The Friendly Fifth

Vice President Messages

Dear Lodge Officers:

I wanted to make sure you were aware that the 2024 District 5 Convention is coming up in June.  The location is in Indianapolis. 

At this time, we are getting ready to put together our Program and Advertising booklet.  We would like to have your lodge and/or members put an ad in the booklet.  Please see the attached form for you to fill out and send in.  You can discuss this at your next board meeting.  If an individual person would like to contribute in the Well Wishers section that would be fantastic too!

Let’s make this a great convention and get all of the District lodges highlighted!  Tusen Takk.

Wendy K Winkelman

President and Editor
Shawnee Skogen 5-689

District 5 Vice President

There are lots of people who could and should be members of your lodge.

 Who, you ask?  You already know them!   They are your relatives from ages 0 - 15.   Surely, you have children, grandchildren (and greats), nieces and nephews (and greats) cousins, and even step relatives!

They all can be members of your lodge as Heritage Members under YOUR membership!  They don’t have to live with you to be Heritage members.  How much does it cost?  Nothing.  For free.   How do you get them on your roster?   Quite easy, peasy!

If you use a paper application form, the Heritage Members are added in Option 2 on the form.  There is room to add 4 children all at the same time!  If you have more, just photocopy the form and include the additional children with the original.  The paper form can be printed off the website.  Headquarters will no longer print and distribute the paper form.

There is also a special Heritage Application form.  That has to be printed from the website.  It does the same thing.

The easiest way to add the Heritage children is online.  If you don’t know how to do that, find someone who can help you.

First, out of courtesy, get permission from the child’s parent/guardian to add them to the membership as a Heritage Member. Tell the child what you are doing, and follow up with more information about why you want them in the lodge.  Tell them about the sports program and awards they can work for; the cultural programs where they can learn crafts and cooking, etc.  Tell them how to access and use the programs, and let the parent/guardian know what you are doing.  Better yet, sit down with the child and show him/her about Sons of Norway and what is in it for them.  Sometimes, this involvement may spark the interest of the parent/guardian, and they might also want to join Sons of Norway!

Why add these relatives to the lodge membership?  Who better to tell them the amazing history and heritage in their ancestry than you and Sons of Norway?  They can get engaged in projects and learning.  Invite these children to attend a meeting with you or go on a special day trip with your lodge.

Again, you ask, why?  Almost everyone eventually yearns to find out where and who they came from.  Why not help these children now with that journey?  Remember, there is no cost to the child or to you.

What you need to sign up a Heritage Member:

Name, address, date of birth, phone and e-mail of child (or parent/guardian), and that’s it!  Including the phone and e-mail allows any lodge correspondence to be sent to that Heritage Member and keeps them feeling connected to the lodge.

Another reason we should get these Heritage members on board is that many lodges are consisting of mostly elderly folk.  Without the infusion and enthusiasm of bringing in young people, our lodges can face difficulties remaining alive.  We also need more new members in the 16 and up age groups.  Any time we can sign up a new enthusiastic member is a win for your lodge.

So, what are you waiting for?  Let’s get those Heritage members signed up!

Wendy K Winkelman, LaVonne Wier, Scott Wegner, Tom Boudreau
District 5 Membership Committee

Sons of Norway District 5 2023 recruitment campaign.

Sons of Norway District 5 is pleased to announce the launch of our 2023 recruitment campaign.

Starting August 1, 2023, all lodge members are asked to recruit new members to their local lodge.  For every new member (not Heritage Member) recruited, the lodge will receive $10 for an individual or $20 for a family membership.  This does not include adding adults to an existing Adult Family membership. The money awarded will be sent to the local lodge of the recruiting member to be used as the lodge would like.

This campaign is an opportunity for all members to get involved and support their local lodge in meeting their membership goals.  As well, it helps continue to grow the Sons of Norway organization.

The contest will begin August 1, 2023 and go until October 31, 2023.

Please turn in all paper membership applications to Headquarters by October 31, 2023.  This will ensure that they are processed by the deadline.  New members who are signed up online via should also be entered by October 31, 2023.

If you sign up a new member online, please email District VP, Wendy Winkelman, advising of that new membership (

Contact with any questions.

