Myrtle Pruden

100-year celebration benefits Shriners Hospitals for kids

Daughters of the Nile bring 100-year heritage to special banquet

A woman might be hesitant share her age, but the Daughters of the Nile are boasting about turning 100 this fall and will be celebrating by raising funds for in-need children.

People in the community may not be familiar with the exclusive organization, but Daughters of the Nile supports the work of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and has raised more than $1.7 million internationally for the hospital this year through the Canadian Trust and Daughters of the Nile Foundation.

“Shriners Hospitals do such wonderful work for children,” says Myrtle Pruden, queen of Victoria’s Miriam Temple No. 2. “What’s so special about the hospital is that if people can’t afford a service, it is done for free – and anyone can access that, they don’t need to be related to a shriner.”

While the group is not religious, women can only become members through a previous affiliation with a Shriner, a Master Mason or an associated organization, like the U.S. Rainbow Girls. Still, while there is no other way to join, Pruden encourages all those who think they might have a connection to get in contact with a local lodge to seek out a heritage link. Meanwhile, she emphasizes that everyone is welcome at the fundraising dinner banquet and dance on Sept. 27, which coincides with a visit from Margaret Ann Risk, supreme queen of the Supreme Temple of Daughter of the Nile in Texas.

Right now, the Shriners serve 500 children from B.C., 89 of those from Vancouver Island. While there is a Canadian Shriners Hospital in Montreal, the closest of the 22 international locations are in Spokane, Wash. and Portland, Ore., meaning most Vancouver Island kids head south for treatment. A representative from the Portland hospital will also be attending the dinner on Sept. 27.

The international fraternal organization started in Seattle in 1913, and Victoria’s Miriam Temple was constructed in 1918, making it the second temple (out of 139) created world-wide. In celebrating 100 years as a philanthropic women’s group, Pruden says things have changed, but their mission is the same.

“We basically started as a group for women interested in bettering society,” Pruden says. “It started out for good, pure-minded women who wanted to better their world, and it’s still that way.”

The Victoria group holds meetings for 258 Vancouver Island-based residents, with members ranging in age from 19 to 90. From fundraising luncheons and dinners to social gatherings, fashion shows and entertainment events, the group has a diverse array of offerings. Pruden came to the group 13 years ago, after meeting other members through her husband’s Shriners group.

“I was interested in being a part of the choir, and I was really interested in becoming a bellydancer,” says Pruden with a laugh. “It’s very nice to belong to a group that has such an altruistic objective to it. We just have so many fun events, but it’s just great to know that the work you do can affect a child in such a wonderful way.”

Join the Daughters of the Nile 100-year anniversary banquet Friday, Sept. 27, 5 p.m. at the Comfort Inn & Suites Conference Centre (3020 Blanshard St.). Tickets are $40 and include dinner, entertainment and dancing. Purchase tickets by calling Ardath at 250-479-2132. Learn more about the organization at daughtersofthenile.com.

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