for new practices but know that we are here to help. Zone Directors have the capability of arranging virtual meetings for this purpose at no cost to your lodge. I will be the contact for that task, please ask your Zone Director to arrange it.

   On my immediate agenda is working with the International Fraternal Director to gather ideas for membership retention and recruitment. Should your lodge have a Membership Committee, convening it to discuss the future struggles your lodge may face would be a prudent activity yet this summer.
   Are there any on-line activities that you could implement to engage your members? Could you hold a socially distanced activity? Remember to consult your local county and state laws for gatherings and what is allowable. New restrictions are being put into effect based on the rise of new infections.
   Suggestions for locals to keep member interest high:
1) Continue to share your lodge’s newsletter, as it may be the only communique´ some members receive. Ask each of your Board officers/directors to contribute to the newsletter, providing information that will appeal to a wide variety of members. Add some humor, as it may be sincerely needed by some members. Post extra copies around your community to gather interest from potential members.
2) Provide Lodge updates via snail mail, e-mail, or e-blasts.
3) Update and post new information on your lodge’s website and/or Facebook page(s).
4) Deliver information to the Chamber of Commerce in your area that promotes your lodge. Note: This may require a Chamber membership to participate.
5) Prepare business cards for the members of your lodge so they can disseminate them to others who may be interested in membership.
6) Contact your more veteran members via the phone or by sending a “thinking of you” card. Let them know that they matter. No doubt they are the individuals who carried the torch before you.
7) The delivery of a simple floral arrangement from someone’s garden would no doubt be welcomed. Discover who your gardeners are!
8) Later in the summer, a basket of lovingly grown produce would be a great surprise.
9) Plan a membership engagement for this summer, virtually, either a cultural presentation or play a game together. Bingo games can be found on-line and members can access their cards electronically. Others who are more able can download the cards for your aged members.
10) Consider asking your planned speakers for August and September to organize their presentations in a virtual format, i.e. a Power Point presentation, if the pandemic quarantines continue or become more stringent.
11) Ask your cultural director to share an activity which engages your members. Ideas can be found on the program in a box found on the International website: Select Member Resources from the top of the page. Then scroll to: Expand and Enhance Lodge Programming. Ideas also can be found for summer programming.
12) If someone in your lodge has taken a recent trip, prepare their travels for sharing and post them on-line.
   Should you have a concern, please contact me to share it. If you are calling, please leave a voice message. I am screening calls and may not recognize your number; I will return a call.

Tusen takk,
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
D5 Vice President