District 5’s VP Idea Exchange!
➢ If the information that was shared seemed overwhelming, select one idea to try.
➢ Build your toolbox of ideas over the course of time. Modify and change as needed.
➢ Ask for help-when one succeeds, we all succeed!
➢ Keep lines of communication open. 
Tusen Takk til the twenty-one lodge representatives from across the 5th District who found time in their busy schedules to attend the vice president discussions Tuesday evening. I trust that you left with some new ideas for membership recruitment and retention, that you were reminded of offerings for youth in the district, and that you gained some practical knowledge on how to advertise and plan for your lodge events. An email sent earlier this week has multiple attachments to assist your leadership teams from President Darlene Arneson at Mandt Lodge in Stoughton, WI.

I want to thank the participants for their amazing ideas and willingness to share them. We are stronger together! Know that the entire District 5 Board is at your disposal, and we are happy to work with your executive committee and directors to address any concerns or issues. We can help you brainstorm ideas for events that will bring more recognition to your lodge.

From a quick show of hands at the end of the meeting, these gatherings are something that many people would like to continue. I will be scheduling our next gathering following Syttende Mai at the end of May. I am excited to learn about the many successful ways your lodges chose to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day. I have been asked to consider a different day of the week. A tentative date to mark on your calendar is Wednesday, May 25, 2022, with a 7 PM Central Time Zone start. Keep a running list of topics near your computer as the next few weeks go by and bring them to our next gathering. The chances are high that others have a similar concern.

Attracting New Members
• Hold an event to pique the curiosity of prospective members, i.e., a Norsk foods workshop, a display of Scandinavian items, a lefse sale, or a Norwegian-related celebration. Expand your list from national holidays to more quirky and fun occasions-your members will thank you. Try a “talent” show. The sky is the limit, and the laughs will be hearty.
• Plan a membership luncheon at a restaurant or prepare a light lunch for guests to serve at your lodge or meeting place. Explain how your lodge enriches the lives of residents in your community.
• Invite a Sons of Norway (SofN) insurance professional (IP) to join you; they will help to defray the meal costs. If your state does not sell SofN products, speak with an IP on how they can help from a distance.
• Each One Reach One-Ask your current members to bring a relative, friend, or coworker to the gathering. Relationships build lodges.
• If Not You Then Who? Immigrant stories contain powerful messages. Retell stories from your family’s immigration experience or use stories from books such as, “Dear unforgettable brother”: the Stavig letters from Norway to America. Connecting with one’s heritage is important and successive generations will thank you! As we move further away from the first-generation narratives, now three to four generations removed, it is more difficult to convey the importance of finding a new home for one’s family in America.
• If you know of someone who can describe living under the Nazi regime during WWII, ask them to speak of their family’s struggles and what the phrase, Alt for Norge really meant.
• Always take Sons of Norway materials with you. Pack a small tub with informational materials about your lodge and place it in the trunk of your vehicle. Include some membership applications, an old Viking or two, and your lodges trifold brochure or sheets that explain the workings of your lodge. Tell them what your lodge has to offer!

Getting the Word Out
How do you inform others that your lodge exists?
Does your community have an organization for all not-for-profits organizations?
Is your lodge a member of the local Chamber of Commerce?
Do you label merchandise that leaves your site with your lodge information and contact numbers?
Do you know where advertisements can be displayed in your community?
Is there a historical museum or site that you could partner with to move your agenda forward?

Make Friends with the SofN International Website!
Much information is available to our local leaders and lodge officers at
Log in to the site, using a username and password that you create.
Select Member Resources, then Lodge Leader Resources.
Check out the 2022 MEMBER RECRUITMENT CHALLENGE! All lodges are asked to recruit 4% more members than they did in 2021. Any lodge that recruited 3 or fewer members in 2021 has been given a recruitment goal of 4 new members.

Staying Connected
Deliveries of baskets or bags containing seasonal items, such as potted plants, treats, puzzles, and messages are often well-received by your aging or infirmed members. Drop these items at the homes of your members.
Saw a wooden troll out of plywood and paint it black. Don’t forget to add the troll’s tail! Stake it in a member’s yard. Ask them to take pictures of the troll and their family for your lodge’s digital scrapbook or use the photos for advertising lodge events.
Select a Viking helmet that can travel to members’ homes. Include a spiral notebook so they can add some thoughts about the helmet when it arrived. Invite those who so choose to pen a story, write a poem, sketch a picture, or share a Norwegian recipe. Pass the helmet at the next meeting!

