A look back at 150 years of Foresters

Foresters history
Foresters history

As we reach this milestone year at Foresters, there’s no better time to look at how far we’ve come. Let’s start by revisiting some of our favorite highlights from our storied past, and reconnecting with a family with multiple member generations at Foresters. Here’s to another 150 years of Foresters and members doing more of the good they want to do!

Highlights from our history

Leadership like no other

In 1879, our young organization gained a new leader. Supreme Chief Ranger Dr. Oronhyatekha (O-ron-ya-teh-ka) began expanding Foresters and adding new benefits for death, illness, funeral and disability coverage for our members. Dr. Oronhyatekha also started paving the way for women to join Foresters as members in 1882.

Early causes and benefits

In the early 20th century, a massive earthquake in San Francisco was the precursor to our first member benefits. After mobilizing to help our members in the affected area, our leadership began developing a home for orphans and a tuberculosis clinic to support members in need.

Approaching the new millennium

Over the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, our focus was supporting global charities, children and seniors. Our members rallied together to fight against child abuse through the creation of a documentary film, and we expanded our seniors home for members, the Haven, across the US, Canada and the UK.

A sense of community and doing the good you want to do

New grants and partnerships with inspiring organizations were the stars of the 2000s and the 2010s. Through these empowering events and benefits, we were able to build playgrounds, support more communities and look after those in need. In our 150th year, our goal is to help members do more of the good they want to do.

A Foresters family legacy

Our storied history of giving back and supporting communities wouldn’t be possible without dedicated members and their unwavering spirit for helping others. When generations of these amazing members pop up at Foresters, it’s always worth celebrating.

Meet Peggy, Tonja and Brea

Peggy Affolter, her daughter, Tonja Lindbo, and granddaughter, Brea Lindbo, are three generations of a Foresters family that share our organization’s belief in volunteering and supporting communities.

It all started with Peggy’s parents back in 1956. Her mother and father joined Foresters after being introduced to the organization through friends and attending multiple social events.

“I remember being eight years old and standing on my dad’s feet and dancing,” said Peggy when she spoke about those early social events. “My dad wanted to ensure our family was well protected,” she added. After Peggy’s father passed away, one of the first people to help her mother was a Foresters agent. “Just knowing that we had people at Foresters who really cared only locked me more into Foresters.”

Sharing the passion for giving back

After getting married and moving to Eugene, Oregon, Peggy’s husband, Kent, got more involved in their local Branch. After having Tonja, Peggy also started going to meetings of the Branch and, eventually, brought Tonja herself as she got older. The family legacy continued with Tonja’s daughter, Brea, who also joined Foresters as a member. Today, Peggy is the President of her local Branch, Tonja serves on the Regional Council and Brea is a Branch Councillor.

This Foresters family has a history of helping their communities. Each generation has hosted or participated in several volunteer activities to support great causes. “I’ve been going to events since I was born, so it’s always been a part of my life,” said Brea.

Brea’s mother, Tonja, added, “Foresters and the people around us were like a second family. Every month was a different community event with other Foresters families.”

What it means to be a member

To these women, the best part of being a Foresters member is the familial bond that forms between members in their communities. These are people that Peggy, Tonja and Brea have grown alongside over the years and shared unforgettable memories. When speaking about what it meant to be a Foresters member, Tonja put it excellently, “It’s about giving back to not only the community but giving back to the members as well.”

Finally, we asked the three ladies their thoughts on what led Foresters to reach its 150th anniversary. As Peggy put it, “I think it’s the benefits and the sense of family across the membership. I believe in Foresters, and I’m sticking with it.”

Discover more about the last 150 years at Foresters

As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, we want to share our history with our members. You can learn more about the last 150 years here by exploring our Foresters 150 Timeline. We couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve done with our members over the years, and we look forward to the future!

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