At WoodmenLife, our mission is to make a difference in hometowns across America; we value service to others, as well as giving back to our members and their communities. That passion for helping those who need it most is demonstrated daily by our members, who plan and carry out thousands of service projects each year.
To recognize the volunteer efforts of those who go above and beyond, every year we present two prestigious awards: Fraternalist of the Year and Outstanding Project of the Year. Nominations come in from across the country, and the winners are selected for their impact in their communities and their reflection of WoodmenLife’s values. Our award recipients make giving back part of their daily lives.
2023 Fraternalist of the Year – Flynn Barnes
Flynn Barnes, an unassuming father and grandfather, is a regular volunteer in his community. In addition to his efforts helping those affected by a tornado, the Florence, AL, Chapter 8 president frequently volunteers with his church, helps the homeless, presents U.S. flags, works to fight hunger, and more.
One person who saw Barnes in action was WoodmenLife Representative Rocky Beck, who nominated him.
A generous act stood out to Beck. Barnes was part of a group of volunteers who helped move a single mother and her two physically challenged kids to Kentucky. They also helped repair her donated home and car.
“I was one of several men from the church who helped load her furniture and moved her up to Kentucky,” Barnes said. “When we got there, the trailer was dilapidated and needed repairs. She also had a car that wouldn’t run. It was repaired, and then we hauled it up there on a trailer.
“And while there, we made repairs to the plumbing and electrical work. I was in a group of volunteers and did a lot of the work because I knew how, but I was part of a group effort.”
Barnes sees his chapter as one close-knit family. He is passionate about growing his chapter’s meeting attendance, and he sees that as key to growing membership.
When complimented for all he does, Barnes said it was something he could do more of after raising a family and retiring.
“I don’t plan on stopping until I’m lying on my back,” he declared.
2023 Project of the Year – Chapter 1, Albuquerque, NM
Not only did the project conducted by Chapter 1 in Albuquerque, NM, last Christmas win the 2023 Outstanding Project of the Year Award, its participants now want to make it an annual event.
That’s the effect of purchasing $3,000 worth of items and collecting hundreds of toys, as well as clothing, blankets and more for kids staying at UNM Children’s Hospital. The hospital was full last winter and had run out of toys during the holiday season.
In stepped Chapter 1 and students at Atrisco Heritage Academy, where Chapter President Roland Soto teaches. He was touched by the generosity and the response from the hospitalized children. That led him to convince his chapter to keep the project in mind every year.
“I said, ‘Let’s not let this be a one-time thing, let’s continue to help them for Christmas,’” he said, adding that his fellow members happily agreed.
When Soto found out the chapter’s work was selected as Outstanding Project of the Year, he was humbled.
“My chapter and I have never looked for recognition because volunteering is its own reward,” he said. “Being recognized nationally affirms that what we are doing is working. We hope to serve as an example to every chapter that if you keep working hard to help your communities, someone will see and appreciate your efforts, no matter how small or large.”
We’ve been helping to protect the financial future of families like yours, making a difference in hometowns across America and honoring our country since 1890. As a not-for-profit life insurance company, we put money back into the community. We’re here when you need us most.Learn More About WoodmenLife