The lodge president should contact the member and encourage them to re-up their membership. Find out whether their decision is financial. If so, would another member sponsor them for the year? If these individuals are charter members of your lodge, approach your board and ask them to consider paying the member’s annual dues. If the member chooses to leave, ask them to complete an exit survey. The answers you receive may be revealing about the health of your lodge!

Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
District 5 Vice President 

Membership Pin Shipping Grant 2021

Kjærer, District 5 members,
The District 5 Board of Directors met in Madison, WI, on October 8-9, 2021. One business item approved by the board was a lodge grant to cover the shipping costs of membership pins. Any lodge that has ordered or will order membership pins for their members this year is eligible for the assistance.
Takk så mye,

Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
District 5 Vice President
Membership Pin Shipping Grant Pdf

Our lodges are opening, and it is time to celebrate!

CLICK HERE for District 5 Re-Opening Powerpoint

Use your best judgment when selecting the activities that are offered and determine whether it is safer for members to meet inside or outdoors. The main thing now is to reconnect with one’s members and make others in your area aware of any plans. Please hold lodge meetings through the summer months; this is not the time for your lodge to take a summer vacation! Taking a winter recess makes more sense if needed.

Should your meeting location have restrictions remaining, meet elsewhere. Get creative!  Consider holding a picnic, a bonfire, take an excursion, or simply gather in a safe location such as a park forming a circle for conversation and sharing.

Print media and social media sites are great places to post your events. An old-fashioned, but still effective way of advertising, is to create flyers for posting in prominent locations. Use this idea: ask each one to reach one. Members who invite guests to your meeting could help your lodge to reap positive rewards later.

If your lodge has an upcoming event, post it to the District 5 Facebook page or ask me to post it on your behalf. It always amazes me who is choosing to visit our page; we have over 400 followers! Please remember the demographics of your lodge and provide multiple activities that engage all age groups who are present. Ask for planning help from your lodge’s directors or officers. Perhaps the cultural director, sports director, or youth director will have great suggestions to consider.

In 2019, I asked the SofN Foundation for financial assistance in promoting the Sons of Norway to a wide audience from many different locales through a grant application. This cultural grant application was unique in its design and was awarded. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was canceled.

The great news is that it will see fruition in 2021! I am leading a project for the 5th District that will allow us to share what is happening in our District in the upcoming months and into 2022.

With the cooperation of the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, we hope to provide another venue for guests to visit. Some of the members of my home lodge, Vennelag, in Mt. Horeb, WI will be assisting. We will be demonstrating the art of Norwegian cooking on-site at Nordic Fest in Decorah, IA at the end of July. In addition, some of the officers from Valdres Lodge in Decorah who are District 1 members will also be present. An information table will allow us to share the many upcoming events that our lodges have planned. Since thousands of visitors come to Decorah each summer, this is an ideal way to share what is happening in 5 th District Lodges.

 *I am asking all lodge presidents to prepare and send to me information that can be on display on July 23rd and 24th . Please provide a summary of your fall programming ideas. Since we are well into the age of technology, many guests will simply snap a photo of the listed information, but hard copies are also welcome for distribution.

Basic member applications, old Viking magazines, and other information pieces have been obtained from Headquarters and will be free for the taking. Please assist us in sharing the benefits of the Sons of Norway and news from our local lodges.

If you plan to be in Decorah for Nordic Fest, please drop by our tent and say, “Hei!” We will be located directly in front of Bethania Lutheran Church on the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum campus. In the event of inclement weather, you will find us in the church basement.

Tusen Takk for hjelpen oss (A thousand thanks for helping us),
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
istrict 5 Vice President
608-219-4464 (Please leave a voice message.)


Hello, all lodge leaders and members, Exciting things are happening in the Fifth District!

Our zones and lodges are reaching out to their members in a variety of ways: Syttende Mai dinners, drive-thru meals, and parades, virtual social hours, delivering flowers, and by sending greeting cards or other mailings. All of these actions reinforce with your members their importance and how they are valued by you. Great work has been exhibited…let’s keep moving forward!

