New Jersey State Grange
The New Jersey State Grange, a chapter of the National Grange, has many local chapters throughout Southern New Jersey. The Grange is America’s foremost volunteer and grassroots organization. The Grange is a fraternal organization for all of America that welcomes men, women and young persons to its membership, regardless of nationality, race, age, profession or educational background, providing opportunities for all to share in equal membership and to come together to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. Today’s New Jersey State Grange has a variety of departments which share their respective goals and direction with Subordinate Granges from throughout the State.
The Grange is undoubtedly the most diverse organization that exists on the national scale. Spanning some 36 states as a national organization, the Grange provides the opportunity to influence and guide legislative activities not only on a national scale, but also on a regional, state and community scale. The Grange is the people of America, people who share concerns for the needs of others; people who share the dreams of a better America; people who want to make a difference; and people who will share their abilities in the Grange.
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The Grange was founded on the National level in 1867. The New Jersey State Grange came into existence in 1873. Not unlike other organizations across our nation, the Grange as a whole experienced peaks and valleys in activities and in membership. But through it all over more than a century and a quarter, the Grange has stood the test of time and now starts into the third century it has spanned.
Pete Pompper, NJSG President, writes in a recent email, “Granges have been in New Jersey for 133 years. At this time we have 48 Community Granges in New Jersey with approximately 2000 members. We are a family-based community service organization that deals with rural life issues. It started as an agricultural organization in the 1870s throughout the United States at the time. There are several active granges in all of South Jersey. A few would be Fenwick and Elmer in Salem County, Shiloh in Cumberland Co, Cologne in Atlantic Co, Vincentown and Columbus in Burlington Co, Several in Gloucester and Camden Counties.”
The Grange is strong in legislative efforts; it has a department that develops activities for primarily the women of the Grange; there is the Youth Department that provides activities and direction to young people between the ages of 14 and 36. They have a State Junior Grange Department that works with the Granges to formulate a Junior Grange for their Grange. The Junior Grange is for children between the ages of 5 and 14. There are community service and the deaf activities departments. There is a scholarship program within the State Grange that is available to members as they seek to further their education. In summary, there is something for everyone and every member can do as much or as little as they choose.
It is true that the Grange is often associated with the farmer. The ritual, the officer titles, and the cross-section of the early membership certainly add credence to that association. Today the Grange has evolved into a strong community minded organization that seeks to serve not only its membership but also the communities, state and nation as a whole. If one wants to study the ritual, that person would find it to be as appropriate to life today as was in 1867 or 1873. But not everyone is as interested in this aspect of the Grange organization as perhaps many of the members of long standing. The one item that remains consistent in the Grange is the belief that people joining together can and will enrich their lives and the lives of others. Be part of this organization that has stood and will continue to stand the test of time.
Pompper writes, “Granges do a lot of community service work throughout their areas, and put in over 15,000 hours of community service work this year. We work very closely with the Department of Agriculture and the Farm Bureau on not only agricultural issues but everyday rural life concerns.”
There are plenty of Granges in South Jersey, so no matter what county you are in you can be an active member in this organization. Pompper writes, “Most Grange halls are located in the center of the towns they are in or at major intersections in those small towns. Grange halls were and still are the community hubs in some areas. The very first meeting of the New Jersey State Grange was held in Camden 133 years ago. Most of the early granges in NJ are in South Jersey and are still active. My grange Fenwick #20 has been meeting since the 1880s in Lower Alloways Creek Township.”
The heart and soul of every community Grange is Community Service. Through strong local leadership and innovation, the Grange contributes to a stronger and better way of life for all Americans. The Grange provides programs and activities to assist in leadership development of youth, young couples and young adults. It focuses on reaching goals rather than personal recognition. The Grange is also a genuine grassroots, non-partisan, political advocacy organization. Through its unique resolution system, the Grange reflects the needs and desires of rural communities across our nation. Their goal is the well-being and prosperity of rural.
Look out for local Grange events in your community. The following calendar compiles events which are currently scheduled by the various departments of the New Jersey State Grange, as well as events which may be of general interest to their membership and which are scheduled by either the State Grange or the National Grange.
April 1-2 Gallivanting Grangers Spring Week-End trip
May 19-21 Mid-Atlantic Lecturer’s Conference, Lebanon, New Jersey
July 1 Education and Enrichment Department State Wide Picnic
September 2-4 Gallivanting Grangers Labor Day Weekend Trip
December 2 Education and Enrichment Department Program
To locate a Grange in your community, please visit New Jersey’s Grange website at www.newjerseygrange.com. Here you will find contact information as well as times and dates of each chapter’s monthly meetings.
For more on local Organizations, visit our South Jersey Organizations page.
Author: Margo Harvey
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