Maybe you miss your college fraternity days and you're looking for a group where you can share that same camaraderie. Maybe you and your wife are looking for a group that holds family-centered social activities. Maybe you want to give back to your community by getting involved in an upstanding charitable cause.
The Shrine of North America offers all this and more.
The Shrine is officially called "The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America."
The Shrine got its fancy name from its founders, who hit upon the idea of using the Middle Eastern theme as the backdrop for their new fraternity in the 1870s, with the idea of fun in mind.
The Shrine is a fraternity - a group of men with common interests who basically like to get together and have a good time.
You may recognize the Shriners as the men who march in parades and hold circuses, or you may think of the big Shrine conventions.
You might enjoy watching Shrine Bowl football games, like the annual East-West Shrine Game. Perhaps you associate the Shriners with our wonderful philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children.
And who are the Shriners - these men who belong to this colorful and patriotic organization?
One thing that all Shriners have in common is their Masonic heritage. All Shriners are members of the Masons, a fraternity that is even larger and older than the Shrine itself. All Shriners are committed to the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth, and all Shriners share the Masonic belief in the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.
Beyond that, virtually any man can be a Shriner.
Shriners come from all walks of life. They are doctors and dentists, movie stars and stage performers, plumbers and mechanics. They're husbands and fathers, corporate executives, the fellow who lives next door or works in the office down the hall.
Some famous Shriners from the past include movie star John Wayne, and several U.S. presidents including Ford, Truman and FDR. Clark Gable also was a Shriner, and so was Looney Toons actor Mel Blanc, the "Man of a Thousand Voices."
Today, the Shrine has several members in Congress and sitting Governors.
These are just a few of the many well-known and successful individuals who have included the Shrine among their life's priorities.
Of course, most of our members are not famous. We have more than a half million members, who belong to 191 local chapters, which we call Shrine Temples, across North America.
The Shriners hold regular meetings, and they also have many fun activities for their members, such as barbecues, fish fries, golf tournaments, dances, banquets, and so forth.
The Shrine knows that a man's family is extremely important, and we include a variety of activities and events that the whole family can enjoy.
The Shriners can join many different units, or clubs within their chapter, and participate in various activities.
A member can join a motorcycle unit or horse patrol that rides in parades, or a band unit that performs at different Shrine or community functions. There are units for yachtsmen, clowns, pilots - almost any interest a man might have, there's sure to be a unit he would enjoy belonging to.
There are also Shrine Clubs within their chapter, which are smaller membership groups that are based on geography. The Shrine Clubs are a sort of satellite group that is part of the Temple.
If the Temple a Shriner belongs to, for example, is 100 miles away, there's probably a Shrine Club right in his hometown that he can be active in.
Is it beginning to sound as if there's something in the Shrine that would interest you?
One of the best things about being a Shriner is that no matter who you are, no matter what you do for a living, no matter where you go, you are never a stranger - anywhere. Wherever you go, you can be assured of meeting men with a similar Masonic background and a zest for living.
What the average person cannot know, what they can never experience - unless they are Shriners - is the camaraderie, the deep friendships, the good fellowship and the great times shared by all Shriners.
But I don't want any of you to think that the fun and fellowship of the Shrine is all there is.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is the official philanthropy of the Shrine, and a very important part of being a Shriner.
The Shrine opened its very first Shriners Hospital back in 1922, and today there is an international network of 22 Shriners Hospitals that provide highly expensive, specialized medical care to children with orthopaedic problems or burn injuries - all at no charge to the patient or his family.
Shriners Hospitals are the very heart and soul of the Shrine; they have become "centers of excellence" where children receive some of the best medical care in the world, totally without charge, regardless of their race, religion or relationship to a Shriner.
Shriners help contribute to Shriners Hospitals in many ways. A portion of each Shriner's membership dues is used to help fund Shriners Hospitals. In addition, Shriners help support Shriners Hospitals in many other ways.
Shriners help locate children who could benefit from the specialized care we offer. They transport children and their families to the hospitals, and home again. They work as volunteers in the hospitals. They help staff outreach clinics in cities where children are seen in areas where we don't have a Shriners Hospital.
There are countless ways that Shriners help support Shriners Hospitals, and for anyone who wants to make a lasting contribution to humanity, there is no better way than to help Shriners Hospitals in their mission of helping children.
As you can see, a Shriner's life is full - we have fun and fellowship - and we support a philanthropy that has been called the "World's Greatest Philanthropy."
If you need a sense of belonging - we've got it. If you have a longing to help others - we've got it. If you want more friends in your life - we've got it. If you want family activities for all to enjoy - we've got that, too.
So, if you want to be a part of a premier organization, consider what the Shrine can do for you. More than half a million men - and their families - are already experiencing what the Shrine is all about. Why not you?