Your newsletter has been critical communication piece throughout the pandemic and will continue to link your members to your lodge. Include some summer activities that people can do in a cohort or with a family group over the course of the summer months. Suggest a historical outing, a baseball game, or a safely distanced Nordic event. Add to your newsletter neighboring lodge events for your geographical area and encourage participation.

If your lodge has scheduled a picnic, make it as energetic as possible. Consider adding some lively entertainment and try a new venue. Cater a meal so no one needs to prepare anything. All your members need to do is arrive and plan to have a social evening among friends. Encourage guest participation. Hold a raffle. Plan a scavenger hunt around the picnic grounds. Start a bonfire and celebrate Midtsommer.

Watch the District 5 Facebook page for more great ideas. Log-on to Facebook. Create a user account and a secure password. Longer passwords are safer than shorter ones. Include a combination of letters, cases, numbers, and special characters. DO NOT use the word “password” as your password! Change your password about every three to six months or sooner, if you suspect any violation of your account.

If your lodge has not established its own Facebook page, that is something to also consider seriously. Many people are tech savvy today, and they choose to use virtual sites before any others!

Join me for a virtual meeting about lodge reopening. I have arranged a session via the Go to Meeting platform. To participate, download the Go to Meeting app for your tablet, laptop, or computer. One may also participate using the phone number provided.

Encourage your lodge officers to attend, and specifically ask those who serve on your lodge’s membership committee to be present; usually, this is your lodge vice president and could include the membership secretary or the social director. I will share some ideas for membership recruitment from Doris Kamstra at the International Office. There will be time for idea exchange and questions. I look forward to “seeing” representatives from your lodge very soon!

Vice President Cheryl Schlesser


Follow the link below to access the meeting.
Sat, Jun 12, 2021
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

You can also dial in using your phone. United States: +1 (571) 317-3122
Access Code: 776-840-237

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:


Re-Energizing Your Lodge

Re-Energizing Your Lodge-Cheryl Wille-Schlesser, District 5 Vice President April 27, 2021

1. Start with your Board of Directors or Officers.
 Engage with them, check-in, provide updates, and plan meetings that keep the board informed of the latest happenings.
 Find a time to reach out to these officers to personally update them on lodge accomplishments and any current needs.  Ask them to provide ideas that they may not be willing to share in a larger group setting.
 If your lodge has been sheltered over the course of the last year, it is time to begin thinking about your reopening!

2. Build personal relationships with your members.
 Connecting one on one with your members makes them feel valued, heard, and understood. Your board could divide the roster of members into smaller segments, with each officer calling a list of names.
 Ask your members to provide feedback about the programming provided.
 Are they getting what they wanted from your lodge meetings?
 (Has your lodge used the Membership Satisfaction Survey to guide your planning?)
 Finally, sending handwritten cards on a member’s birthday or anniversary is a small way of showing him or her that they are a valued part of the lodge.

3. Host a Thank you Event or Consider a lodge trip to a Norwegian destination.
 Relax and rewind with your members in a lighter atmosphere where no work is necessary, and bonds can be forged between members!
 Check with your state’s historical society and identify natural areas or venues that showcase Norwegian history, customs, or culture.
 Use the connection with Borton Overseas Travel and take advantage of the discount provided to plan a trip to Seattle, a Viking festival, Syttende Mai in New York City, or Norway!
 You may find that some of these travelers are now more willing to step into a leadership role following the experience they had.
 Connect with a lodge near your destination and ask for suggestions of things to do and places to enjoy a great meal.

4. Public Recognition
 Seek out various ways to officially recognize your members and introduce them to your community of supporters.
 Publicize your fundraising events through a variety of platforms: print, social media, airwaves, using flyers, the local Chamber of Commerce, or at other events. Later, officially recognize the community for their support of your event(s).

Investing your time with board members and members alike will ultimately create a lasting impact on your lodge. By fostering a positive environment for both your board meetings and lodge meetings; your lodge can remain focused on their mission and the ways they can positively impact any local community

From Vice President Cheryl Schlesser

I'm forwarding a list of winter activities compiled with the assistance of Allen Watrud, Lodge President at Vennelag Lodge in Mt. Horeb, WI to help keep your members engaged through the doldrums of winter. Give your members a reason to continue their membership with your lodge! Provide activities for their enjoyment and connect these members via Zoom or Go to Meeting to share their accomplishments.

