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National Mutual Benefit fraternity 25 years old

The local National Mutual Benefit Branch #85 celebrated its 25th anniversary Friday, September 17.

The members held a free tailgate party from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Philip High School football field. The party was just before the Philip vs. New Underwood football game. Hamburgers and hotdogs were served to local and visiting fans. During the celebration, the chapter received a visit and helping hand from Anne Rogers, who is vice president of fraternity services over 39 NMB chapters in the Midwest.

The branch includes members from Philip and surrounding communities. It's organizational meeting was held January 14, 1985, at the Gingerbread Café and 73 Bar. Charter branch officers in 1985-1986 were President Lester Pearson, Philip, Peggy Hook, Philip, George Hauk, Cottonwood, Holly Kuchenbecker, Kadoka, Francis Parsons, Milesville, Harold McDaniel, Philip, and Gilbert La Beau, Philip. Marvin and Betty Cihak were instrumental in the overall success of the branch.

Current branch officers are Mike Koehler, president, Midland, Matt Reedy, vice president, Philip, Maureen Palecek, secretary/treasurer, Philip, and trustees Doug Hauk, Philip, Jim Kanable, Philip, Bruce Kroetch, Philip, Harlan Moos, Philip. Lester Pearson, Philip, Pennie Slovek, Philip, Becky Brech, Quinn, and youth trustee Tomilyn Trask, Wasta.

Over the past 25 years the branch has earned top branch awards of either Award of Excellence, Branch of the Year, or Gold Medal Branch status every year. The branch has awarded scholarships to graduating high school seniors from Philip since 1998, in total disbursing $12,000. Branch #85 has been the sponsor of the annual punt, pass and kick competition at a home football game. Members have given away hundreds of American flags to local schools and organizations, including cemeteries.

NMB community projects include designing, constructing and painting a "Welcome to Philip" sign. Members have participated in many Red Ribbon Weeks and drug awareness programs. They have spruced up multiple parks and baseball fields with landscaping, flag poles, sheds, benches, dugouts, etc. They have built a playground basketball court, and helped repair and add playground equipment to the Philip Elementary School.

Branch #85 has held or headed fundraisers for people injured in accidents or stricken by illness, including terminal cancer, heart attacks and Kawasaki's disease. It has helped 22 individuals, two families, and one community organization with matching-funds benefit fundraisers, which include barbecues, high school football tailgates, soup suppers, pancake breakfasts, raffles, auctions, benefit dances, box socials, card parties and letter campaigns.

Total money that local NMB members have raised with fundraisers is $185,256.31. The total money that the home office in Madison, Wisc., has matched is $54,051.47. The total of fundraising money disbursed locally over the past 25 years is $239,487.78.