Our Journey to 100 Years: Becoming Known Nationwide
To commemorate our milestone 100th anniversary, our series called “Our Journey to 100 Years” continues. In this series, we’re taking you through OHB’s history and highlighting people, events and notable moments that have gotten us to today. The information in this series is gathered from a book that was written by John Carter as a labor of love to chronicle the first 75 years of Omaha Home for Boys.
Today, our journey takes us to 1952 and a change that paved the way for Omaha Home for Boys to become a nationwide household name.
The Home was growing and changing – more boys than ever, two large campuses, a growing 4-H program, many beautiful brick buildings to maintain and plans for more to come. No longer could the help of friends locally, and particularly the Masons with their heartfelt and steadfast support, raise the funds necessary to fulfill our mission. It was time to “nationalize” the Home with an expanded mailing system that was nationwide in scope.
Because funds could not be solicited Masonically across state lines, “Masonic” was dropped from our name. On June 24, 1952, the Masonic Home for Boys became The Omaha Home for Boys. Later that year the vision for a nationwide fundraising campaign was realized when 500,000 Christmas letters were mailed nationwide for the very first time.
As Christmas approached three years later in 1955, Executive Director Harry Bruner announced that the Home would be mailing nearly a million letters, doubling the amount that was mailed previously. The national mailings had been working alright but Mr. Bruner thought that adding something else to the letters would further connect our friends to the Home. That’s when our first Christmas seal was mailed. The cheerful holiday seals were so well received that they soon became a standard part of every major mailing and are still being enjoyed by our friends across the nation today!
With the growth of our nationwide mailing program came many new responsibilities. Each summer boys and staff would insert letters, seals and return envelopes in millions of envelopes. All those envelopes were bagged in post office bags and stored in several locations around campus, awaiting those busy days in November when all were delivered to the post office.
Although the process for stuffing and mailing our letters has changed significantly and become much more efficient thanks to modern machines, the sincerity we put into each and every mailing to all of our friends near and far remains the same as it was 70 years ago when that first letter was signed, sealed and delivered.