A lodge could decide whether to add point values to each of the activities. When members complete one of the activities from the list, they send the Lodge President or Cultural Director a note to that effect.

Names could be entered into a drawing for restaurant, grocery store, on-line vendors, a Chamber of Commerce gift certificate, or to a Scandinavian shop close-by. The winner(s) could be recognized at your Syttende Mai event.

Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
District 5 Vice President

Some considerations are:
Friluftsliv Activities
 Cross-country skiing
 Downhill skiing
 Snowshoeing
 Winter hiking
 Outdoor camping
 Ice skating
 Ice fishing
 Play kubb.
 Tobogganing or sledding
 Walk a total of 20 miles outside.
 Help an elderly neighbor shovel snow.
 Snap pictures of winter sunrises and sunsets.

Literature and Culture
 Read 2 books by Norwegian authors.
 Listen to 5 of the Tuesday Nordic News programs from D5
 Learn/do rosemaling  Learn/do kolrosing
 Make a Norsk craft: julebuk, winter wreath, carving, embroidery, knitting, nålbinding
 Take a language course-Duolingo, Babbel, Primsleur, or with a local instructor
 Take an on-line class through Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum
 Perform 3 pieces of Norsk music to share with someone on-line.
 Listen to Viking music then describe the images this music conjures for you.

Cook a meal of Norwegian delights, shrimp, crab chowder, meatballs
Bake your favorite Norwegian food: shellfish or salmon, lamb, or pork Eating a Norwegian food, prepackaged such as fiskeboller
Enjoy some sjokolade from manufacturers such as Freia, Nider, or Fjåk
Prepare a traditional kransekake, kvæfjordkake, or eplekake Eat some lutefisk (extra credit)
Make a Scandinavian-inspired cocktail with Linie aquavitt

Outreach to Others
 Call an elderly member to chat and share the latest news.
 Write a letter or send a valentine to a member who does not receive email, to a shut-in, or to a serviceman.
 Prepare a surprise bag of goodies for someone in your lodge.
 Sign-up a new member (multiple credits for multiple members).
 Donate to a charity in need of support.

From Vice President Cheryl Schlesser

District 5 All Zone Meeting, January 23, 2021
Many of our lodges have addressed business needs and maintained contact with their members using a virtual meeting platform such as Zoom, go to Meeting, or Google Teams. Some lodges have taped programs for posting on their YouTube channels. Several lodges have delivered goodie bags to their members. Some have sent greeting cards. Lodge newsletters have become a critical communication piece over the course of the last year. Others are placing personal phone calls to their members to let them know they are valued.

At the District 5 training meeting held on Saturday, January 23rd, lodge leaders from across the District shared the reopening plans they have planned for their members. I have included the Lodge name and location along with the name of a local contact for the activity. If you would like to connect with one of these members, please make me aware. I will be the intermediary person with the lodge and ask for permission for one to make a contact. In this way, I will maintain confidentiality of personal information.

Thank you,
Cheryl Wille-Schlesser
Zone 3 Director District 5 Vice President

Reopening Lodges in 2021…Suggestions for Making a Strong Comeback

1) Fagernes Lodge, Blair, WI-
Reopening plans include asking the most veteran members to retell special family stories. The location of the event is uncertain, but should the weather be cooperative, this activity could be held outdoors. By recording or videotaping these stories, the lodge will preserve local history, as well as that from their lodge the same time. Contact: Lavonne Weir.

2) Fosselyngen Lodge, Milwaukee, WI-
Fosselyngen Lodge plans to celebrate everything missed over the course of the pandemic by celebrating Christmas in July with a picnic! Members will provide their favorite Norsk food and join in the festivities. Contact: Lodge President, Sue Berg Roedel.

3) Wergeland Lodge, La Crosse, WI-
Lodge members are ready to kick up their heels with a grand Syttende Mai party at Drugan’s Castle Mound Restaurant in Holmen. Possibly, Wergeland’s youth dancers will add a special flair to their event. Contact: Lodge President Ramona Johnson or Karen Broadhead, Zone 2 Director.

4) Edvard Grieg Lodge, Cincinnati, OH-
Plans to celebrate their reopening by planning a special20th Anniversary party for their members. Contact: President Jim Herman or his wife Susan.

5) Nordkap Lodge, the Detroit Suburbs-
Reopening plans this year include a fundraiser for the Nordkap Scholarship Fund. Members will be kicking-off a fund-raising drive for the Nordkap Scholarship Fund via a Zoom video conference in March. The campaign, called "Kringles for Kollege," would award a Danish Kringle to members who contribute a minimum of $25 to the scholarship fund. The kringles will be distributed at a drive-up location on a given day to those who qualify. Contact: Lodge President Erik Duus or Louise Giles, Nordkapen Editor and Publicity Director.

6) Mandt Lodge, Stoughton, WI-
Members have already held small outdoor gatherings for members based on county laws. Friluftsliv events included skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking around the farm of Lodge President Darlene Arneson and husband John’s farm. Bonfires were built, members kept a social distance, packaged snacks were provided, and libations were served.. Business meetings are done via ZOOM and we tape the lodge program meetings and post on our YouTube channel. Have done several community service projects including hosting two American Red Cross blood drives, gifts and craft bags for food pantry families, and donating milk through Second Harvest Foodbank. Also open up the lodge on certain dates for members to check out books and videos to use at home. Contact: Lodge President Darlene Arneson or Vice President Vicky Goplen

7) Vikings of the Smokies, Knoxville, TN-
Members are gearing up for the Taste of Scandinavia, an event that highlights traditional foods of the Nordic countries. They hope to participate in a local parade decked in their finest Norwegian attire. Contact: President Jolene Dewald or Zone 6 Director Dee Bumpers.

8) Circle City Lodge in Carmel/Indianapolis, IN-
The lodge has been holding small gatherings based on members’ interests: foods, literature, and needlework, Contact: Nancy Anderson.

9) Idun Lodge, Madison, WI-
When the doors are flung wide open, the members of Idun Lodge plan to celebrate with a catered dinner. Special entertainment will be provided, and surprises await those in attendance. Contact: Mary Zoroufy or Mary Bennett, Lodge Co-Presidents.

10) Nordlyset Lodge, Racine, WI-
The Nordlyset Lodge has made concerted efforts during the pandemic to remember others. They held a food drive for a local church’s food pantry, collecting many kinds of dry cereal that can be stored for an indefinite amount of time. The Lodge is promoting reading during the winter months. Members meet via Zoom to share and discuss the books they have read. Some plan to complete the paperwork required to earn literature pins. Contact: Connie Aiello or Beth Nelson, Lodge Co-Vice Presidents.

11) Vennelag Lodge-Mt. Horeb, WI-
Members are anxiously awaiting their February Friluftsliv event at a member’s farm. Snowshoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing are on the agenda. Sub sandwiches and hot beverages will be provided by the Lodge. Frivolity and festivities will be enjoyed at a safe distance around a roaring bonfire. Contact Lodge President Allen Watrud.

12) Ostestaden Lodge, Monroe, WI-
Reopening plans include touring the nation’s oldest Norwegian Lutheran Church (177 years), Wiota Lutheran Church that will be celebrating its 177th year in 2021. Ostestaden also has a tradition of celebrating Midtsommer with a raging bonfire, singing and on occasion, dancing!

13) Jotunheimen, Viroqua, WI-
The month of May is the goal for reconnecting with lodge members. They will meet in a local park and celebrate Syttende Mai! Contact: ReBecca Lewis-Clifton.

14) Shawnee Skogen, Carbondale, IL-
We had an in person meeting in October 2020 at the Peachbarn Winery. We met outside on a beautiful day, which was wonderful. In November we made lefse at our home and had 6 adults and 4 children. The kids loved it!!! It was so much fun teaching them to roll, pick up, and grill the lefse. Next year, we will all have aprons which I need to sew. Our Julebord, was postponed and is now rescheduled for March. Our Lodge has played bingo over Zoom. One interesting program was on Togo (the sled dog); our members loved it. This past month’s program was on Ole Evinsrude (boat motor inventor). I would love to share these presentations with anyone that is interested. Contact: Wendy K Winkelman, Vice President and Editor

Please keep your reopening ideas coming! Additions will be printed next week. *A reminder…If you have not returned your meeting survey, please send it Karen Eberhardt at

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 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